Alcohol: India

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Deaths by poisonous liquor consumption, state-wise: 2004-2014; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Jun 23 2015
Some facts, prohibition of alcohol in India; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, August 12, 2015
An annual calendar of ‘dry’ days when liquor cannot be sold in Maharashtra; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, September 15, 2015

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


The law

Alcohol consumption not a right: HC

Consumption of alcohol not a right: Kerala HC, The Times of India Jan 2017

Upholding the liquor policy of the previous government, the Kerala HC ruled that consumption of alcohol is not a fundamental right. “ To drink or not to drink. That is the Hamletian dilemma of Anoop.He has chosen to drink,“ it said while referring to the petitioner.

Banning alcohol, state-wise

Uttarakhand HC declares holy circuit dry zone

AmitAnand Choudhary, Don't try to play lawmaker, SC tells judges, Dec 9, 2016: The Times of India

Uttarakhand high court ordered the state government to impose a complete ban on possession, distribution, collection, sale, purchase or consumption of liquor, including beer, in Rudrapra yag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts, where the Char Dham shrines are located, from the financial year (2017-18).

The court noted that Bihar, taking into considera tion the “evil consequences of consumption of liquor“, had imposed complete prohibition on it across the state.


The number of sales outlets in 2017

VIJAYAWADA|50,000 belt shops, 4,380 liquor outlets and 768 bars in State July 26, 2017: The Hindu

80% public say no to unauthorised liquor outlets: survey

There are about 50,000 belt shops (unlicensed liquor outlets) in the State. With Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu directing the officials to act tough on belt shop organisers, officers are conducting raids on them.

N. Sambasiva Rao, DGP, said the police and the Prohibition and Excise Department officials were taking steps to close them down.

“A survey was taken up on the belt shops and about 80% of the public say no to the unlicensed liquor outlets and asked the government to close them immediately,” the DGP said.

“Belt shops are being run in different modes. The organisers are selling liquor on push carts, pan shops, houses, dhabas, hotels, kirana shops, bicycles [on the pretext of selling tea] and other ways. We are taking action against those who are running them,” Mr. Rao said.

The police were also taking action against the tipplers consuming liquor on roads and public places. Instructions had been issued to intensify patrolling at the liquor shops and bars to prevent consumption of liquor openly, a police officer said.

773 belt shop organisers held

Speaking to The Hindu on Tuesday, Prohibition and Excise Director (Enforcement) K. Venkateshwara Rao said 757 belt shops had been closed and cases were booked against 773 organisers in the last seven days. Excise officials suspended the licences of 46 wine shops for selling stock to outsiders.

“We seized 3,339 litres of liquor and 940 litres of beer, being sold in belt shops. Special Task Force teams have been constituted to check belt shops. We will take action against the wine shop owners, if the stock is sold to any outsider or an establishment. Owners of the licensed liquor outlets will be made responsible if tipplers take liquor on roads,” the DGP warned.

Drug and alcohol deaddiction

2013-16: aid for rehabilitation centres

See graphics:

Funds released for assistance for prevention of alcoholism and substance abuse, 2013-16

Consumption of beer in 2016

Funds released for assistance for prevention of alcoholism and substance abuse, 2013-16; The Times of India, December 5, 2016
Consumption of alcohol in 2016; The Times of India, Dec 25, 2016

Incidence of alcohol consumption

Per capita consumption of alcohol per week, state-wise(All figures in ml.), Source: NSSO data 2011-12; alcohol includes toddy, country liquor, beer, foreign/refined liquor, wine; Graphic courtesy: India Today

Alcohol consumption in India: 1992-2002

The Times of India, May 17 2015

Sumitra DebRoy

At 55%, India records 3rd highest increase in alcohol consumption

A global study has found that alcohol consumption in India has risen by 55% over a period of 20 years.More worryingly, youngsters are being initiated to alcohol much earlier, while more women are indulging in hazardous and binge drinking.

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently published a report examining the economic and health implications of alcohol use among its 34 member and a few nonmember countries. Among a list of 40 nations, India was placed as high as third, only after the Russian Federation and Estonia, for increase in alcohol intake between 1992 and 2012. Countries that closely followed India were China, Israel and Brazil. The OECD report said heavy drinking was alarmingly on the rise among youth and women in many countries. “An increasing proportion of children experience alcohol and drunkenness at early ages. Girls have caught up with boys in the past 10 years,“ it stated.

The percentage of under-15 boys who haven't had alcohol went down from 44% to 30%, while for girls it decreased from 50% to 31% in the 2000s.

The trend of heavy drinking witnessed among the young of all countries has experts worried. “It can be dangerous and have long-term effects such as habit formation or other chronic conditions,“ said hepatologist Dr Aabha Nagral, who consults with Jaslok Hospital.

Binge drinking among the youth has also been associated with increased possibilities of road accidents and disabilities in the report. Dr P C Gupta, director of Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health, quoted a WHO report which said about 30% of Indians consume alcohol, out of which 4-13% are daily consumers and up to 50% of these fall under the category of hazardous drinking.

The OECD researchers evaluated that drinkers from member states were downing an equivalent of over nine litres of pure alcohol per year, which further rose by a few units if home brewed and illegal stocks were taken into account.“All of this amounts to drinking over 100 bottles of wine, or 200 litres of beer, in a year,“ the report stated. Interestingly , Indians featured much lower here as average consumption of pure alcohol hovered around 2.5-3 litres annually .

The findings have set alarm bells ringing within the medical fraternity and health activists who are demanding a national policy to curb alcohol use.

21.4% of Indians consume alcohol: UNODC

The Times of India, Aug 27 2015

Dipak Dash

United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) report

DRUG MENACE - RTI: 21.4% of Indians consume alcohol  3% of population hooked to cannabis

Punjab, Maharashtra, Manipur, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are among the top 10 states where consumption of alcohol and narcotic drugs is higher than the rest of the country, according to a RTI response from home ministry.

Quoting a survey conducted by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), the National Institute of Social Defence, a wing of MHA, has submitted that 21.4% Indians consume alcohol while 3% hooked to cannabis. The RTI was filed by a Delhi resident Ved Pal following recent cases of lives lost due to consumption of illicit alco hol in the country.

The RTI reply also mentions the list of 19 states and Union Territories that are in “major grasp“ of alcohol and drugs.Seven of these states are from north India including Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and UP . Except Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura, all other states from the northeast are in the list.

“Governments take the credit that they have earned crores of rupees through taxes and excise duty from the sale of alcohol.But governments should not be into this money making business. The entire amount that they have earned so far should be spent on creating awareness against consumption of alcohol and the rehabilitation of the addicts,“ Ved Pal said.

The UNODC study on “National Survey on Extent, Pattern and Trends of Drug Abuse in India“ that was released in 2004 had found that alcohol, cannabis and opiates are the major substances of abuse in India and the prevalence of drug abuse among males is significant. It had also found how women face the worst and are under huge burden if any member in their families is addicted to alcohol or drugs.

It had recommended the need to have schemes to attract drug users for treatment and developing programmes for vulnerable groups such as youth, street children and prisoners.

2015: Alcohol consumption in India and the world

2015- Alcohol consumption in India, China and the world
From: May 5, 2018: The Times of India

See graphic:

2015- Alcohol consumption in India, China and the world

2016: Indians drinking more, but not to get drunk

The Times of India, September 11, 2016

John Sarkar

Indians are now drinking more, but not to get drunk  A change in tastes and a yearning for aspirational lifestyles have led to the increase in sales of wine and beer.Youngsters have fuelled a boom in tequila, sales of which shot up by 10% in 2014-15.

“Gone are the days when youngsters would stay over at a friend's place and down a bottle of whisky or rum, in the fear that they would get scolded at home. These days, it's more about social drinking over good conversation with soft alcohol such as wine and craft beer,“ said Kapil Sekhri, director of Indian wine company Fratelli Wines.“In every sphere of life, the erstwhile feeling that `alcohol is taboo' is fading away.“

Among wines, sales of still light wine showed 17% growth in 2014-15, the highest among all wine segments, driven mainly by value lines of local brands. Growth of champagne, however, remained muted with demand for rose increasing. Flavours are keeping the vodka category alive too. While sales of plain vodka are showing a decline, flavoured ones are flying off the shelves mainly due to demand from young consumers. It's the same story with rum, with the flavoured variety finding favour with consumers and growing by 45% in 2014-15.

Aspirations are driving consumers to upgrade too. The trend is stark in whisky with the Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) category showing higher value growth than volume growth, as consumers have traded up to higher price points.

“The changing consumer dynamic with the growth in disposable income is spurring the demand for premium lifestyle brands,“ said Raja Banerji, AVP-marketing, Pernod Ricard India. “With evolving tastes of the discerning consumer, India has become the third fastestgrowing market for all blended scotch in the past five years.“

Beer, the world's most widely consumed alcoholic beverage, is on a high in India as well. Although growth was affected in 2014-15 due to slack in the IT sector in Karnataka and drought in Maharashtra, the country's largest beer state, the category is still growing thanks to consumers not hesitating to experiment.

“The Indian consumer has come a long way and is willing to experiment, willing to choose `taste over testosterone',“ said Ankur Jain, CEO and founder of B9 Beverages that sells Bira 91, a local craft beer.

“Beer is a highly regulated industry , therefore it's not easy to introduce a new brand every now and then. But there is a huge untapped market with potential, which has pushed for emergence of various brands with unique identities.“

Grocery stores: bars ratio, 2016

Grocery to Bar ratio, India and the world, 2016
From: The Times of India, October 15, 2017

See graphic:

Grocery to Bar ratio, India and the world, 2016

New Year revelries, 2017/18

Delhi: liquor worth ₹30cr consumed

Booze worth ₹30cr downed on Dec 31, January 4, 2018: The Times of India

Delhiites partied hard on the eve of New Year, gulping down alcohol worth around Rs 30 crore. “There was a spurt in sale of liquor in the city on December 31. As per our records, the sale of alcohol was around Rs 30 crore that day,” a senior government official said.

“The entire month of December has generated Rs 458 crore for the Delhi government since it was a festive season,” the official added.

In the last financial year, Delhi government had earned a revenue of Rs 4,243 crore from the sale of alcohol.

On New Year’s Eve, a total of 1,752 drunken revellers had been penalised by Delhi Police.

Telangana: Rs 100 crore

January 2, 2018: The Times of India


Sources said liquor sales were high in unified districts of Nizamabad, Warangal, Karimnagar, Nalgonda and Khammam apart from Greater Hyderabad.

The excise department earned about 20% more on liquor sale in December this year compared to December 2016.

Hike in liquor rates by the state government a few days ago did not weaken the will of tipplers wanting to usher in New Year in high spirits. This was reflected by the fact that nearly ₹100 crore liquor sales were registered only on December 31, 2017. And the excise department earned about 20% more on liquor sale in December this year compared to December 2016.

"In December, the excise department earned ₹1,645 crore, which is about 20% more than December 2016. Our department is getting district-wise details," excise commissioner RV Chandravadan told TOI on Monday. Sources said, while official figures are still being tabulated, indications are that sale of liquor on New Year Eve alone would easily cross ₹100 crore.

Sources said liquor sales were high in unified districts of Nizamabad, Warangal, Karimnagar, Nalgonda and Khammam apart from Greater Hyderabad. Officials and retail outlet owners feared the average 10% rate hike on liquor would have had an adverse impact on sales during New Year celebrations. "Going by the sales, it did not have any impact," they said.

"Over 2,200 retail outlets owners in the state have lifted ₹75 crore worth of liquor a day from December 26 from 17 depots. These six days alone contributed nearly ₹450 crore sales from depots," an official of Telangana State Beverage Corporation Limited (TSBCL) said.

New Year revelries, 2018/19


January 9, 2019: The Times of India

Delhi guzzled 16.5L bottles of booze on Dec 31

Delhiites gulped down over 16.5 lakh liquor bottles on the eve of New Year. A Delhi government official said there was a spurt in sale of liquor in the city on December 31.

Laws restricting alcohol sales

RISHABH BANERJI | 6 Bizarre State Laws Regarding Liquor Consumption In India | JANUARY 27, 2016 | IndiaTimes/ The Times of India

1. Hyderabad/ Telangana

The Telangana government has implemented a ban which prohibits the sale of alcohol within 100 metres of the state, or national highways. That means, no liquor store or pub can be open within a distance of 100 metres. Even three and five-star hotels aren't exempt from this rule.

2. Uttar Pradesh + all other states.

While most parts of the country have a minimum drinking age of 21, in places like Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Meghalaya it's 25. Not to forget the minimum drinking age in Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry still remains 18.

3. Punjab + Haryana

Establishments in Punjab and Haryana, according to the Punjab Excise Act of 1914, are prohibited from hiring "women in any part of such premises in which such liquor or intoxicating drug is consumed by the public". Yes, no woman can be employed anywhere near a place when alcohol is being served.

4. Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep is the only union territory in India where alcohol consumption is prohibited. Since 1995, residents cannot drink anywhere except this little island called Bangaram.

5. Maharashtra

Not only is 25 the legal age of drinking in Maharashtra, but one also needs to have a licence to consume liquor. Possession, consumption, or even transportation of alcohol without a permit/licence can result in a fine of Rs.50,000 and/or 5 years in prison. To make things easier for the consumer, hotels and bars started buying these permits in bulk and giving them away to their guests. However, Wardha, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli are the only three districts of Maharashtra that have completely banned the consumption and sale of alcohol.

6. Andamans

Between 2008 and 2010, the last day of every month would be a dry day! Although not confirmed by officials, it believed that the law was to prevent people working for a salary from splurging all their money on alcohol. Additionally, for some odd reason, the 7th day of every month still remains a dry day in the state.

7. Assam

In Assam, every month end and 1st day of the month is dry day... (Arnab Phonglosa)

Legal drinking age

All states

The following information has been taken from the website of the Indian National Bar Association. At least on UP they were factually wrong, and Indpaedia has corrected them:

Andhra Pradesh 21

Arunachal Pradesh 21


Bihar 21



Goa 18

Gujarat Illegal

Haryana 18

Himachal Pradesh 18

Jammu and Kashmir 21

Jharkhand 21

Karnataka 21

Kerala 21

Lakshadweep Illegal

Madhya Pradesh 18

Maharashtra 25

Manipur Illegal


Mizoram Illegal

Orissa 21

Puducherry 18


Rajasthan 18

Sikkim 18

Tamil Nadu 21

Uttar Pradesh 21 (not 18)

Uttrakhand 21

West Bengal 21

The Times of India added on Jun 25, 2011:

Indeed, the legal drinking age of 25 that prevails in some Indian states, including Maharashtra and Delhi, is by far the highest in the world. It is outdone only by the 30 drinking-age limit in force in Maharashtra state’s district of Wardha.

States like Kerala and Sikkim allow drinking from 18 while in Arunachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the legal drinking age is 21—as is the case in Karnataka, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Karnataka: 21 years

Is legal age to drink in Karnataka 18 or 21? | SEPTEMBER 22, 2016 | The Hindu

Even Wikipedia shows the State’s drinking age as 18, and this confusion is repeated in numerous online forums.

Ashish Kothare, city Head of National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), believes there was little confusion among responsible pub and bar owners who do not allow those under 21 years to enter the pubs. “For many, the mere threat of suspension of licences is enough…But, there are irresponsible bar owners, and action should be taken against them,” he said.

Kerala: 23 years

Reported by Sneha Mary Koshy, Edited by Shylaja Varma | Thursday June 8, 2017| Kerala Loosens Alcohol Ban, Minimum Drinking Age Raised To 23 | NDTV

Kerala Loosens Alcohol Ban, Minimum Drinking Age Raised To 23 The Left government in Kerala has moved to drastically dilute its predecessor's ban on alcohol by allowing hotels that are three-stars or fancier to sell alcohol. While the ban has been loosened, the minimum drinking age has been raised from 21 to 23.

Uttar Pradesh: 21 years, since 1976

The United Provinces Excise Act, 1910 allowed the consumption of Alcohol at 18-years. This was changed to 21-years by an amendment made in 1976.

The relevant sections of the amended United Provinces Excise Act read as follows: (UP Excise)

22. Prohibition of sale to persons under the age of [Twenty One Years] - No license[d] vendor and no person in the employ of such vendor and acting on his behalf shall sell or deliver any [liquor] or intoxicating drug to any person apparently under the age of [Twenty One Years] whether for consumption by such person or by any other person and whether for consumption on or off the premises of such vendor.

23. Prohibition of employment of persons under the age of [Twenty One Years] and of women –

(1) No person who is licensed to sell [liquor]6 for consumption on his premises shall during the hours in which such premises are kept open for business, employ or permit to be employed, either with or without remuneration any [person] under the age of [Twenty One Years] , in any part of such premises in which such liquor or spirit is consumed by the public.

(2) No person who is licensed to sell foreign liquor for consumption on his premises shall, without the previous permission in writing of the [Excise Commissioner] during the hours in which such premises are kept open for business, employ or permit to be employed, either with or without remuneration, any woman in any part of such premises in which liquor is consumed by the public.

(3) Every permission granted under sub-section(2) shall be endorsed on the license, and may be modified or withdrawn

Poisonous liquor consumption

State-wise position in 2014

The Times of India, Jun 23 2015

The recent hooch tragedy in Mumbai has claimed about 100 lives, perhaps the largest toll caused by consumption of spurious poisonous liquor for the city, crossing the toll of the 2004 Vikhroli incident which killed about 50 people. Data on deaths caused by spurious poisonous liquor shows that hooch has killed 9,986 people in India in the past decade. Tamil Nadu witnessed 1,561 deaths in this period, the highest in the country.It was followed by Punjab, Karnataka and West Bengal. Gujarat, which is a dry state, also witnessed about 900 deaths

See graphic for details

Personnel issues

Employment of women in Kerala

IMFL outlets in Kerala can employ women, rules HC, Dec 21, 2016: The Times of India

 The Kerala HC has permitted employment of wom en in IMFL stores by declaring the rules against it unconstitutional. Ruling that such a policy is in violation of constitutional provisions regarding equality before law (Article 14) and gender-based discrimination (Article 15), the court cited an SC judgement that such a ruling can't be allowed to stand as it suffers from discrimination. The court was considering two petitions filed by seven women from Kollam who were denied jobs with the state beverages corporation (Bevco) despite being included in the rank list.  

See also

Alcohol: India

Alcohol and the Indian physique

Prohibition: India

Prohibition: Mizoram

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