[Answered] The latest hooch tragedy in Bihar is just another consequence of banning liquor. Evaluate the statement.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.

Body: Write some consequences of banning liquor. Also write its positive impacts.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Recently over 30 people have died in a hooch (poor quality alcohol) tragedy in Bihar, where alcohol is prohibited. Bihar’s prohibition, imposed in 2016 initially appeared to succeed and yield certain social gains. However, following several deaths from consuming illicit liquor, the policy is increasingly coming under attack.

Consequences of banning liquor:

  • The fact is that from 2016 to 2021, there have been over 200 hooch-related deaths in the state.
  • It pushes consumption underground, places an undue burden on the law and order machinery, and increases criminalisation.
  • The ban in Bihar has caused reported losses of up to Rs 5,000 crore to the government, while treating citizens as incapable of making responsible choices.
  • The banned substance may see a greater variability in potency, may be adulterated with unknown or dangerous substances, and may not be produced and consumed under normal market constraint.
  • Illicit distillation and bootlegging, which also resulted in many deaths. Similar experiences were seen in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Manipur.
  • The state’s judicial administration has also been burdened– about 2,55,000 people have been booked under the legal provisions governing prohibition and nearly 40,000 bail applications are pending before the Patna High Court.

Benefits of banning liquor:

  • Health Benefits: According to the WHO, the harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions and globally 3 million deaths occur every year due to harmful use of alcohol (5.3% of all deaths).
  • Constitutional ObligationArticle 47 directs that the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.
  • Curb Gender Violence: A study conducted in Bihar has supported the argument e.g., there has been 28.9% reduction in crimes against women in Bihar between 2016-2019.
  • Reduction in Crime: as intoxication impairs an individual’s ability to distinguish between right or wrong.
  • Economic Stress:  especially for poor families as the male members tend to spend more on alcohol due to their excessive addiction. This in turn reduces the budget for spending on essential items and pushes the family into borrowings.

The goal of an effective and sustainable alcohol policy can only be achieved through coordinated action between multiple stakeholders, such as women’s groups and vendors.

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