Sunday, October 4, 2009

The infamous Badger LiqourImage by jremsikjr via Flickr
“Drinking is responsible for many social evils. To solve most of our social problems, prohibition should be enforced in the country.” Give arguments For and Against this view.

The Directive Principles of the State Policy provide that the State should strive to take steps to enforce prohibition in the country. But this may be the only Directive Principle which most of the State governments have not implemented. The reason is that a very significant volume of State revenues is made up of State Excise Duty, coming mainly from the sale of liquor. In most of the States, State Excise Duty contributes 20 to 30 per cent of the total State revenues and is the second largest contributor to their revenues. On the other hand, one school of thought believes that it is the increasing consumption of liquor in Indian society that is responsible for many social crimes and evils.

Arguments For the View
(a) The framers of the Constitution were extremely influenced by the Gandhian views about prohibition. The views of the framers of the Constitution must be honoured by enforcing prohibition.

(b) If a State like Gujarat can survive financially despite the loss of State Excise revenue, any other State can do so. It is a matter of political and bureaucratic will and nothing else.

(c) Many social evils like wife beating, eve teasing, rapes and murders prevail in Indian society mainly because of liquor. Most of the road accidents occur because the drivers of the concerned vehicles are under the influence of liquor at the time of accident. Hence, there is an urgent need for prohibition.

(d) Drinking results in reduction in the disposable income of the low-income groups and the sum that could be spent on nutrition and health care of the entire family is spent on drinking by one member of the family. The ill effects of drinking also affect the health of the drinkers later in their lives. Hence, social cost  in terms of deterioration of public health may be much higher than the revenues earned.

Arguments Against the View
(a) The revenue earned from sale of liquor is spent on social sector like education, health, housing, drinking water and sanitation.

(b) The experiment of prohibition in Andhra Pradesh and Haryana  failed miserably and these States had to lift prohibition. When prohibition was unsuccessful in these States it may not succeed in others.

(c) Gujarat has enforced prohibition but it cannot be said that there are no rapes, murders,  road accidents etc. in that State.

(d) By stopping the sale of liquor the government would indirectly be encouraging the availability and sale of illicit liquor. This will result in loss of revenue to the government, on the one hand, without any expected benefits of prohibition, on the other.

(e) Why should a moderate and sensible drinker be deprived of his drinks just because of some excessive drinkers in the society?


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