Caste, Conservative, Colonial, and State Paternalism in India's Alcohol Policies
Alcohol consumption in India is governed by social and moral codes and religious norms, stratified by caste and gender, and controlled by state policies. Indian alcohol policy today consists of measures ranging from high taxation to strict prohibition across different states. Our article examines whether the Western state paternalistic framework is adequate to explain the alcohol policies of India. We conduct a critical reading of texts on socio-cultural and political history of alcohol consumption, taxation, and regulation in India, and study their influence on contemporary alcohol policies of Indian states. A central theme presented in this paper is that India’s complex history, with social institutions of caste, religious conservatism, regional politics and colonialism, has created a unique complex of experiences related to alcohol, and argues for a greater alignment of Western paternalistic frameworks with Indian socio-political context. Broadly, we argue that state paternalism should be understood beyond the national and state politics of the present, and factor in the path-dependency of socio-cultural and political history of the state being examined.
Keywords:Alcohol Policy, Alcohol taxation, Paternalism, Caste Paternalism, Colonial Paternalism
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