Bihar turning to expensive clothes after liquor ban

Bihar turning to expensive clothes after liquor ban

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi. PTI file photo

Prohibition is making people of Bihar spend on good clothes and food with sale of expensive sarees rising by 1,751 percent while consumption of honey by 380 percent and that of cheese by 200 percent in the first six months of the ban, according to latest studies on the measure.

The studies, conducted by reputed think tank Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI) and government-funded knowledge institute Development Management Institute (DMI), also pointed out that 19 percent of households acquired new assets from the money they earlier splurged on alcohol.

Both studies were commissioned by the state to evaluate consequences of prohibition, which came into force in April 2016 "mainly as a response to demands of rural women who suffered because of the widespread practice of drinking alcohol".

The findings were appended to the economic survey report and tabled before the state assembly this year.

The ADRI study took stock of purchasing behaviour as recorded at retail outlets of COMFED (Bihar State Milk Co-operative Federation), better known by the brand name "Sudha".

It noted that the consumption of honey registered a monumental increase by 380 percent and cheese by 200 percent.

An impressive rise in the sale was also recorded for items like buttermilk - 40 percent - flavoured milk -28.4 percent- and lassi -19.7 percent- the report said.

The ADRI study collected data on purchase of a few other consumer items as well, based on sales tax revenues. The increase was substantial - the sale of expensive sarees rose by 1,751 percent, expensive dress materials by 910 percent, processed food by 46 percent, furniture by 20 percent and sports goods by 18 percent.

The other study done by DMI also underscored the "substantial economic impact" of the ban on alcohol.

The DMI study, based on primary data collected from 2,368 households in five districts of Nawada, Purnea, Samastipur, West Champaran and Kaimur, noted that families reported a weekly expenditure of Rs 1331 on food after prohibition, compared with Rs 1005 before the ban, implying an increase of 32 percent".

"After prohibition, 19 percent of households acquired new assets and another five percent spent money on renovating their house", the study said.

It also observed that 58 percent women feel they were given more respect and played a better role in making household decisions.

Going further, 22 percent of women said their opinion was now counted not just for household matters, but for village issues as well, the study added.

On the crime front, the ADRI report noted there was a 66.6 percent dip in cases of kidnapping for ransom, followed by 28.3 percent dip in murder cases and 2.3 percent in dacoity.

Taking into account the consumption figures of 2011, there were at least 44 lakh alcoholics in Bihar when the prohibition was enforced in April 2016.

Even by conservative estimates, each of these boozers has been spending at least Rs 1,000 per month on alcohol, the ADRI study said.

On this basis, at least Rs 440 crore every month was saved every month, which translates to Rs 5,280 crore every year, it added.