Background


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            In Hindu culture, alcohol is often described as Soma Ras. In the epic of Ramayana and Mahabharata, there are mentions of drinking alcohol by god and goddesses as a recreational food. In ancient and medieval Nepal, the Kirats, Shakya,, Lichhavis, etc. had already made a trade relationship with Tibet, India, and China from where drinking culture probably entered Nepal. The Lele inscription of Shivadev and Amshuverma  dated 526 AD mentioned alcohol as Paniyagosthi. In the inscription of Jayalambha dated 413AD, the word Karanapuja is used referring to the alcohol; the inscription was found near Pashupatinath Temple.The Christian Father Ippolito Desideri, who travelled Nepal about 1720, had a written account of pungent-smelling liquor made from millet. He also mentions arac, a drink made from wheat or rice.

            In modern Nepal, the Maluki Aain of 1854 categorically classified Nepalese society into five categories. One of them was the Tagadhari who were not allowed to drink, while the remaining four were allowed to drink. In the modern constitution, however, there is no such distinction and everyone is equally allowed to use alcohol-based on their personal preference.

Alcohol (Raksi or Madira) is not illegal in Nepal. The mixed society, coupled with caste and multiple ethnic results in extremely complex social behaviour. Based on the caste and religion, there are two types of people in Nepal depending upon alcohol uses. The group of people who do not drink or use alcohol are called Tagadhari  (Janai Wearer), and the other group who drink alcohol are called Matawali. Generally, the Brahmins and Kshatriyas are the Janai wearer and do not drink alcohol, but with the exception of Matwali Chhetries of Karnali who are permitted to use alcohol. Matwali uses alcohol for their traditional purposes and generally brew alcohol by themselves. People such as Rai people, Gurung, Tamang, Newars use alcohol freely. Traditionally, in the group of Matwali, males are allowed to drink freely while women are somewhat restricted to use alcohol.

            It is saying that wherever Daru(Alcohol) goes, Tharu follows its footsteps. The gurus (Gurwas, traditional healer) Tharus kept in their homes as tutors etched this as a universal truth in their hearts. They advised, “Reading and writing is not your forte, do what your heart tells.” And you know Tharus treat their elders as their Gods. So, how can they disobey the teachings? Thus, began Tharus’ love affair with Daru((Alcohol). To make the matter worse, the civil code Muluki Ain attested that Tharus are drinkers. It categorized them as Masinya Matwali (salvable alcohol drinkers). As if Tharus at that time were not humans and were mere bodies of flesh and bones. So, the once landlords and kings of Terai started considering themselves as slaves and drinkers. This not only lowered their morale, it depressed them and accelerated the consumption of Daru. Tharus at that time ran after the crow without checking whether their ears were intact.  Jung Bahadur Rana had placed them in such category this day, Tharus would have shut down the Terai, marched to Kathmandu and submerges the Singha Durbar.

            Flashback: Now let me take you to the ancient times. Tharus brewed Daru in their homes and drank during festivals and special occasions. These days every day is special. Haven’t you heard? Some wise person rightly said, “Treat each day as if it were your last.” If every day needs to be treated as arm aged don, then why not drink Daru? And yes, if you buy from others, you propel the local economy. Thinking this, Tharus stopped brewing at their homes, instead started thinking big  spending their forefathers’ hard-earned money  to make others rich and alleviate poverty of the migrant settlers (hill dwellers who flocked to Terai after the malaria eradication).

            Now zoom back to the present times. The unemployment is rampant in the country and in case of Tharus it’s more serious. Neither they have enough qualification (though some are at par with their so-called high caste friends), nor they have somebody up in the echelon to pull the strings. They just remain puppets in the hands of central administration run by some so-called superiors. And to remain true to their forefathers who advised to be happy all the time, they drink Daru. At least the grief flies away till the stupor prevails.

            To add to the woes (let me call it happiness), the multinationals (and nationals) have launched so many brands in Nepal that even if you go on drinking a different brand every day, you won’t be able to guzzle all. With so many choices beer, whiskey, vodka, gin, brandy, wine, champagne, jand (local rice beer), khoya birke (local whiskey) and the list goes on.  Tharus are enthralled. In earlier days, they used to hang a clay pot to a palm tree and collect tari (palm wine). They chopped down the trees, converted the plots into arable land, and gifted it to their friends from hills   as a token of true friendship. Some sold their land at the price of a cowry shell, some exchanged it for a glass of alcohol and some surrendered to the admonition and threats. Now they are more than happy. They don’t need to drink the crude alcohol any more. Thanks god, they have international brands within arm’s reach.

            Another brick in the wall is lack of decent education. While their Madhesi (people living in plains in Terai/Madhes) and Pahadi (people living in hills) colleagues are busy studying, they are busy playing and loitering around. And as you know, you need fuel to toss a football. The fuel is none other than the favorite Daru. After their neighbors complete their Masters, they join high paying jobs and start earning. If you observe the case of Tharus, they are bright as halogen lamps in the school but end up into flickering candles by the time they join college. With no degrees in hand they end up tilling land, laboring for daily wages and even working for their once-friends. To lessen the jealousy, they drink Daru.

            The other reason is the lax rule of law. The police are hand in glove with the bhattiwallahs and bhattiwalis (the bar owners). While they pay bribes, serve food and beverage to the rule-keepers, they fleece the customers to earn profit. And who else is more fleece-able than a Tharu? Of course, the feel like a prince when they are drunk. Tharus start considering themselves as kings after few sips. Tharus start paying for the drunkards at the surrounding tables, if they praise them. The jamindari (system of keeping huge plots of land) of the many years floods back to them and even though they have only few katthas (1 Kattha = 338.57 square metres) of land remaining. As a Tharu pays for the Daru, he again visits the bhatti (bar) next day thinking that others (who drank Daru paid by him) would pay for him. But he again ends up paying for others. The cycle continues and he gets entangled in the vicious circle and Daru becomes the only savior till insolvency.

Problem and need of the scientific Study

            There is a wide range of negative effects associated with consumption of alcohol. Individuals who   consume alcohol are more likely to experience a wide range of effects, among which include problems like: unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity ; social problems; physical and sexual assault; physical problems; problems at school; legal problems; disruption of normal growth and sexual development; higher risk for suicide and homicide; alcohol-related car crashes and other unintended injuries; memory problems; drug abuse; changes in brain development; and death from alcohol poisoning. Individuals are in most cases likely to be involved in risky behaviours after consuming alcohol and thus putting their lives in danger, as well as threatening the safety of the general population in the neighborhood at large.

            In the recent past, a lot has been written and spoken on how Tharu people (men, women and the youth) in Dang have consumed alcohol excessively, leading to the decline in their socio- economic well-being and to increased poverty levels in the country. Alcoholism is one of the major problems in society; the effects of this disease are serious leading to deaths, visual and physical impairment among other things. Alcoholism causes cancer in the stomach, kidneys, and liver. Besides, alcohol alters the digestion of nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy.

            Alcoholism also causes severe damage to the neurons, so it causes alterations in the body movements, loss of appetite, and depression. There are other effects in the body like gastritis and cirrhosis of the liver. All these physical consequences could cause death if one consumes alcohol in mass quantities. Besides, many people get used to drinking alcohol and they can easily abuse which compounds the problem. Alcoholism affects family harmony leading to break-ups in extreme. Thus, the necessity for education on the impacts of the vice on the community welfare especially on the family unit is undisputable. Therefore, the adverse effects of alcoholism have motivated this study whose main purpose is to establish the social and economic effects of alcoholism.

            This project was prompted by: the continued alcohol abuse, the subsequent numerous  family break-ups, alcohol-related diseases and the resultant deaths and; the desire by a sociologist to empower people against alcoholism by providing relevant information on the impacts of the vice on societal welfare.

Impact of Alcoholism

  1. a) Impact of Alcoholism on the Family Unit

            The impact of alcohol problems on families can reach into every area of life such as physical and psychological health, finances, employment, social life and relationships. Problematic alcohol use can have a particular impact on the family, its structures and functions.

There were seven key aspects of family life that could be adversely affected roles, rituals, routines, social life, finances, communication and conflict. Further, where victims relapse more than once, the cost of rehabilitation has left wealthy and influential families on the verge of financial ruin and in some cases led to divorce and/or suicide. A parent’s alcohol misuse can dominate family relationships, affecting children both physically and emotionally. The impact will depend on the severity of the parent’s problems and any protective factors being in place, but can affect a child right from pre-birth to adulthood. Drinking during pregnancy can cause premature birth, low birth weight, damage to the central nervous system and physical abnormalities.

  1. b) Alcoholism and the Health of the Consumers

            For some people, alcohol is a regular or occasional drink enjoyed at social occasions that causes no apparent harm. However, even moderate alcohol use carries some risks, as alcohol causes breast cancer even at low doses, can damage the developing fetus before a woman even knows she is pregnant and can lead to addiction and dependence in any individual. When drunk regularly over time and drunk in a pattern of heavy single drinking sessions, alcohol can cause a variety of health conditions. These include cancers and other conditions such as alcoholic liver disease, which can range from reversible to permanent liver damage due to alcohol. The risks of alcohol-related cancers and other health conditions caused by alcohol are greatest in those who are dependent on alcohol or drink heavily, and the risks increase with the average amount of alcohol drunk.

Some suggestion

The following interventions can be applied to reduce cases of alcohol abuse. They include: increasing the   prices of alcohol, restricting the density of alcohol outlets in an area, controlling of alcohol advertising and promotion, and better communication and education about alcohol to help change attitudes and consequently behavior.

  1. a) Increasing Alcohol Prices

            Alcohol prices have not kept pace with inflation, and thus, the real price of alcohol has been dropping steadily. Many different studies have found that higher alcohol prices lead to lower consumption and fewer alcohol-related problems. Higher prices tend to have a particularly strong effect on people. One common argument made against increases in alcohol prices is that such price increases would penalize the majority of responsible drinkers.

  1. b) Restricting Alcohol Outlets

            Restricting the density of alcohol outlets is one way of decreasing consumption and related problems (Parker, 1998). Several studies have demonstrated the connection between the density of alcohol outlets in a community and the rates of violence, particularly among youth. Alcohol outlets can be restricted through limiting the number or density of outlets or through limiting the types of wards where alcohol may be sold. For example, many communities have imposed limits on sales or consumption of alcohol in public places (such as parks and beaches), at public events (such as fairs and festivals), or at certain kinds of retail wards (such as gas stations).

  1. c) Controlling Alcohol Advertising and Promotion

            Studies on the effects of advertising on adults do not show a strong connection between exposure to advertising and overall consumption (WHO, 2004). However, survey studies on Alcohol advertising and young people consistently indicate that children and adolescents, who are exposed to alcohol advertisements have more favorable attitudes toward drinking, are more likely to be underage drinkers, and intend to drink more when they are adults. Nearly everyone is exposed to hundreds or even thousands of alcohol advertisements each year.

  1. d) Better Education and Communication

            The strategy includes a series of measures aimed at achieving a long term change in attitudes to irresponsible drinking and behavior, including making the “sensible drinking” message easier to understand and apply, targeting messages at those most at risk, including binge and chronic drinkers; providing better information for consumers, both on products and at the point of sale; (WHO, 2002)providing alcohol education in schools that can change attitudes and behavior; providing more support and advice for employers; and reviewing the code of practice for TV advertising to ensure that it does not target young drinkers or glamorize irresponsible behavior. Individuals make choices about how much and how often they drink. Individuals are responsible for these choices, but they both influence and are driven by their peers and the wider culture of society. Accurate information is needed if individuals are to make informed choices about alcohol. In particular, young people need to receive adequate education on the issues. Anyone who drinks alcohol needs to understand how sensible drinking guidelines apply to the kind of drinks they consume; and those who maybe experiencing problems, along with their families and friends, need to know where to get help and advice. But information is only one factor influencing behavior. The availability of alcohol, its role in our culture and the drinking behavior by some groups in our society particularly young people all affect attitudes, which in turn shape and are shaped by culture. If individuals are to make responsible choices it is just as important to consider how to create social environments which discourage attitudes and behaviors which lead to the risk of harm.

  1. e) Working with the Alcohol Industry

            This strategy can build on the good practice of some existing initiatives and involve the alcohol industry in new initiatives at both national level (drinks producers) and at local level (retailers, pubs and clubs). At national level, a social responsibility charter for drinks producers, can strongly encourage drinks companies to: pledge not to manufacture products irresponsibly – for example, no products that appeal to under-age drinkers or that encourage people to drink well over recommended limits; ensure that advertising does not promote or condone irresponsible or excessive drinking; put the sensible drinking message clearly on bottles alongside information about unit content; (WHO, 2002) move to packaging products in safer materials – for example, alternatives to glass bottles; and make a financial contribution to a fund that pays for new schemes to address alcohol misuse at national and local levels, such as providing information and alternative facilities for young people.

  1. f) Governance Responsibility

            All institutional stakeholders both at the National and local levels should take responsibility so that irresponsible alcohol consumption is curbed. Chiefs and police at local levels should desist from receiving bribes at the expense of people’s lives. Religious leaders should also be involved in the fight against killer brews as these accesses and have a high level of influence in the villages.

 REFERENCES

 The Muluki Civil Code , 2017 of Nepal

 The Muluki Criminal Code 2017 of Nepal

 Dryden-Edwards, R., Stöppler, M.C. (2012).Alcohol

  Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved April  20, 2012, http://www.medicinenet.com/alcohol_abuse_and_alcoholism/ page3.htm

  Gachire, M. (2011). Mututho Law: The Alcohol Drinks Control Bill. Kenya Institute of Administration paper,

  Karugu, M., (2012) The effects of alcoholism in society.   Unpublished M.A Project Paper, University of Nairobi.

  NACADA (2011).Alcohol Use in Central Province of Kenya. A Baseline Survey on Magnitude, Causes and Effects from the perspective of Community Members and Individual Users. Policy Brief, No 4/2011

  WHO. (2004a). WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol 2004. Part I: Consequences of Alcohol Use: Social Problems Associated With Alcohol Use. Geneva: Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Pg 59 – 64

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