Saturday, July 31, 2021
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Alcohol: Both sides of the coin

As the state economy sucked due to lockdown, state decided to reopen liquor shops without any planning of managing crowd. All of sudden by breaking all the rules of lockdown people bee lined to purchase alcohol in which ever amount and price it was available. Due to this relaxation, there have been huge crowds gathering near these shops and there it has been impossible to maintain social distancing. There were few instances of law and order situation arising out of such crowds gathering. Most people were without any safety measures of masks or required distancing discipline. After demonetization, this was second time people spent their maximum time in queue, so be it for buying essential commodities, be it health certificate, be it for travel desk, hospital checkups or now liquor. Standing in line for hours has become life style of people. Finally, after all the mess Mumbai Municipal Corporation has decided to let only essential services function in the city and liquor shops will remain closed. On one hand state government extended the lock down period and on the other hand they are inviting crowds to the shops by relaxing lockdown norms bringing forward a contradicting stand. Mumbai has seen a number of positive cases and the down ward trend is yet to set in. Gathering of crowds in large numbers without following social distancing will be detrimental to the control of spread of the virus and the gains of the lockdown instantly lost to people gathering in large numbers. We don’t know what was the medical history of the people standing long hours in queue, we don’t know who can be the carrier among those on the streets, here BMC is asking cooperative societies to close the gates for guests and unknown people and there you are allowing people to stand without any precaution on open roads to buy liquor?? The big question is about the government’s double standards.

This forced de-addiction and imposed rehabilitation, by banning liquor to people who have habit of consuming it on daily basis brought misery to their lives. In addition to being the “perfect adjunct” for many occasions, alcohol carries with it some specific attributes that serve other purposes at parties. Alcohol helps those people forget about their usual reserves and concerns, and there are many who have habit of healthy consumption. People who have underlying depression issues or social phobias may need alcohol as a result of their attempt to self-medicate their undesirable conditions. Government needs to understand, more than boosting the state economy, liquor boosts the moral and conduct of person who has need for it.

Idealism promotes alcohol to be a bad thing and its consumption is rated on the lower rungs of moral radar. Alcohol is need for people and for some, it’s like any daily requirement and can be labelled as addiction. But one must also realize, so is tea and coffee. Millions consider it as their basic morning and evening drink, they mentally and physically crave for it and cannot do without it. Deprive them of this and see how much physical and mental discomfort those people will experience. Certain facts of how addictive our lifestyle has become are undeniable. In the lineup of various options like teas, coffees, alcohol, drugs; all that varies is the addiction intensity and health impact they have on body and mind. So, let it be the so-called minor tea and coffees versus major alcohol and drugs, the medical impact of that intake cannot be denied. It’s perhaps less painful when one is deprived of tea and coffees, but if an addict wants to give up alcohol or drugs, he needs to participate in a month-long rehabilitation program and get enrolled at a de-addiction centre. Training your body to ween off alcohol or drugs is a gradual process done with the help of professionals monitoring one’s health and medical supervision. Sudden deprivation can only cause extreme craving plus mental and physical reactions in a person. The response can be controlled by some, but not necessarily by all. The extent of their imbalance is determined on their alcohol dependency.

These long queues are proof of how much alcohol is needed by people and perhaps some can manage with less food, but now alcohol is an equally important need and an inevitable part of their lifestyle. As this need definitely influences their personal and social life, its no surprise that there is rise in domestic violence cases during this lockdown. Government must understand how to balance social welfare and address matters carefully on all fronts. Idealism without reality check can only cause damage. Most adult parties offer some alcoholic beverage options. Wedding receptions typically involve raising a glass of champagne to toast to the new couple’s future. Many people ring in the new year with alcohol. Even dinner parties and dining out oftentimes involve a glass or two, if not a bottle.

Forget about people’s life style, but look at greater perspective, the ban on alcohol has generated the problem of unemployment among the local people. Apart from alcohol shops, if the door supply like other commodities get started, that can employ the local people, just like Swiggy and Zomato delivery boys. Online ordering options can be created. Most of the people in the states broke the liquor ban law, the black markets were open and liquor was sold randomly it has caused a huge loss to government. The sale of alcohol contributes to the economy of the state through the tax directly and indirectly. The State Excise in India is mainly imposed on the sale of liquor, which is commonly known as Liquor tax. The states like Maharashtra earn a large portion of their revenue from the State Excise. Maharashtra’s liquor business is in private hands and so the revenue is assured. Only liquor itself provides 20 percent of the share of the government’s own revenue in most States. India is the largest whisky market in the world and there is an ever-increasing demand for imported whisky and wines. Economic affluence, urbanization, changing lifestyles and social mores are all persuading young people to take up drinking. For State governments, the fast-growing liquor market means an increase in the inflow of funds.

State government really lost on many fronts, forget and keep the state economy aside, but think of people’s mental health associated to it. Human requirements are many and due to the abrupt lockdown, in spite of imposed silence on the surface, somewhere a very important need has been simmering in the lower layers which today is visibly exploding in the form of long lines and crazy crowds rushing at wine shops. Hasty pronouncements by Government have thrown people’s life and livelihood and very existence into mayhem. From demonetization to COVID-19, people are compelled to stand in long queues. The struggle is never ending.


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