In India, the introduction of prohibition is being met with increasing opposition. The government of?
In India, the introduction of prohibition is being met with increasing opposition. The government of prime Minister Morarji Desai brought in the ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol on the 1st of April. The measure is to be gradually extended over the next four years until every state in India is dry. The effects of the initial purge on bars, clubs and wine shops differs throughout the country, but in the capital, Delhi, the prohibition campaign has resulted in a boom in the sale of illegal liquor, widespread boot-legging and unemployment for those once working as barmen and licensed retailers.
SYNOPSIS: Delhi is not completely dry yet. It is illegal for any Indian to drink alcohol in public, so many people ignore the notices outside the few liquor shops left open, and stock up with bottles that can be drunk at home. The increase in the sale of alcoholic drinks is paralleled by a massive rise in the consumption of the notorious illegal brew known as "Country Liquor". Made in villages throughout India, it is distilled from a variety of roots and vegetables, and the after effect of drinking it is often more than just heady. It frequently kills.
Some of Mr Desai's Janata Party supporters have joined the growing opposition to the ban. Mr Desai is a fervent prohibitionist and has said he would prefer his government to fall than withdraw the legislation. Many politicians, including the former Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, have publically said they favour prohibition by persuasion only and not by compulsion. Prohibition was not part of the Janata General Election manifesto, but Mr Desai has said he is entitled to introduce it since it was included in the first Indian constitution after independence.
The Press Club in Delhi is one of the 14 bars closed down in the city. Foreigners are excluded from the ban on drinking, but even the restaurants and hotels still selling alcohol are shut two days a week. The Press Club has taken court action to challenge the ban, claiming it is unconstitutional to limit the rights of individuals to eat and drink what they like.
Since some Indian states have whole-heartedly endorsed the prohibition laws and others have not, many people have begun commuting to bars over state boundaries.
Prices is non-prohibition areas are rocketing and retailers are making vast profits. This not only upsets those shop-keepers no longer able to sell drink, it has resulted in an increase in drunken driving and accidents as people return home after a drinking spree. Despite the immediate effects of the ban, Mr Desai has insisted that prohibition is essential if poverty is to be eradicated in India.