Sharp increase in liquor consumption in Kerala, triggered by domestic migrant labour?

May 26, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

With the decision of the state government to withhold licenses of 418 bars in Kerala, the debate regarding liquor consumption and its impact on different sections of the population has been receiving much attention.

Eventhough up to date data is not available on the total liquor consumption in the state, timely data  is readily available with regard to consumption of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) sold through the 338 retail outlets of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco). Since Bevco is a monopoly PSU engaged in sale of IMFL through out the state and since it is the major category of liquor sold in the state (with arrack being banned in the state) consumption of IMFL can be treated as synonymous with consumption of liquor in the state. More than 90 percent of liquor sold in Kerala is IMFL (with the rest contributed by beer and toddy).

According to statistics available with Bevco, sale of IMFL was to the tune of 82 lakh cases 2003-04. But in the next decade (2003-04 to 212-13) sale increased to 138 lakh cases, thereby showing an increase of 59 percent across the last decade. This shows that there has been a sharp increase in consumption of IMFL across the above period.

And this statistics has been quoted to shows that ;liquor consumption has been growing at a faster pace in Kerala. But information shows that this increase in consumption of IMFL could be triggered by increase in consumption of IMFL by the Domestic Migrant Labour (DML) in Kerala. The inward migration of DML had increased at a faster pace during the last decade. According to a study conducted on the Domestic Migrant Labour in Kerala in 2013 by the Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation (GIFT) in Kerala, the stock of DML in Kerala has been assessed to be over 25 lakahs. The study had also found that the annual remittances of DML has been to the tune of Rs. 14000 crores/year. It has also been found that DML all are male and 754 percent of the age group belong to the category of 18-29 years.

DML has been a major presence in the long queue present before all the Bevco retail outlets across almost all districts of Kerala. If it is assumed that they are consuming liquor habitually  it can be safely assumed that a major share of their earning are being spent on consuming liquor. And, since it has been found that 75 percent of the DML belong to the age group of 18-29 years liquour consumption among this category could be very high.


Author:KM Shajahan

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