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Cheers To Healthful Drinks

‘Cheers’, or chinking glasses filled with alcohol, symbolises togetherness and festivity. It is perceived that drinks help people unwind and bring the happy hour: What few people know is that this is not by stimulating the brain but by suppres sing its inhibitory controls.

Consumption of alcohol has zoomed to explosive levels in India. According to NFHS-5 nearly one in five men above the age of 15 drink alcohol, reaching to one in two men in states like Arunachal Pradesh. Rural India surprisingly marches ahead of urban India. And drinking often comes at a price One modelling study shows that alcohol attributable deaths between 2011-50 would lead to a loss of 258 million life years and 1.45% of the GDP per year.

Alcohol is classified as a group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It causes about 45% of all liver cancers in Europe today A woman taking a drink and half every day raises the risk of breast cancer nearly one and a half times. People imbibing four drinks a day run threefold higher risk of oral and food pipe cancers Alcohol is becoming the number one cause of cirrhosis in India. It is a strong prenatal risk factor for child development. It is associated with poorer sleep quality and increases the risk of diabetes development.

Most people want to know the safe limits of alcohol consumption. Unfort unately there are none. The recent Lancet Study on Global Disease Burden prescribes zero or very close to zero level of alcohol consumption for minimal health loss. Taking estimated deaths due to alcohol associated liver disease to be 8,367, we have estimated that the cost of treating all AALD patients to the government in 2017 (Rs 55.2 billion) was much more than the revenue generated in that year (Rs 43.1 billion) by sales of alcohol.

Regulatory public health policies for alcohol are needed at all levels. For example, a simple increase in the distance to the liquor shop can make a difference. Meanwhile, a small survey conducted at our workplace revealed that more than 40% of the people coming in with AALD were not aware that alcohol can cause so much damage to their liver They continued to drink their health, despite developing jaundice.

Indians need a new perspective drink to health Water, tea and beer are the most heavily consumed drinks in the world. Let us make water, milk and juices the top three choices instead. But neither milk nor juices give the ‘kick’ or euphoria that alcohol gives. Yaqona, kokum and kom bucha are natural, non-alcoholic drinks that are great for social relaxa tion. There are many more unsung drinks that can be good alternatives to alcohol. The younger society is gradually waking up to them. Hopefully, India, the land of ayurveda, can lead the change in the world Drink to health.

It Is A Matter Of Privacy

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s com ment “Joh plyega woh marega” (those who drink will die) is a chro nicle of many deaths foretold. He knows well that people will not stop drinking for fear of prohibition laws or because of the deaths. He also knows that it is impossible to make hooch stills disappear, especially when prohibition is in place. Bihar might as well start prepa ring for the next hooch tragedy from now Both Bihar and Gujarat continue to play the paternalistic big daddy claiming a moral high ground even though the his tory of prohibition, both in India and abroad, is a long list of failures. It all starts with noble intentions only to find these paving the road to hell.

In hooch tragedi es, it is always the poor who take the hit. You will never hear of a rich businessman dying after having hooch because prohibition never stops supply of quality liquor to the influential. It is well-known that some top businessmen in Gujarat have bars in the cellars of their homes lined wall to wall with bottles of the most expensive whiskies in the world. They will never have to play the hooch Russian roulette.

The landmark Supreme Court verdict on privacy also speaks to administrators getting a high from prohibition “Privacy safeguards individual autonomy and recognises the ability of the individual to control vital aspects of his or her life. Personal choices governing a way of life is intrinsic to privacy . One can argue that drinking is a way of life and that the individual should decide without state interference how much control he wants to give liquor over his life.

A lasting legacy of prohibition in the US is the oxymoron, prohibition eracocktails. There is even one called the Corpse Reviver These cocktails made badly brewed liquor palatable by mixing it with lime, sugar and mild liqueurs This writer grew up in prohibition-cont rolled Ahmedabad drinking cheap, often adulterated whisky, the sole liquor boot leggers peddled in the 1900s. The only way to gulp it down was to dilute it with loads of soda and ice. It was only while reading a book on cocktails that one realised whisky with soda is a prohibition era cocktail, Whisky Highball So, Gujaratis have been drinking a fancy cocktail all their lives without realising it

Paradoxically, while most states in India don’t allow home delivery of liquor, many bootleggers in Gujarat deliver your favourite tipple to your doorstep because it is safe to do so, both for you and the bootlegger. During festive seasons, like Diwali and New Year, some of them will cater to you only if you give a bulk order and they will camouflage it by wrapping the box in red ribbons, like a Christmas present.

SC’s privacy judgment also said “The best decisions on how life should be lived are entrusted to the individual .The duty of the state is to safeguard the ability to take decisions the autonomy of the individual and not to dictate those decisions.”

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