Prohibition threat for South India

The Congress Party government of Kerala state has announced that it will outlaw the sale of alcohol

The Congress Party government of Kerala state has announced that it will outlaw the sale of alcohol in the Southern Indian state over the next ten years over health and safety concerns. Statistics provided by India’s Alcohol and Drug Information Centre report that 69 per cent of crimes, 40 per cent of road accidents and 80 per cent of divorce and domestic violence cases in Kerala are linked to the drugs and alcohol. The Kerala government holds a monopoly on the sale of alcohol and has seen sales through its 400 licensed stores rise from £7.2m in 1984 to £600 million by 2010. Church leaders are sympathetic to the government’s call to end the state’s drink culture, but have objected to calls by Hindu nationalist groups to extend the alcohol ban to communion wine. The Church of South India’s Bishop in Central Kerala the Rt. Rev. Thomas K Oommen told the New Indian Express that Hindu calls to enforce prohibition in churches was misguided. “The people have the common sense to discern what is right and what is wrong. There are many medicines that have alcohol content in them. Could we ban them also in the name of implementing total ban on alcohol?” the bishop said. V M Sudheeran, the head of the Congress party in Kerala, has so far rejected calls for a ban on communion wine, saying that the use of wine in churches is a centuries-old tradition and should not be banned. Sources tell the Church of England Newspaper that even if a ban were introduced it would not likely be enforced vigorously. The state of Gujarat has long had a ban on the sale of alcohol, but this has not impacted the use of communion wine in churches, or its ready availability to the public.

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