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Efforts Underway to Fight Alcoholism Among Tribals

month on it. But for a person addicted to foreign liquor, his bills touch up to Rs.3,000-3,500 a month," said Benedict Damor, secretary of the samiti. Even poor families spend huge amounts - to the tune of Rs.25,000-30,000 on alcohol alone during marriages.

The alcohol industry is the only flourishing business in this district. In 2007, the contract for the sale of liquor in Jhabua district was auctioned at Rs.100 million.

For Jhabua, where 47 percent of the population is below the poverty line and 85 percent is tribal, this is a huge sum. The officials in the excise department say the turnover from the sale would be anywhere between three to four times this amount. Besides, toddy and desi liquor (almost like a cottage industry) are available freely and cheaply.

However, Benedict Damor, who campaigned extensively against alcoholism, feels that prohibition is not a solution to this problem.

"Alcohol is an integral part of tribal culture. But consuming alcohol as part of rituals or festivities is different from alcoholism. Alcoholism is linked to illiteracy, impoverishment and many other factors. But there should be a concerted effort from within the community to do away with such evils and to return to our roots," he said.



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