India's alcohol production increasing

India is one of the largest producers of alcohol in the world and there has been a steady increase in its production over the last 15 years, according to fresh statistics.

India is a dominant producer of alcohol in the South-East Asian region with 65 per cent of the total share and contributes to around seven per cent of the total alcohol beverage imports into the region.

More than two-thirds of the total beverage alcohol consumption within the region is in India, according to figures in the newly compiled Alcohol Atlas of India.

There has been a steady increase in the production of alcohol in the country, with the production doubling from 887.2 million litres in 1992-93 to 1,654 million litres in 1999-2000 and was expected to treble to 2300 million litres by 2007-08.

The prevalence of alcohol use is still low in India as per some studies done across the country. The consumption is two litres per person per year.

However, though the overall consumption is low, patterns of alcohol consumption vary throughout the country. Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Northeastern states have much higher proportion of alcohol consumption in the country.

Women tend to drink more in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim in the North East and Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh in the rest of the country.

The statistics show an extreme gender difference in patterns of consumption of alcohol.

Prevalence among women has consistently been estimated at less than five per cent but is much higher in the northeastern states.

Significantly higher use has been recorded among tribal, rural and lower socio-economic urban sections. The unrecorded consumption and expenditure on alcohol still remains high in India as in other South East Asian countries such as Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

A substantial portion of family income is spent on alcohol, more so in rural households, which also tend to be poor and marginalised (32 per cent urban and 24 per cent rural).

The statistics also show that alcoholism increases suicidal tendencies, incidents of domestic violence and affects the ability of a person to concentrate at work.

A study conducted by the NIMHANS, Bangalore and sponsored by the World Health Organisation shows that 20 per cent of women reported domestic violence and 94.5 per cent of women identified their husband's alcohol consumption as a significant risk factor in incidents of domestic violence.

The study shows that people indulging in alcohol use are much more likely to skip work and college as well as indulge in gambling and lottery.

While non-users of alcohol missed going to college or work 13.8 per cent of the time, users skipped work and college 33 per cent of the time.

It also found that alcohol and crime are closely related.