Nitish Kumar, CM Bihar, has finally adopted the Gujarat Model, although this model of Gujarat has nothing to do with growth or development but prohibition. The chief minister is ready to lose 4000 cr of revenues to do away with the social evils associated with boozing. It is entirely a different thing that during the elections, EC had seized more than 1 lakh liter of alcohol and perhaps alcohol played a great role in the state election.
Now the question remains if the state’s women population will have Ache Din (it is they who had complained to the CM and asked for prohibition) and their male counterparts stop boozing. This leads to the question does prohibition work. Well, I have seen Haryana in prohibition but liquor was found everywhere, people would smuggle in liquor from Delhi and/or locally make desi versions. The women did not have Ache Din, but the government definitely had Bure Din (in terms of revenue).
In the 1920s even United States had prohibition for 13 long years and we had the “bathtub gins” and “moonshine gin” doing the rounds and the drinkers who needed to drink, drank at any cost.
In Gujrat, one can order liquors on the phone and get free home delivery of the choicest brands albeit at a much higher price than rest of India.
The major prohibition side effect in India is mushrooming of illicit liquor vends, which often turns to poison resulting in large scale deaths. Consumption of cough syrups, which have high alcohol percentage, (Phensedyl and the like) as an alternative rises when alcohol is in short supply and have the potential to doom much more lives than liquor itself.
The ones who want to drink will always find a way to drink whatever might be the cost. The greatest loser will be the state, not just in terms of the revenue lost from the taxes but also the increased cost in implementation of prohibition. Another loser will be the restaurants and the travel industry (although Bihar is not a major tourist destination in any case).
The Ache Din finally will be coming for the illicit alcohol manufacturer; the state police, the corrupt ones, who will be more interested in catching liquor bottles and getting their palm’s oiled rather than look after law and order problems and the pharmaceutical companies who might see a spurt in demand for cough syrups, nitrogen pills, tranquilizers.
Finally over the last few months we had raging controversies with politicians asking us what to eat, what to read or what to watch. While those bans grabbed the headlines and the “experts” debated for hours in the TV how unjust bans were and govt should not interfere with people’s personal choices, I guess the same “experts” will have no objection to this move when the same politicians are defining what we should drink (legal or illegal hooch).