Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Prohibition Visits Karnataka

The recent election in Karnataka came with a surprising twist, at least as viewed by my non-native/ expat eyes - A mandate that all establishments that sell alcohol must close for four days (except the big hotels that have a CL9 liquor license). I thought this was overreaching, unnecessarily punitive and completely ineffectual. But if I had to choose only one word it would be "absurd". At first I thought the idea was that the state wanted a sober electorate but I later learned the mandate was to prevent vote buying! Well, with a little more thought that still didn't make much sense as any would-be vote buyers could just stockpile booze before the ban or just use a different form of currency (like the petrol or groceries that I heard about). And why the single day closure several days after the elections on the day ballots were counted? To make things worse, establishments in Indiranagar, like Toit Brewery had to close an additional two days because of a local temple festival. The net result of this farce was that many thousands of small business owners and the employees that work for them lost a lot of money. The state also lost a lot of tax revenue. 

The US gave prohibition a go from 1920-1933. The "great experiment" is widely regarded now as a great failure. It didn't really stop anyone from drinking. What it did do was remove a revenue stream from the government and hand it to a bunch of thugs. The ban also made it possible for a lot of poor quality, completely unregulated and sometimes dangerous booze to get consumed. 

When it comes to alcohol sales Karnataka sure takes a back seat to anything that resembles a progressive way of doing things. Wether it's the ridiculous 11:30 PM daily closure Bangalorean's have to deal with, the dismal state-run liquor depot that we have to buy from (that keeps prices up, selection down and disrespects fragile products by storing them at improper temperatures), or the the poorly planned micro-brewery regulations and excessive taxation that goes along with them. One can only hope that the future will bring some sensible changes to Karnataka but with none of these issues decided by public vote it sure is difficult to imagine how or when such things would happen. It would seem the worlds largest democracy is sometimes not so democratic... 

Please note, the opinions expressed here are mine and not necessarily shared by the management at Windmills Craftworks. Cheers...

1 comment:

  1. It seems like I have read a lot about the prohibition expectations for Karnataka this year... Glad it only lasted a few days.
    About these subversive Karnatakian pleasures, have you tried Arrack?


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