south indian drunkardSouth Indian states are now accounting for 60% of alcohol consumption of the entire country. The figure is staggering when you consider that their population is only 22-23% of the national population. Alcohol expenditure is increasing tremendously to Rs.193 billion in 2013-14 from Rs.137 billion in 2012-13, reflecting increasing acceptance of drinking culture by Indian households. An average Indian household is reported to spend Rs.713 on drinking in 2013-14.

Market size of alcohol is largest in southern states at Rs.109 billion accounting for 60 per cent of alcohol consumption in Indian. This reflects popularity of drinking in these states. But Andhrites still seem to fare better than other south Indian states. By saying better, I mean they drink less. In fact in all Southern states except for Andhra Pradesh, an average household spends more on alcohol than on health. In Kerala, an average household spent 12 times more on alcohol than on health.

When it comes to average expenditure, Keralite households spent the highest on alcohol at Rs.4,206 per household on an average, which is more than five times the alcohol expense of an average Indian household. Large scale consumption in Kerala resulted in rising road accidents, marital breakdowns and alcohol related diseases. As a step to lower the increasing alcohol abuse, Keralite Government had imposed a complete ban on alcohol sold in bar and dry days on Sunday since August 2014 which resulted in closing down of 418 bars. However, the ban on alcohol affected the tourism in Kerala and loss of jobs of several people employed in these bars. In a move to prohibit alcohol in phased manner, beer and wine are allowed to be sold in bars and dry day on Sunday is removed from December 2014. The working hour of bar were reduced from 15 hours a day to 12:30 hours a day. With these changes on alcohol sale in Kerala, alcohol consumption could decline in 2014-15.

Lowest average expenditure is seen in West Bengal at Rs.64 per household in 2013-14. Rising taxes and no issuance of license for new bars or liquor shops in the past 3-4 years have resulted in soaring inflation on alcohol in West Bengal. This is one of the primary reasons of low consumption. Poor people end up consuming hooch which often leads to tragedy of intoxication and death of drinkers. Many such hooch tragic incidents in the recent 3-4 years in West Bengal may be one of the possible reason why poor people might have reduced alcohol consumption.

As reported by CMIE