- India is the only country in the world where age bar for alcohol consumption is 25 years.
- It is illegal to directly or indirectly advertise alcoholic beverages in India.
- Hinduism declares alcohol consumption as one of the five heinous crimes and is comparable to murder and adultery. A drunkard is a dead body, say the scriptures.
- Broadcasting Bill of the country prohibits screening of smoking and drinking scenes and are categorized as adult.
- A prerequisite to become a congressman is to abstain from alcohol.
Mahatma Gandhi had canvassed total prohibition, and the Constitution of India endorsed, adopted, and imposed total prohibition in 1977. It lasted only two years leaving behind a few dry states like Mizoram, Manipur and Gujarat, and a couple of ‘dry’ holidays like Gandhi Jayanti and Independence day.
Yet Gujarat is one of the highest alcohol consuming states, and also the land where Malt Marches have been held to free the state of the prohibition. According to senior police officials in the state and the prohibition department, liquor smuggling business is worth more than Rs 200 crore in Gujarat and there are at least 1500 habitual offenders (in prohibition) in Ahmedabad city alone.
All Indians may not be able to afford imported wine or whiskey but they are offered a range of domestic beer like tharra, toddy, or India Pale Ale. It is not surprising to hear about drunk monkeys, elephants or even drunk rodents in India. Alcohol consumption tends to begin at age 16-18 in India and peak at 30-35. India’s 18-35 year age group is currently 247 million strong and growing at 3.4% per annum. With a net addition of another 40 million to this segment over the next five years, alcohol demand will aggregate 40 million cases over FY05-10, it added.
Alcohol consumption in India has increased by 106% in past two decades.The World Health Organisation has been constantly warning India against its ills and wants the ministry to bring consumption of alcohol under control in India. Currently, India – the world’s largest whisky market – buys 1% of the spirits and 15% of the wine it consumes from foreign suppliers; rest are domestic suppliers. India, with a wine market growing by 30% annually, represents a huge – and still largely unexplored – business potential in years to come. India’s wine market at 5 million euros, makes up less than 1 % of India’s 1.3 billion euros alcobev market.
“The entire country is drunk during New Year and Christmas. This is definitely not our culture. We are trying to ape the West and it’s ruining our health. Once awareness campaigns against alcohol are launched and I&B bans surrogate ads, consumption is bound to fall,” says Union health minister A Ramadoss.
With the alcbev industry being one of the largest tax contributors to any state government’s coffers, there might be even bigger difficulties in curbing the alcohol industry that has seen steady growth in the country.
The wine consumption in India is set to treble by 2011 to touch 17 million litres per annum. This is according to a study conducted by UK-based International Wines and Spirits Records (IWSR).