Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Is banning liquor the cure to Kerala's massive hangover?

If somebody needs to learn from history, it is the Kerala govt. The recent move to ban alcohol is all but familiar, and takes us back over a 100 years to America during its notorious 'Probition times' when they banned alcohol branding it the root cause of all evil.

People who know history knows what happened next. Not only didn't it work, it made matters worse. With smuggled (bootlegged) liquor rampant, drinking habits rose to all time high. The mob and mafia made money by smuggling and dealing booze. The organized crime hit record levels. Bad cops and politicians were the ones who profited by corruption like never seen before.

Already there are several corruption and bribery allegations against seasoned politicians like KM Mani who is the current Minister of Finance, Law and Housing of the state of Kerala. He is said to have collected tens of millions of rupees in bribes from bar owners in the state to allow them to keep their businesses open.

Of course the people have a drinking problem, but the solution is not to ban alcohol. It is only through awareness & self realization that one could control this problem. Its not worth loosing the backbone of Kerala economy, tourism. Its not worth the lives of hundreds of poor working class people falling victim to another mass liquor poisoning. Its not worth loosing 80% of the deprived state's only means of income.

I believe we could try some ideas below:-
1) Raise Awareness and educate from a young age.. Create Alcoholics Anonymous groups, rehab centers subsidized by the govt.

2) Raise the legal drinking age to 25

3) Harsher Punishments and fines for irresponsible drinking and alcohol related crimes and public nuisance

4) Revoke driving license of people who drink and drive

5) License to drink: Enforce a weekly maximum alcohol quota per person by law, meaning the same person can't come back to the liquor store twice in a week

6) Promote local coconut and palm toddy as healthier option, helping coconut farmers and self help groups.

7) Prepare and scientifically bottle, export quality specialty drinks from coconut and palm trees (like Japan's Sake which is a rice wine).

8) Tourists get Liquor passes, so this whole ban situation doesnt ruin the tourism industry.

9) Grade beverages based on alcohol content

10) Promote lower alcohol content beverages such as beer, wine and toddy

11) Raise taxes for foreign liquor

12) Have an open mind

This blog post is not intended to be an open letter of support for all the drunkards in our state. Banning or controlling any substance, especially something evidently so popular among people, will only lead people to rebel and fight the law. They will find ways to drink just for the thrill of breaking the law. This is human psychology. This will only put added strain on the law and policing systems, and distract them from more important violent and other criminal activity.

As soon as the society accept its drinking problem, laugh about it and sees it as not a big deal, I believe a large chunk of the populous will automatically loose interest in this activity. Hence bringing down the drinking levels and adjacent crimes.This is why an open mind is key to this issue.