The Kerala assembly elections results are out today and the
people have voted the Communist party of India(M) back in power with a thumping
majority. What does this mean to the current state wide prohibition on alcohol and
its effects on tourism industry? The question is, has the ban worked or not? And
does it really matter!

Kerala for decades has seen a revolving door style of
politics, with congress and the CPI taking turns to rule the state. Kerala is
the only state in India that has the Hindus, Christians and the Muslims each representing
one third of its population. In this true festival of democracy where the swing
of one to two percent of votes win you an election like in the case of
Kasaragod where the CPIM won with just 85 votes!. These small margins and high literacy
rate amongst its folks means local issues take center stage in Kerala politics.  The issues’  of a common man in Kerala are however very
different to that of people from the rest of India. With zero to no poverty in
the state, Kerala has the highest per ca-pita income in India.  This is mainly because of the good work done
by the communist and their focus on increasing local government aided employment
opportunities. The down side of that, like in the classic case of the Kerala State
Road Transport Corporation (Ksrtc) is that for every bus there are fourteen
employees!!  No wonder that institution
is neck deep in debt. Even the unskilled laborer in this state demands a hefty
daily wage of rupees six hundred per day ( $10) !!! The focus is not on the institutions
and its profits but its pupils and their welfare. Which is a great thing, but
it meant that in due time the people of Kerala have had less work and more time
on their hands. With high wages and a lot of free time, alcoholism soon
became a genuine problem amongst the malayalies.

Being a local I have mixed feeling about prohibition.  Let’s take the case of Kannan, my paper man
and neighbor. Before the prohibition he was a good man with a very bad drinking
problem. The prohibition has changed his life and now he is a transformed man . There is simply little to no hard
liquor for him to drink.  I specify hard
liquor because beer and wine is freely available at bars but just not hard
liquor like whiskey and vodka. So in other words the partial prohibition has definitely helped improve
the lives of thousands of such people at the bottom of the food chain. The
brunt of this ban was however felt by the tourism industry as Kerala became the
Gods own dry county.  The image of a dry
state meant that tourist flocked to other destinations like Sri Lanka and Goa
to have a good time. So hopefully things will change for the better with the
new communist lead government.  They promise to
lift the partial ban, but plan to bring in stricter regulation.  Progressive policies like restricting the
drinking age to twenty three is I believe a step in the right direction.  Only time will tell how these new policies will
play out in the real world, but it sure looks like Kerala is getting some early
monsoons. It’s soon going to be raining whiskey and brandy. The king of good
times might have fled the country but surely the good times are back in the
Gods own country.