[Answered] Critically examine the effectiveness of prohibition of Alcohol in India and suggest some alternative policy measures.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some benefits of prohibition of alcohol and some issues with it.  Also, suggest some alternative policy measures.Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Entry 51 in the State List makes ‘Alcohol for human consumption’ a subject matter of States. This provides States the power to make laws and charge duties on alcoholic liquors for human consumption. At present, ban exists in the States of Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland and Mizoram. Some States like Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala had tried to implement prohibition of liquor but abolished it due to ineffectiveness.

Benefits of prohibition of Alcohol:

  • Health Benefits: According to the WHO, globally 3 million deaths occur every year due to harmful use of alcohol.
  • Constitutional provisionArticle 47 directs the State to bring about prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.
  • Reduce Gender Violence: There is direct correlation between consumption of alcohol and gender violence. e.g., 28.9% reduction in crimes against women in Bihar between 2016-2019 (after prohibition).
  • Economic Stress: Addiction to alcohol reduces the budget for spending on essential items and in many cases pushes the family into borrowings.


  • Economic Loss: The liquors industry provides direct and indirect employment to lakhs of workers. It also supports hundreds of ancillary industries in glass, tin, plastic and paper.
  • Bootlegging: Failure of effective implementation gives rise to bootlegging (the illegal production, transport and sale of liquor). This gives rise to organized crime as well.
  • Prevalence of Corruption: Generally, the local officials form a nexus with the liquor mafia and overlook the underground activities. By driving sales and production underground, the State loses tax revenues while consumers are exposed to huge health risks.
  • Judicial Burden: It creates tremendous burden on the courts and enhances the pendency of cases e.g., till February 2020, around 2.14 lakh cases were registered under Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016.
  • Moreover complete prohibition has a negative impact on tourism and hospitality sectors.

Alternative policy measures:

  • Policy makers should focus on framing laws which encourage responsible behaviour and compliance. 
  • Drinking age should be made uniform across the country and the rules should be strictly implemented.
  • Strict laws should be made and implemented against drunken behaviour in public, domestic violence under alcohol influence, and drinking and driving.
  • Governments should set aside part of revenue earned from alcohol for social education and de-addiction. Community based approach should be adopted to tackle the problem of alcoholism.
  • Civil society should demand from its political parties a comprehensive policy that addresses all the related issues.

To reduce alcoholism, prohibition should be brought in by phases. The policies should be comprehensive and should have involvement of different stakeholders.

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