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  • Kerala: The State in High ‘Spirits’

    Published on November 25, 2010

    By Suresh Unnithan


    Kerala, the cute coastal queen of India is much admired for its unique achievement in the field of education, child health, and infant mortality and general hygiene.  But, it is exceedingly unfortunate these glorious achievements lose its luster just for one reason, alcoholism. The state has the highest rate of per capita consumption of liquor, about 8.5 litres per person.

    It is alarming; the sale of liquor in the state is growing by leaps and bounds.  According to the industry sources, alcohol sales in the state are worth Rs 20,000 crore.

    It is no exaggeration. For the state owned Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) has recorded annual sales of about Rs 5538.9 crore from its 330 out lets.  Add with this the sales from about 57 outlets of the co-operative Consumerfed, 560 licensed liquor bars across the state and 5000 plus toddy shops.  If we count on the illicit liquor and spirit flowing in from the neighboring states the figure will be mindboggling.

    According A.P. Udayabhanu Commission which probed the state’s alcohol consumption trends the a third of the population in Kerala consumes alcohol, while the national average is just half of this, below 17 percent.   Interestingly, the average age of starting consumption of liquor that was 19 years in 1986 has dropped to 13 in 2001. And the most disturbing news is, 70 to 73 per cent of the male population in Kerala along with almost 30 percent females consumes alcohol more than once a week.

    If we exclude the non drinkers and calculate the per person consumption of liquor in the state will be about 22 litres, which is even more than that of Luxembourg (15.5 litres) which tops the world in consumption of alcohol.

    As per a WHO study the average alcohol consumption in India is less than two litres per person and we are as low as 150th in the world in liquor consumption. The world average is five litres.

    It is not surprising; thanks to the ever increasing consumption of liquor the state exchequer is becoming richer every year.  The KSBC which contributed just Rs 25.63 crore in the year 1984-85 has the previous year added Rs. 4259.80 crore.  Almost 200 fold growth in just 25 years.

    This year the state expects to earn revenue of Rs 6500 crores by the way of liquor taxes.

    As per computation for each purchase of liquor worth Rs 100 from a beverages outlet government gets Rs 80. Rs 18 will go to the liquor manufacturer and Rs 2 to the beverages corporation.

    Many accuse that the state government is encouraging the liquor industry for it’s is the largest source of revenue for the coffers.  “The rulers are just concerned of the revenue and not the society. The increasing alcoholism is ruining the state and it is no more the God’s Own Country. It is becoming a Devil’s Own Country,” laments Geetha, a house wife from Palakkad.

    There is a strong perception; drunken driving is one of the prime reasons for frequent road accidents. More than 4,200 people die every year in road accidents in Kerala.  Social issues like suicides, divorces and domestic violence are also on the rise, thanks to alcohol. The state has the country’s highest suicide rate at 29 per lakh population as against the national average of 11.1, highest incidence of mental illnesses at 282 per lakh population as against the national average of 107, highest incidence of domestic violence and divorce rates.

    In fact, if taken in proper limited quantity liquor acts as a stimulant. It will enhance brain activity and reduce inhibitions. But when consumed in excess, it turns into a depressant, retards the brain’s functions and may also affect the central nervous system.  . The recommended safe limit for any healthy adult per day 3 units for men and 2 units for women (1 unit is 10ml or 8grms).

    It has been proved beyond doubt that over consumption of alcohol could damage vital organs like liver.This is one of the reasons why help for alcoholics  is so important. Once alcohol reaches stomach it gets absorbed into the bloodstream via the stomach’s wall and reaches the brain in less than five minutes.  Alcohol gets absorbed even faster in an empty stomach.

    After the initial feel of relaxation, the alcohol causes disorientation senses and body movements. Normalcy will return, only after the alcohol gets processed and eliminated.

    The liver is the only organ which handles both these activities. If the liver is not healthy, the process will take even longer and if the liver is continuously kept busy with eliminating alcohol, its ability to carry out other tasks will get impaired. Chronic alcoholics are highly prone to liver ailments like cirrhosis which is fatal in nature.


    3 Responses for “ Kerala: The State in High ‘Spirits’ ”

    • Aneesh says:

      wow !!.. what a beautiful it is !

    • congrats.actual journalism.

    • Jeo Joy says:

      In fact, you might have given actual numbers in crores, but the thing that we all should know is that, each and every drop of IMFL and TODDY sold in Kerala are accounted… and therefore you find a huge amount being transferred.. on the other hand, in cities like b’lore and chennai you find more and more wine shops and bars owned by private people and not even 30% of actual business is shown on papers, if you take the sale of only banglore city you will find it equal to that of whole of Kerala’s sale….

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