Amid the criticism over Bihar’s much-debated liquor ban which was termed ‘unconstitutional’ by the Patna High Court, its effects seem to be quite apparent. According to one of the studies conducted by Asian Development Research Institute (ARDI), 19 per cent of households acquired new assets from the money they earlier splurged on alcohol. According to the study’s findings, prohibition, which was brought in on the behest of villagers and women, is making people of Bihar spend on good clothes and food with the sale of expensive sarees rising by 1,751 per cent while consumption of honey by 380 per cent and that of cheese by 200 per cent in the first six months of the ban.
Another study by Development Management Institute (DMI) underscored the “substantial economic impact” of the ban on alcohol. The findings point out that there was an increase of 32 percent on weekly food expenditure by families after prohibition. Sale of expensive dress materials rose by 910 percent, processed food by 46 percent, furniture by 20 percent and sports goods by 18 percent.
The studies also mention that there was a dip in the numbers of crimes reported, with cases of kidnapping for ransom falling by two-thirds. It also reported that 58 percent of women felt they were given more respect and played a better role in making household decisions while 22 percent of women said their opinion was now counted for village issues as well.
According to PTI, the state’s 44 lakh alcoholics saved Rs 440 crore every month.
Timeline of prohibition in Bihar
In 2015, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced a total ban on the sale and consumption of all types of alcohol in the state effective from April 1, 2016. On September 30, Patna High Court ruled the ban “illegal, impractical and unconstitutional” after which the Bihar government approached the Supreme Court to challenge the High Court order. Setting aside the High Court order, Supreme Court said that “ban on liquor and fundamental rights do not go together”. On January 21, 2017, more than 3 crore people formed a human chain in Bihar stretching 12,760 kms in support of prohibition.
However, the prohibition has also resulted in a staggering 1.25 lakh arrests over the last two years and has also resulted in a substantial loss in the state’s revenue.
Other than Bihar, only Gujarat and Lakshwadeep have functional liquor bans while prohibition in Nagaland is lax.