People fighting against the poisonous effects of alcohol.

Artwork by Sankalpa Raychaudhary

People fighting against the poisonous effects of alcohol.

Prohibition in India: Banning Alcohol, Its Pros, and Cons

Medically reviewed by

Written by Bharat Hegde

Alcohol is one of the great conundrums of human existence. It makes you feel so good, while progressively destroying your physical, mental and social well-being. It’s addictive and destructive to your health. While it is possible to drink responsibly, the substance still has a significant impact on you and can lead to alcohol abuse. And the clutch? Alcohol is highly addictive and alcohol problems cause significant distress to the person and their families. Over 107 million people across the world are affected by alcohol addiction. 

At Cadabams, we have been treating alcohol addiction and the causes of alcohol addiction for over 3 decades. In fact, we were the first in India, to have dedicated infrastructure for de-addiction. We have pondered over the years the implications of a complete ban on alcohol. We believe, through our extensive experience, that there are pros and cons to this move. Let’s dive a little deeper into this issue and understand the facts about alcohol abuse, and understand the implications of an alcohol ban. So, should alcohol be banned: Pros and Cons are here:

Should Alcohol be Banned? : Arguments For It

Health Benefits of Banning Alcohol

A complete Alcohol Ban in India has been discussed in many circles. The arguments for this revolve around the cons of alcohol consumption and its debilitating effects on the human body. A prohibition on alcohol will lead to an improvement in the general health of the population. Over a while, the general population will slowly wean off alcohol consumption. This will coincide with a decrease in issues like liver damage, cardiac issues, and so many more problems. 

The outcome of this would lower spending on healthcare, rehabilitation, and more. It would also improve the mental health of individuals. Alcohol Consumption and dependence are associated with multiple mental health disorders like anxiety disorders, panic attacks, depression, and in some cases Alcohol-Induced Dementia. A ban on the consumption and sale of alcohol will eventually lead to a reduction in multiple physical and mental health disorders. 

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Societal Benefits of Prohibiting Alcohol

Liquor Ban in India is not a new topic. Just type out “The Alcohol Banned States in India” and you will find a list of states that have already prohibited alcohol. The first and most famous amongst them is Gujarat. Multiple other states like Bihar, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur have followed suit to prohibit the sale of alcohol. Almost all other states and union territories allow the sale and consumption of alcohol.

Prohibition of Drinking Alcohol will have a significant positive impact on the overall society of a country. Consumption and dependence on alcohol are associated with some of the foremost evils in our society.

Alcohol lowers a person’s inhibitions and removes their sense of restraint making a person more prone to violence. The WHO estimates that almost 55% of cases related to domestic violence are influenced by alcohol consumption. Further, women who face domestic abuse are also far more likely to seek refuge in alcohol. This is a vicious cycle that can only be alleviated with a prohibition. For example, the Indian state of Bihar witnessed a 35% decrease in cases of domestic violence once the sale of liquor was banned in the state. 

The APA estimates that children who grow up in households afflicted with alcohol abuse are far more likely to face physical and sexual abuse at the hands of family members. Viewing these factors and multiple others, it is evident that a ban on alcohol sales in India would have significant benefits on society. 

However, this is one side of the argument ( albeit a very strong side). There are arguments that are against the ban on alcohol as well. What are these?

The Arguments against the Ban

The Legal Angle

Alcohol is addictive, very addictive. Statistics show that over 57 million people in India are addicted to alcohol. India further faces a shortage of mental health professionals. One of the causes of alcohol abuse is that alcohol intake creates dependence and addiction as well. Individuals who are dependent on alcohol and are into heavy drinking are usually ready to go to significant lengths to acquire and consume alcohol. A complete and sudden ban on alcohol would significantly impact this. 

A rise in crime due to withdrawal symptoms and an inability to find and consume alcohol would be a major problem. Even during the prohibition era in America, syndicated crime, homicides, and burglaries grew significantly, and law enforcement found it quite difficult to keep up with the rise in crime. 

Further, banning any item in many cases results in the formation of a lucrative black market for the substance. Law enforcement also has a tough time coping with this black market. Gujarat, a state which has had prohibition since 1960 as a tribute to Gandhi, has a highly active black market for alcohol. A city in Gujarat, Surat consumes approximately 50,000 liters of alcohol in a day. Further, almost 70% of the state’s rural population consumes or brews their own liquor. 

The Economic Angle

A large part of any country is economics. Jobs, salaries, careers, and more help sustain a population, improve the quality of life, and allow the government to collect taxes to invest in the development of the country. Alcohol is one of the largest generators of revenue for both state governments and the central government in India. 

To put into context, State governments in India earned over Rs. 1.75 Trillion through the sale of alcohol. This was their third-largest source of revenue after GST and Value Added Tax. States like UP and Karnataka earn almost 20% of their revenue solely from the excise duty on alcohol. 

The amount collected as excise duty on alcohol is redirected to fund multiple developmental projects. However, are the economic benefits of alcohol sales worth the health and societal impact that it has? This is a question we must answer on both a societal and governmental level. 

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Q. Should alcohol be banned or not?

Complete Prohibition of any substance immediately or over time brings with it its pros and cons. Alcohol Ban in India, Pros, and Cons are many and varied in nature. The pros are that it improves the mental and social health of society and will lead to a healthier population in the future. However, the disadvantages of the alcohol ban are a rise in crime, an impact on the economy, and much more. Banning alcohol completely does not seem realistic as of now, however, we must exercise complete caution with regard to its consumption and abstain wherever possible. 

Q. Why is alcohol banning bad?

Banning alcohol is easier said than done. The disadvantages of banning alcohol include a rise in non-violent and violent crime. This is because there will always be consumers for the substance, and they will have to utilize illegal means to obtain it, leading to the rise in crime. Further, the taxes and duties on alcohol present a major revenue source for the government which will be severely dented if alcohol is completely banned. 

Q. What are the pros of alcohol prohibition in india?

Alcohol is a highly addictive substance and despite trying to balance Banning Alcohol, Pros, and Cons, it is imperative we try to find a solution. One of the main benefits of prohibition would be the betterment of mental and social health around us. It would also lead to fewer health problems associated with substance abuse leading to a healthier population. This is one of the reasons why alcohol should be banned.

Q. What was one disadvantage of prohibition?

The disadvantages of banning alcohol are many. However, one of the major ones is the fear that it could lead to a rise in violent crime. This is indicative because if someone wants to consume alcohol under prohibition, then they will have to employ illegal methods. This is the fear that is there behind prohibiting alcohol.

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