Teetotalitarian India: Does ban on beef, prohibition of liquor herald a new social movement?

Shubham Ghosh
Liquor ban, highways, supreme court, delhi gurgaon expressway

Amid the hullabaloo caused by Uttar Pradesh's new chief minister Yogi Adityanath unleashing forces to ban slaughterhouses in UP, many other BJP-ruled states also decided to take similar steps.

Gujarat, for instance, passed a bill saying the killing of a cow could lead to life in prison, while Chhattisgarh's Chief Minister Raman Singh said he would hang anybody who kills a bovine.

The Supreme Court's observation, made last December that the sale of liquor near highways was leading to a rise in drunken driving, causing fatal accidents, came into effect on April 1.

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The initiatives taken by some BJP-ruled states to ban beef and the apex court's prohibition on the sale of alcohol near highways (within 500 metres), however, are not exceptions. The governments of states like Bihar and Kerala imposed a total ban on alcohol in the recent past, surprising many quarters, since liquor is a great source of revenue.

Indian states and beef ban
No to beef ban Yes to beef ban
West Bengal All other states
Kerala  
Sikkim  
Arunachal  
Mizoram  
Meghalaya  
Nagaland  
Tripura  

States like Gujarat, Nagaland and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep have also prohibited the sale of liquor, while states like Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and Manipur have experimented with prohibiting alcohol in the past, only to reverse the decision later.

And now, with the apex court's ruling that many have termed judicial overreach, all states in the country will be facing some consequences in terms of a loss in revenue and a backlash from the bar-owners' lobby.

Indian states and alcohol ban
States that say no to alcohol States that have experimented with banning liquor
Gujarat Andhra Pradesh
Nagaland Haryana
Kerala Tamil Nadu
Lakshadweep Mizoram
Bihar Manipur

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In the case of beef, whether ruled by the BJP or not, most states of the country have prohibition in place on slaughter.

Barring West Bengal, Kerala and a few north-eastern states like Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura, slaughter of a cow is disallowed.

beef ban

As against the common perception, India's food habits are mostly non-vegetarian (it is no surprise, given the country has such vast coasts and hilly settlements) while its alcohol consumption is gradually on the rise (per capita consumption of alcohol in the country increased from 1.6 liters in 2003-2005 to 2.2 liters in 2010-2012).

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In these circumstances, the call for a ban on beef and alcohol by the governments and courts raisees a pertinent question: Is India on its way to become a teetotalitarian state? And if so, do its citizens not get a say in the matter?

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