Pro­hi­bi­tion mak­ing Bi­har land of milk & honey: State study

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - FRONT PAGE - NEWS NET­WORK

Has the al­co­hol ban im­posed in 2016 turned Bi­har into a land of milk and honey, and helped re­duce crime rates? Two early stud­ies com­mis­sioned by the state gov­ern­ment seem to sug­gest so.

A study by the Devel­op­ment Man­age­ment In­sti­tute (DMI), Patna showed a 17.5% in­crease in the pur­chase of milk prod­ucts in 2016-17 com­pared with a year be­fore.

For widely con­sumed milk prod­ucts such as flavoured milk, Sudha spe­cial lassi and plain dahi, the in­crease was even higher.

The to­tal con­sump­tion of milk and milk prod­ucts would be even higher if one were to in­clude sales by pri­vate play­ers. Sale of honey grew 380% while cheese rose 200%.

The study also seems to in­di­cate that drinkers have di­verted their al­co­hol spends to con­sumer goods. For ex- am­ple, sale of ex­pen­sive sa­rees rose 1,715%, ex­pen­sive dress ma­te­rial rose 910%, and pro­cessed food grew 46%.

There has been an in­crease of 29% in the col­lec­tion of en­ter­tain­ment tax since pro­hi­bi­tion was im­posed in Bi­har, ac­cord­ing to a study com­mis­sioned by the state gov­ern­ment. Armed with more pur­chas­ing power, house­holds also pushed up sales of four-wheel­ers by 30%, trac­tors by 29% and two and three wheel­ers by 32%.

Bas­ing its cal­cu­la­tions on 2011 con­sump­tion fig­ures, the study showed there were 44 lakh al­co­holics in the state when pro­hi­bi­tion was an­nounced. “Even by a con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate, each of these drinkers have been spend­ing at least Rs 1,000 per month on al­co­hol. On this ba­sis, there was a sav­ing of at least Rs 440 crore every month, which trans­lates to Rs 5,280 crore per year,” the study said.

This ex­er­cise was based on data col­lected from five dis­tricts: Nawada, Pur­bia, Sa­mas­tipur, West Cham­paran and Kaimur. From each district, 2 blocks were cho­sen and from each block, 2 vil­lages were se­lected which led to a sam­ple of 20 vil­lages. From these vil­lages, 2,368 house­holds were se­lected for the pri­mary sur­vey.

The study on crime rates un­der­taken by the Patna-based Asian Devel­op­ment Re­search In­sti­tute showed an im­pact of the liquor ban on crime rates. The high­est de­crease was recorded for kid­nap­ping for ran­som (66.6%), fol­lowed by mur­der (28.3%) and da­coity (22.8%).

The Ni­tish Ku­mar gov­ern­ment had at­tracted crit­i­cism for its dra­co­nian pro­hi­bi­tion law and for the loss of rev­enue from the ex­er­cise. Re­cent state­ments from the state lead­er­ship have in­di­cated that there could be a re­view of the de­ci­sion.

How­ever, the lat­est eco­nomic sur­vey of Bi­har, which pub­lished both stud­ies, high­lights the pos­i­tive ef­fects of pro­hi­bi­tion. “Both the stud­ies con­clude that pro­hi­bi­tion has come as a boon, es­pe­cially for the eco­nom­i­cally vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tion in the so­ci­ety. It was first ob­served that crime rates have come down sig­nif­i­cantly in the post-pro­hi­bi­tion pe­riod, bring sub­stan­tial peace in the so­ci­ety. The money saved from drink­ing is now be­ing spent on bet­ter con­sump­tion and com­forts of life,” the eco­nomic sur­vey of the state con­cludes.

The Bi­har gov­ern­ment ap­proved the Bi­har Ex­cise (Amend­ment) Act in April 2016, be­com­ing the fourth state in the coun­try to im­pose pro­hi­bi­tion. The other three states are Gu­jarat, Na­ga­land and Lak­shad­weep.

Armed with more pur­chas­ing power, house­holds also pushed up sales of four-wheel­ers by 30%, trac­tors by 29% and two and three wheel­ers by 32%

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