“Drinking is a disease in Kerala“, we all know it! One loses one’s kin, respect and money chasing alcohol. Everyone and everything encourages one to have a drink – including friends and even the Government!
With the latest tragic deaths of 25 people in Kerala’s Malappuram district, after consuming poisonous toddy, the state has marked it’s presence in the global level for drinking deaths. (Toddy is a traditional liquor made from either coconut or palm flowers) The reason for the liquor tragedy is said to have happened because it was mixed with chemicals and herbs to give an “extra” kick.
- Kerala in India has the highest number of drinkers and has the highest per capita consumption of over eight litres (1.76 gallons) per person a year.
- These figures overtake traditionally hard-drinking states like Punjab and Haryana.
- Also, in a strange twist of taste, rum and brandy are the preferred drink in Kerala in a country where whisky outsells every other liquor.
Despite all the liquor tragedies happening in Kerala, the people as well as the Government never learn. If one becomes an alocoholic, it is very difficult to lead a normal life. However, Kerala Government is also not ready to stop selling liquor in the state, because the State makes high revenue from this business.
- Shockingly, more than 40% of revenue for its annual budget comes from booze.
- The state-run monopoly, named Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) runs 337 liquor shops, open seven days a week.
- Each shop caters on average to an astonishing 80,000 clients.
- Similarly, there are over 5,000 toddy shops in the state.
The latest death incidents after consuming the natural wine made from coconut palms is contaminated adding chemicals like Methyl Alcohol and other herbs to give the toddy drinker an extra kick. It is usually the poor section of the state’s population fall prey to such tragic incidents.
- The main reason is that toddy is available at a lesser price compared to beer and other costly drinks, which is otherwise is not affordable to a daily-wage earner.
Alcohol consumption causes numerous social evil in Kerala.
- It kills lots of people exacting a heavy social cost.
- Rising numbers of divorces in Kerala are linked to alcohol abuse.
- The majority of road deaths are due to drink driving.
- Hospitals and rehab centres are packed with patients suffering from alcohol-related diseases.
The thriving black market in liquor trade sometimes transforms into liquor tragedies like this recent one.
A few solutions:
- Prohibition is not the answer but closing the various ways of bringing in illicit liquor into the state could actually work.
- The Government should make sure that the alcohol is distributed reducing high alcoholic contents to lighten the effect.
- Also laws should be made to restrict the amount one can consume a day.
It is high time we Malayalees do some serious re-thinking on our drinking habits. Not only for our own sakes, but also for the sake of our children!