The legal drinking age across the country varies from state to state, while it is banned in Bihar, Gujarat, Lakshadweep and Nagaland, and partial bans in Manipur. “Dry days” occur a few times a year across the country (without exception) when the sale of alcohol is prohibited. These days include India’s Republic Day, Independence Day, Gandhi Jayanti, and voting days.
The alcohol market in the country comprises of Indian-made Indian liquor (IMIL), Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), wine, beer and imported alcohol. Heavy import duties and taxes make the latter a miniscule player in the country’s alcohol market; beer and wine make up eight and less than one percent of the share respectively. Whiskey accounted for the highest sales volume in spirits, followed by brandy and rum in 2016. Drinking alcohol is primarily a social activity and the shops and restaurants that allow open consumption are present mainly in the tier I and tier II cities.
The high alcohol consumption and revenue among Indians does not come without social and economic consequences, despite winning out conservative values and generational changes. The taboo around the subject probably makes getting exact numbers difficult. Many fall sick or lose their lives every year because of sub-standard, poisonous black-market purchases of the beverage in regions with legal restrictions. Official reports show that alcohol-related mortality is higher in men than women.
Regardless of these figures that show deeper problems between the industry and lawmakers, alcohol consumption in India is only expected to grow steadily.