source: http://www.southasiapost.org/2010/20100228/focus.htm#2 Liquor flows in Punjab as youth takes to drug Gobind Thukral - The South Asia Post - February 28, 2010 IT was written in bold letters on the back of a truck: “tere bache jeen, sharab peen”. Another truck had yet another slogan: “Tere bache jeen, sharab peen, tera khoon peen”. Some Punjabi humour indeed! We have immense capacity to laugh at ourselves. We have also immense capability to take to liquor and drugs. Name a brand of liquor from the high-end Blue Label to any brand of India Made Foreign Liquor and popularly called whisky to roori brand that homemade brew, Punjab is comfortable with all. In fact, some of the old hands at brewing boast of best variety of homemade and one can have the taste of these desi daru even posh houses of powerful politicians. These concoctions have endless ingredients. From simple jaggery mixed with oranges to almonds and other costly dry or fresh fruits, all possible combinations are used. These liquor consumers may harm their health, both physical and social, but they make immense contrition to the development of Punjab. Nay any other state in India. They provide funds for roads, education and health besides greasing the palms of the officials and ministers. Last year liquor vends in Punjab sold over 29 crore bottles. Haryana consumed another seventeen crore bottles. In spite of the economic hard times due to recession, liquor consumption in Punjab has touched an all time high, with its denizens guzzling roughly 29 crore bottles of Punjab Made Liquor (PML), Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and beer in 2009-2010. Perhaps better prices for wheat and paddy cotton have helped. Anyone in Punjab knows that a joyous ceremony like marriage or birthday is not possible without plenty of booze. This is a whopping increase of 10 crore bottle over the consumption of 19 crore bottles in the preceding year, suggesting that the tipplers have given a major boost to the revenue earnings of the financially starved state of Punjab. Harassed Akali BJP government is happy and thankful to the drinkers, though it would not say so. In other words, Punjab with a population of 2.5 crore has one of the highest per capita consumption in the country -- roughly 10 bottles (750 ml each) per head in a year. This is bedsides liquor procured from other sources. We get plenty of scotch and wine brought by a constant flow of foreign travellers. Every Punjabi has relatives and friends aboard. Then there are defence department canteens [CSD] spread all across the state for defence personnel and their friends, liquor smuggled from neighbouring states and, of course, the illicit brew. According to senior excise department officials, this should be more than legal sale- roughly 35 crore bottles. The total could be anywhere around 50 crore bottles in a year. And, the happiest man could be the Finance Minister, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal as he has collected record revenue of Rs 2,150 crore in 2009-2010 -- Rs 200 crore more than the preceding year. Ten per cent of more honesty would mean another ten percent rise in revenue. As the consumption of liquor shows an upward trend, the draft excise policy for the next year has proposed no hike in rates. it will help people buy more and consume more. But this should not be taken as a sign of buoyant economy. Farmers’ indebtedness tells its tale. Industrial production is down as is the service sector. Only farmers despite their conditions are helping the state economy to move up to 6.9 per cent this year. The state Excise and Taxation Department hopes to mop up an additional Rs 200 crore over the outgoing year from the sale of PML, IMFL as well as beer. For this, the department plans to increase the licence fee and also the quota of liquor the vendors can sell. The main reason for such an unprecedented spurt in liquor consumption is a major increase of PML, IMFL and beer quota by the state in order to counter the inflow of smuggled liquor from neighbouring states, particularly from Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh. A raise in liquor quota means decrease in liquor prices, spurring greater consumption. The new draft excise policy will come up for the Cabinet's approval on February 23. Officials who drafted the new policy have proposed no significant change in the allotment of liquor vends through draw of lots. There are 6,000 liquor vends across the state. They all make a hell of money and many of these are owned by powerful people including politicians. As per the Excise Department data, alcohol addicts in Punjab guzzled 1.5 crore cases of country liquor, 50 lakh of IMFL and 40 lakh of beer in 2009-10. A case contains 12 bottles. Add the drugs that our youth is getting addicted to and we a Punjab that may be starving intellectually and aesthetically, but not from liquor and drugs. In this context one event which brought the truth out is quoted this week by Governor of Manipur, Mr. Gurbachan Jagat who went to address the convocation of ho his old Government College Hoshiarpur. Mr. Jagat a former police chief Jammu and Kashmir and Border Security Force is an honest intelligent officer who found most of the students in his old college who received degrees were young girls. He asked the principal where the boys had gone. They are either moving to foreign lands or busy consuming drugs and alcohol. The educationists over there asserted that these days over 70 per cent students in colleges and universities in Punjab are girls. They also take merit positions beating boys hollow. Good in one way, but for society in many other ways.