Tippler's own country...

Kerala gained a new name recently: "Tippler's own country". The name comes at a befitting time, when Kerala just won the first place in consumption of liquor in the country. The per capita consumption of Keralites was recently found to be a whopping 8.3 litres, equalling the record of the US!

Malayalees enjoy a special pride in queuing up to get that righteous bottle of their favorite spirit. The fact that the entire wholesale and retail sale of Liquor in Kerala is handled solely by agencies appointed by the State Government, makes it mandatory for people to queue up. The sales of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) is done through outlets managed by the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) and Consumerfed (Kerala State Co.Operative Consumers' Federation Ltd).  People purchase liquor with the same patience (or even better) as they queue up outside a ration shop.

A queue outside a Beverages Corporation outlet in Alappuzha. This queue is too small though.
Malayalees, given their will power, can easily be the world leaders in Liquor consumption - world records are not too far off for us! While the rest of India contributes with "premium" liquor, Keralites concentrate on drinking Brandy (30%) and Rum (65%), and very little of premium drinks (just 5%).

The day before, newspapers made it a matter of pride for Malayalees, by highlighting the fact that this new year brought some jackpot to the Beverages corporation. It seems we Malayalees drank liquor worth Rs. 32 crores on New Year eve! (See this link). Kerala downed liquor worth Rs. 597 crore over just a month - of December! Out of this, more than Rs. 90 crores were sold during the three days preceeding Christmas alone! Onam is considered the biggest season for KSBC - the corporation makes sales over 150 crores during Onam alone!

Various political and social organisations have begun programs to spread message on the ill-effects of Alcohol, but to no use. During New Year, Irinjalakkuda took the first place in liquor consumption - it was Chalakkudy for Onam! We are proud that Thrissur district has retained the prestigious position this time as well. I sincerely hope we do not concede this position to other districts during the upcoming season(s).

In a recent news article published by the United News of India (UNI), it becomes obvious that the corporation (KSBC) earns over Rs. 4000 during the peak season alone (April to November) - this year the figure stands at Rs. 4,314.66 crores! The corporation's managing director N Sanker Reddy claimed that his corporation expects to earn an additional Rs. 500 crores of the public's hard earned money - since their big season (the New Year) is just around! He added a sarcastic remark, "Now people cannot imagine celebrating any festival or occasion, even if it is a ritual related to death, without liquor and it is an unavoidable drink in celebrations."

No wonder that the KSBC is the sole profitable corporation run by the Government of Kerala! Close to 40% of the State's tax revenue comes from the sale of liquor alone! (It would be just obvious that the same proportion of the State's health budget goes in treating alcoholics!). It is really sad that the government is so enthusiastic to sell liquor at such rates. The government is doing very little to stop this endless craze of drinking - afterall we are not developing a healthy hobby. The next time you spend Rs. 100 on a bottle, remember that you are giving as much as Rs. 80 to the government as taxes - no wonder the government is happy that you are drinking.

Please do visit the Gastroenterology ward of any major hospital near you, before queuing up for a bottle - people with Alcoholic Liver Disease are often laughing stocks for medical staff around. Its not fun to walk around with a protruding stomach (which is often the effect of deteriorating liver disease), and die a painful death. Do we need to really suffer so much for a few minutes of intoxication?