In 1998, the price of onions — Rs 60 a kg — was instrumental in bringing down the BJP government in Delhi. Beer doesn’t quite compete with onions in the consumption menu, but the price of the happy hour drink has gone up in leaps and froth. Could this rise signal a mutiny among the citizens of the nation’s capital? In April, we started paying Rs 5-10 more per bottle across brands. That hurt, but a few litres down, we forgot about this specific inflation. Since this week, lager prices have been upped a further Rs 5-15. Where will the regular guy whose access to Scotch and other higher-end beneficiary go to now? Certainly not to teetotalling. It could be, god forbid, to harder, cheaper stuff.
It’s not the fact of a Rs 40 bottle of beer costing Rs 60 that will hurt us. What will is that for Rs 120 we used to get three bottles of lager in March 2010; now we’ll get two. Economists be damned, beer drinkers know an unhappy hour rate when they see one.
Earlier this month, the Delhi government levied a ‘vend fee’. It apparently plans to increase excise and other taxes. In a city where drinking out can be prohibitively expensive — unless you’re willing to go to one of those
dives that double as dens — the future doesn’t look happy
for hops. Why pain the drinking citizenry? Because Delhi wants to earn an additional Rs 100 crore this year — perhaps to make up for what looks increasingly like a loss-making international sporting event not too many people are interested in pouring their money into.