Thursday, June 25, 2009

Alcoholism and Kerala - Made for Each Other?

The photo to your right is not a queue for a movie or anything like that but a queue in front of a liquor shop in Kerala. Every dawn scenes like this is common in Kerala. No wonder Kerala has the highest per capita consumption of alcohol in India.

The culture of drinking is so deep rooted in Kerala that it is tough to live as a teetotaler. As soon as I completed my B Tech in Civil Engineering I joined work in a construction company in Central Kerala. We used to have lot of parties sponsored by my company and other contractors. I used to attend most of it but when it comes to drinking part I used to politely decline. One day in one of the parties I told that I am not drinking and one of the senior manager who was fully drunk called me and told "Did you ever go to an engineering college? I am ashamed to tell to every one that I have an engineer in my office that doesn't drink". That has become Kerala culture - whether you are an engineer or a doctor or a priest if you are a Malayali male, you are supposed to drink.

I happened to see a debate about drinking in Kairali, in the program "Cross Fire" presented by John Britas (in Malayalam). The panel consisting of actor N.L. Balakrishnan, a business man E M Najeem, Addict India President Johnson Edayaranmula and an activist fighting for liquor ban in Kerala Arimanur Sivarajan. The entire video is about 45 minutes and brings about some facts that should never make us proud.

In the first part of the video N.L Balakrishanan talks about his drinking habits and his views on why drinking in not that bad. E M Najeem who owns two hotels claims that one can promote tourism even without alcohol. Johnson gives us some statistics of liquor consumption in Kerala that is mind boggling. The per capita consumption of liquor in Kerala is 20 liters per person among people who drink.



Another statistics - the average age one starts drinking dropped from 19 years in 1986 to 13.5 years in 2006! Activist Sivarajan talks about why the movement to ban alcohol in Kerala has failed time and again.


The third part discusses why this is happening and what can be done to prevent the menace.

In the fourth and fifth part of this talk show discussion looses its flow with participation of people.


The drinking culture in which Kerala is immersed need to be changed. Other wise the price we have to pay for it in the long run will be immense.

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10 Comments:

Blogger ~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

Even i had got similar comments when i was working in Orissa. They all even confused wine drinking @ Christian weddings with the so called Drinking Culture in Kerala. Each of them was surprised when i said i don't drink, they were like "Oh you mean you don't drink in daytime".

This needs to change! Good post!

June 25, 2009 10:11 AM  
Blogger Static Variable said...

i have been in the software field for 4 years now and have never had drinks, even when i was onsite. but in every party, men raise eyebrows when i decline drinks.they ask...youve been onsite...youre a malayalee..your and engineer.....


this mindset has to change for sure

June 25, 2009 11:46 AM  
Blogger Praveen said...

I also had to face that question on why am not a drinker even after doing my engineering...
It has come to such a point that people take drinking liquor on par with drinking tea..

June 25, 2009 5:08 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Thank you for bringing this problem to light.

Above the drinking of alcohol, we should see the reasons people get addicted. If it is not alcohol, it'd be some other drug of choice (anything can be a drug if not in moderation, hence the world wide obesity epidemic).

Reading your post makes me think that this problem reaches past social drinking, this is why I say this. In this case, we should then see what personal, social or other problems or mental problems lead to drinking becoming an addiction. If these problems can be resolved (which is much more difficult than ridding of the drink), then overindulgence can possibly be reduced.

June 26, 2009 2:07 AM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

Abhi/Static Variable/Praveen
I had so many similar exp. yes it is correct.. In Kerala it is easy to convince people that you don't drink tea than convince them that you don't drink.

Jennifer,
So many families in Kerala suffer due to the overindulgence of people in alcohol.

June 26, 2009 4:38 AM  
Anonymous Lunatickerala said...

Come and see, how the stray dogs are tortured mercilessly and killed, with people cheering happily, in this lunatic asylum. The moral progress of a nation can be measured by the way, its people treat the animals, said Gandhi. How can demons have moral values at all?

Kerala is a big lunatic asylum as declared by Vivekananda, with barefooted mallus walking half naked in lungis, spitting in public, peeing on walls and honking proudly in their small match box cars. Stone age tribals still living in coconut jungles and die falling into pot holes.

By just reading some alphabets does not make one civilized or literate. Their king Mahabali was a demon. A Bihari maybe filthy outside but lunatic mallus are more dangerous, with an arrogant, pervert, hypocrite and filthy mind.

Ente keralam orru pranthalayam. Pot hole's own country. Devil's own country. Drunkard's own country.

June 26, 2009 2:23 PM  
Blogger Nostalgia said...

Interesting and enlightening I should say. Thank you.

June 21, 2010 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Annie Sunil said...

The tendency to become an alchoholic is also genetic in nature, one also has to look at this in this light, there will have to be widespread awareness created among the younger generation on the effects of alcohol abuse, physical, social and physcological.
The Govt of kerala is just not bothered about this problem as this is major source of revenue in kerala. NGOs must come forward to take up projects to create awareness on the ill effects. Flims and talks on this subjects can be shown and undertaken, to save the future generation we have to start work from schools, this will only be a starting. If nothing is done on this Kerala is heading towards serious trouble which can have serious negative social impacts.

March 27, 2012 7:23 AM  
Blogger Annie Sunil said...

The tendency to become an alchoholic is also genetic in nature, one also has to look at this in this light, there will have to be widespread awareness created among the younger generation on the effects of alcohol abuse, physical, social and physcological.
The Govt of kerala is just not bothered about this problem as this is major source of revenue in kerala. NGOs must come forward to take up projects to create awareness on the ill effects. Flims and talks on this subjects can be shown and undertaken, to save the future generation we have to start work from schools, this will only be a starting. If nothing is done on this Kerala is heading towards serious trouble which can have serious negative social impacts.

March 27, 2012 7:27 AM  
Blogger Annie Sunil said...

The tendency to become an alcoholic can also be genetic, it could also be a medical disorder. In this light the younger generation at are great risk and if nothing is done Kerala is heading towards serious trouble. The govt of Kerala is just not bothered on this count as this is a very good source of revenue for them. NGOs must come forward to take up such projects, awareness programmes must be implemented right from school itself, so that young minds are influenced on the ill effects on alcohol abuse.

March 27, 2012 7:35 AM  

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