The Debatable Liquor Ban In Nagaland - Eastern Mirror
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The Debatable Liquor Ban in Nagaland

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By EMN Updated: Apr 03, 2024 11:18 pm

 “Liquor seized in Nagaland by the police” is a headline which frequents the news in newspapers in the state. The status of Nagaland as a dry state has been under scrutiny since the implementation of the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition (NLTP) Act in1989. This Act prohibits liquor possession, sale, consumption, and manufacture, as well as its import and export in the state. However, it is often called the ‘decoration act’ due to its futile nature.

The NLTP Act’s feasibility is frequently debated among politicians, civil societies, and the state’s citizens. Neiphiu Rio, the Chief Minister of Nagaland, spoke about the issue during a press conference on 27th March 2023, suggesting a re-evaluation of the ban. He highlighted the importance of purchasing alcohol from registered factories to ensure the quality of the liquor. Rio also expressed his concerns that the revenue from alcohol sales was benefiting neighbouring states, such as Assam, and that the taxes collected from sellers were not helping the state government but instead going into the “wrong hands.”

It is worth noting that alcohol consumption in ‘dry’ Nagaland among individuals aged 15-49 years is higher than the national average, as indicated by the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) report for 2020-2021. According to the report, 31% of men aged between 15-49 consume alcohol in Nagaland, which is higher than the national average of 22.4%. However, the report also reveals that 1.4% of females in the same age group consume alcohol in Nagaland, which is higher than the national average of 0.7%.

The unintended consequences of implementing the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition (NLTP) Act appear to have outweighed the intended benefits. The Naga culture has a strong tradition of consuming locally brewed rice beers and wines. However, the prohibition of alcohol sales has led to unforeseen issues, such as widespread underage drinking. Additionally, the inflated prices of alcohol sold in the black market, the cost of one can of Kingfisher Beer goes up to INR 300 (the prices differ from district to district), have resulted in the sale of adulterated products, leading to various health concerns.

Moreover, reports suggest that police officers are allegedly involved in bootlegging and collecting illegal taxes from alcohol sellers, further complicating the situation. Furthermore, many socio-political issues due to the ban, which are not immediately visible, affect society, but we are not fully aware of them due to their unnoticeable nature.

At least 15% of women in Nagaland have experienced physical or sexual violence. In comparison, 2% of pregnant women have experienced physical violence during one or more of their pregnancies, according to the National Family Health Survey (4th series).

Domestic violence in the region is often linked to husbands with drinking problems, indicating a complex interplay of social and behavioural factors contributing to this issue.

Something to think about is whether, Are we, as a society, contributing to a collaborative disability of the state if we ignore the repercussions and the more profound socio-political impact of banning alcohol as a society and compromising the health of our own people to maintain the utopian image of a Christian state? By neglecting to address the inherent challenges of moulding our state in this manner, are we not only increasing the likelihood of criminal activities but also jeopardising the health and well-being of our citizens through the proliferation of illicit or illegal and potentially harmful substances?

Our disregard for these multifaceted issues not only undermines the state’s ability to govern effectively but also exposes our society to more significant risks and perpetuates a state of ignorance regarding the broader implications of our decisions, creating more opportunities for officials and its citizens alike to engage in illegal activities, which goes against the teachings of the church and implicates all of us as hypocrites.

Ruguosanuo Angeline kez

1st year, Masters in Media and Cultural Studies

Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

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By EMN Updated: Apr 03, 2024 11:18:16 pm
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