Saturday, 4 January 2014

Youth and Liquor

The youth have taken to drinking like fish to water!! You can see it all around you, with so many youngsters drunk on the streets.  I often wondered why the governments aren't educating these youngsters not to drink at such an early age. A little bit of digging on the subject showed me startling results.

Liquor is contributing 15-20000 crores of many of the states revenues. considering that the total revenue of my state is about 80,000 crores, this means that revenue from liquor is about 25% of the total revenue. Now, that is a big number.  This naturally puts us in a  dilemna especially when we know that the state is already in a deficit.

If there are dedicated movements to educate the youngsters and curb their drinking, the overall revenues will fall further increasing the deficit. This will naturally lead to a cut in various government welfare schemes and subsidies to the poor.  

On the other hand, If we promote liquor sales - We all are aware of its social problems i.e eve teasing, rash driving, rape, murders, wife beating etc without even mentioning the ill effects on the medical health of the individual.  Couple this with the free availability of porn on the internet and the unabashed depiction of women in bollywood (and other regional) movies, we have the recipe for a social disaster, the signs of which are already omni present.

So, it may be time to think if the sale of liquor can be brought down and simultaneously prune down certain welfare schemes also to balance the deficit.

Though pruning down welfare schemes may be easier said than done, that may be the right way forward and could be hastened by educating the people especially the youngsters. After all, they are paying for atleast part of their own welfare scheme!!! (An individual drinking everyday contributes about 50 rs by way of taxes. multiply that by 30 days we have 1500 rupees. so he is partly paying for his own subsidy.  In addition the people who don't qualify for subsidies for their own self contribute their share to  other's subsidy).  Effectively, people are paying themselves for most of the subsidies and quite obviously so, because the government has no other sources of income than the taxes  paid by the people (apart from profits from few govt companies).  If people continue to expect welfare schemes and subsidies, govt's have to fall back on revenue generating schemes.

I am aware that there can be no quick fix solution to this and a holistic solution encompassing all the issues needs to be worked out by someone in the Government who has the power and ability to do so. To facilitate that, we must begin by stopping to look for freebies from the Govt and be prepared to pay a  bit more on the other fronts ( for example - to offset the revenue loss from liquor an increase in other taxes may be planned. I am not getting into the 'stop corruption and save govt money' rhetoric here as that would be a never ending discussion)  Maybe paying a higher % of other taxes may help secure the future of our next generation by saving their exposure to liqour at an early age.

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