Valley sociologists say that the rising figures are only restricted to few sections of society.
BISMAH MALIK SRINAGAR, May 26: The liquor consumption in Jammu and Kashmir has increased this year manifold than previous many years, according to the figures with the State Excise department. Consequently because of the higher consumption, the annual revenue generation from liquor sale has also increased in the state.
This holds true for both the capital cities, Jammu and Srinagar. State excise department data manifests that in Jammu province alone; the revenue collection from liquor sale has increased to Rs 263.33crore in 2009-2010 from Rs 221.34 crore in 2008-2009, which indicates a Rs 41.98 crore increase in revenue.
For Kashmir province, a total increase of Rs 5.00 crore revenue has been recorded. From Rs 24.15 crore in 2008-2009, the revenue collection has increased to Rs 29.15 crore.
And among various types of liquor, the sale of Beer, in particular has risen considerably high. Excise Department reveals, in Jammu and Kashmir a 30 per cent increase in sale of Beer bottles has been observed. In 2009-2010, at least 120.75 lakh beer bottles were sold, whereas in 2008-2009, 90.08 lakh bottles were sold.
Surprisingly, in Kashmir province, the rate of beer sale is even higher, to the rune of 50 per cent. Of 15.33 lakh bottles of liquor which were sold in 2009-2010, 7.62 lakh bottle beer bottles were sold. This is very much higher than a total of 11.48 lakh liquor bottles and 5.22 lakh beer bottles which were sold in 2008-2009.
In Jammu, the beer consumption has gone up from 70.99 lakh bottles in 2008-09 to 99.61 lakh in 2009-10.
A marked increase in the liquor sale and consumption in Kashmir province particularly, might sound alarming to the general public, especially when drinking is deemed as a social taboo in the valley.
“An increase in the liquor consumption in the valley is quite apparent with more and more liquor shops being run in different parts of the valley. Even with the social and religious sentiments which condemn drinking practices, there has been a visible increase in such acts”, observed Dr. Shameem Khan, a religious scholar.
Though the public in general might consider an abrupt increase in liquor consumption in the valley, as an indication of western culture influence especially on youngsters, the sociologists have a different take on this.
An eminent sociologist, Prof. Bashir Ahmad Dabla viewed that even if these figures reveal a considerable increase in the liquor consumption in the valley, that should not be seen as a general trend catching up in valley.
Prof. Dabla observed, “We have to be extremely careful while interpreting these figures. Even now, our society is extremely rigid to drinking and such activities. However, there are various sections of the society, which are not as opposed to consuming liquor, as the society here in general. A generalization of these figures and relating them with Kashmiri society as a whole would be inappropriate and illogical”.
Even though, the interpretation of these figures and their relationship with the general society is seemingly debatable, however a common consensus of such trends having a virtual impact cannot also be denied,
Prof. Dabla commented, “There may be distinct groups, who are used to consuming alcohol in our society. With increase in their intensity, the general figures can also raise. But since, a society is a well knitted unit, the influence of such practices as consuming liquor on other vulnerable sections cannot also not be ruled out”.