Gujarat policy of allowing only tourists to buy liquor from outlets discriminatory | editorials | Hindustan Times
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Gujarat policy of allowing only tourists to buy liquor from outlets discriminatory

While in Gujarat it is more of the Gandhi link that is used for continuing the prohibition, other states have used gender violence as cause for banning liquor. But a first-of-its-kind analytical study of alcohol and violence against women done by the International Center for Research on Women, concluded that though not all types of alcohol consumption are linked to violence against women, heavy and frequent alcohol consumption is and must be made part of policy frameworks that look at alcohol treatment, de-addiction and prevention

editorials Updated: Dec 18, 2016 23:47 IST
Prohibition
A dry state for almost six decades, Gujarat has now made its prohibition law even more stringent for locals but relaxed it for tourists. (HT File Photo)

Talk about double standards. A dry state for almost six decades, Gujarat has now made its prohibition law even more stringent for locals but relaxed it for tourists. According to the new directive, locals could now end up in jail for three years and pay a Rs 5 lakh fine if caught with a liquor bottle but visitors and tourists can walk into a liquor shop and buy a bottle after furnishing certain documents. There is more cheer in store for tourists: They can get an online permit for consuming liquor in the state. The prohibition policy in the state started becoming tourist-friendly during the last few years of Narendra Modi’s tenure as chief minister and remained so under Anandiben Patel, with more and more hotels getting licences to run liquor shops. Besides, the process for on-arrival permits at airports and hotels and even e-permits had been eased. Apparently, the present Vijay Rupani government, which faces the crucial assembly elections next year, seems to have succumbed to the demands of two electorally important communities -- OBCs and Patidars -- to make the law tougher for locals.

Read: Gujarat’s prohibition law friendly to tourists but sends residents to jail

In India, political parties tend to use prohibition as a card to entice voters but don’t reveal other effects of such a policy decision. In the past, bans have led to black marketing in alcohol, as in Ahmedabad and Kohima. Loss of livelihood is also an issue. And, sometimes, one state’s loss turns out to be another’s good fortune: On weekends, Mount Abu and Daman and Diu are the key destinations for many people from Gujarat. After Bihar’s prohibition decision, towns located outside the state, such as Dalkhola in the North Dinajpur district of West Bengal, are reaping the benefits of the ban.

Read: Bihar prohibition helping UP’s excise department make windfall gains

While in Gujarat it is more of the Gandhi link that is used for continuing the prohibition, other states have used gender violence as cause for banning liquor. But a first-of-its-kind analytical study of alcohol and violence against women done by the International Center for Research on Women, a global research institute, and commissioned by IPE Global, an international development consulting firm, concluded that though not all types of alcohol consumption are linked to violence against women, heavy and frequent alcohol consumption is and must be made part of policy frameworks that look at alcohol treatment, de-addiction and prevention. A review also showed that structural policy-level changes regarding alcohol have a better impact on decreasing alcohol consumption and reducing violence. But in India, where knee-jerk and populist reactions have become the normal political response to any problem, not many governments are interested in addressing the issue holistically. They are happy to allow a parallel black market than tackle the issue head-on and holistically. It seems all’s well as long as it is behind the scenes.