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Alcohol in India at a new high

Production to reach 2,300 million litres

New Delhi: India is one of the largest producers of alcohol in the world and there has been a steady increase in its production over the last 15 years, according to new statistics.

India is a dominant producer of alcohol in South-East Asia, with 65 per cent of the total share, and contributes to around 7 per cent of the total alcohol beverage imports into the region.

More than two-thirds of the total beverage alcohol consumption in the region is in India, according to figures in the newly-compiled Alcohol Atlas of India.

There has been a steady increase in production in the country. Production doubled from 887.2 million litres in 1992-93 to 1,654 million litres in 1999-2000. It was expected to treble to 2,300 million litres by 2007-08.

Varying patterns

The prevalence of alcohol use is still low in India according to some studies done across the country. The consumption is 2 litres per person a year. However, patterns of consumption vary. Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and the northeastern States have a much higher proportion of alcohol consumption.

Women tend to drink more in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, the northeast, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh than their counterparts in the rest of the country.

Gender difference

The statistics show an extreme gender difference in consumption patterns. Prevalence among women has consistently been estimated at less than 5 per cent but is much higher in the northeastern States.

Significantly higher use has been recorded among tribal, rural and lower socio-economic urban sections. A substantial portion of family income is spent on alcohol, more so in rural households, which also tend to be poor and marginalised (32 per cent urban and 24 per cent rural).

The statistics show that alcoholism increases suicidal tendencies, incidents of domestic violence and affects the ability of a person to concentrate at work.

A study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore and sponsored by the World Health Organisation shows that 20 per cent of women reported domestic violence and 94.5 per cent of women identified their husband’s alcohol consumption as a risk factor in incidents of domestic violence. — PTI

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