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Addressing the dilemma of India’s state dependency on Alcohol: ‘New-Soft’ Paternalism approach


  • Jolad, Shivakumar
  • Ravi, Chaitanya


Indian states have alcohol policies ranging from strict prohibition to high taxation and overregulation. A pernicious effect of prohibition, in particular, has been the clogging of judiciary, disproportionate impacts on the poor and marginalized and diversion of already limited state capacities. In this article, we examine the role of state policy in India in addressing alcoholism’s deleterious impacts such as economic hardships, domestic violence and high disease burden. We have traced the current policy ambivalence to India’s history with attitudes ranging from permissiveness, colonial-era commodification to prohibition. We argue that India’s current alcohol policy can be understood as a combination of ‘old’ paternalism built on moral-religious ideas and ‘hard’ paternalism where the state interference overrides conscious choice of individual agent. We propose a ‘new-soft,’ post colonial framework which strikes a balance between individual choice, public health, gender parity and state revenues while eschewing disproportionate prosecution and punishment.

Suggested Citation

  • Jolad, Shivakumar & Ravi, Chaitanya, 2021. "Addressing the dilemma of India’s state dependency on Alcohol: ‘New-Soft’ Paternalism approach," SocArXiv 7pnh5, Center for Open Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:osf:socarx:7pnh5
    DOI: 10.31219/

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. New, Bill, 1999. "Paternalism and Public Policy," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 63-83, April.
    2. Santosh Kumar, 2016. "Price Elasticity of Alcohol Demand in India," Working Papers 1610, Sam Houston State University, Department of Economics and International Business.
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