TODAY -

Dry Manipur among top five liquor consuming states!
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: May 19, 2022 -



MANIPUR ranked fifth in the list of top alcohol consuming states as per the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5), 2019-21, wouldn't go down well with non-governmental organisations which have been at the forefront of campaigns to prevent further degeneration of the society from substance abuse.

While the said finding might embolden the government authorities to assert that its proposal to permit liquor production in the state has been validated, civil bodies which have been carrying out anti-drug and alcohol abuse drives are certain to feel highly demoralised that their initiative hasn't been productive.

From the national perspective, the survey report mentions that alcohol consumption among both men and women is higher in rural India than in the urban areas.

But in Manipur's context, usage of liquor among the women in both rural and urban is still not as widespread as the men even though there is strong indication of increase in the number of younger urban girls and womenfolk consuming liquor, if posts on the social media platforms are taken into account.

Among the men, there is hardly any difference between urban and rural as could be comprehended from both surreptitious and open drinking joints operating in the localities as well as in market places, especially in the valley districts.

However, the near total absence of drinking joints in the hill districts doesn't mean that all the hill dwellers are teetotallers for many of them usually don't let off the opportunity to down a few pegs whenever the hill folks visit the plains.

Another finding of the survey report which seems to be generalisation and can't be ascribed to Manipur is that alcohol consumption is more common among those from the Scheduled Tribes than from any other caste/ tribe groups for majority of the ST population lives in the hill areas where sale and consumption of liquor is fraught with risk.

There is nothing to be delighted about with the NFHS-5 if one takes into account that serving and consuming liquor is quite common during festive and religious events.

Widespread availability and use of liquor, coupled with limited sources of revenue generation, is one of the reasons for successive governments to mull legalisation of production of the local brews, only to leave the plan in the cold storage as such a move evokes outright condemnations from different sections of the society.

Successive governments had been toying with the idea of officially revoking the dry state status, but desisted from implementing the same due to fierce objection from civil society organisations.

Desperation of the government to generate revenue from liquor production or sale could be comprehended from the then finance minister Y Joykumar explaining in one of the assembly sessions that proceeds from liquor sale would enable the government to implement recommendation of the Seventh Pay Commission to increase salary of the government employees.

Though the government would be hoping that the public acknowledge the NFHS-5 report and allow liquor production, the same survey might be interpreted by the CSOs as authentication of government's failure to strictly enforce the ban on sale and consumption of liquor, imported as well as locally brewed, after over two decades since the prohibition law was enacted.

Moreover, the survey showcases that the government of Manipur, along with focus on tackling the menace of drug abuse and poppy plantation, should also introspect why and how a state officially declared dry has 30-40 per cent of its adult population found to be habitual or moderate liquor consumers.



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