Every fourth person who takes alcohol in India ends up having a physical fight once the ambrosial liquid has stirred a symphony in his mouth. Indians love to get drunk is no secret. But how drunk do they like to get?
Apparently, nearly every second Indian who consumes alcohol takes at least four drinks at one occasion. In technical terminology, this behaviour is called 'heavy episodic drinking'. And among Indian alcohol users, 43 per cent fall in this category.
Drinking heavily and then getting into a physical fight: This looks more like a scene from any other Bollywood movie, only that this is also the picture of state of drunkenness in India.
No. These aren't facts based on a click-bait online survey. They were revealed in a report prepared by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment based on a nation-wide study on substance abuse.
But do Indians have any preference among alcoholic beverages?
'Desi sharab' or country liquor along with Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) are the most commonly consumed alcoholic beverage that Indians like to get tipsy over. Nearly every third alcohol user in India consumes either of them.
In case there is an imaginative bartender in your mind's eye, there is bad news. The rich collection of sparkling wine bottles has hardly any takers in India. Only four per cent of Indian alcohol users commonly consume wine. When it comes to beer, the figure is 21 per cent (12 per cent for strong beer and 9 per cent for light beer).
Thus, analysing the drinking pattern of Indians, so far we find that a significant section among alcohol users in India are heavy drinkers who like to consume beverages with high alcohol concentration.
Overall, 14.60 per cent of Indian population between the age of 10 and 75 years consumes alcohol. In absolute figures, this would be about 16 crore people, and they are evenly distributed across socio-economic classes.
Of these 16 crores, about 95 per cent are male, falling in the age group of 18-49 years.
A sex-wise breakdown of these numbers shows alcohol use in India is not an exclusively male phenomenon. But, though women do take alcohol, its prevalence is considerably low in comparison to men: for every one woman who consumes alcohol, there are 17 alcohol using men in India.
In terms of prevalence, the report shows 27.30 per cent men and 1.60 per cent women use alcohol.
Another differentiating factor between men and women is that women have a far greater control over their drinking habits than men. The report shows that every fifth alcohol using man suffers from alcohol dependence as opposed to every 16th woman suffering from the same.
What is also clear from the data in the report is that use of alcohol is prevalent in all states of India, including states like Gujarat and Bihar that have enforced prohibition.
There are 10 states where more than 20 per cent population consumes alcohol, with Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Punjab, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa leading the tally.
If we exclude Bihar and Gujarat (states that have imposed prohibition), we find that Rajasthan and Meghalaya have the least prevalence of alcohol use2.1 and 3.4 per cent respectively.
The report also reveals that 62 per cent men in Tripura consume alcohol (the highest in-country), followed closely by Chhattisgarh (57.2 per cent) and Punjab (51.70 per cent).
In total, there are 15 states and UTs where more than 30 per cent men consume alcohol.
Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh stand out because they have the largest prevalence of alcohol among women15.60 and 13.70 per cent, respectively.
An average alcohol-consuming Indian can be characterised as a man aged 18-49 years, taking four drinks of 'desi daru' with a good chance of getting into a physical fight once his tryst with the ambrosial drink is over. And yes, every fifth such person would be doing this during daytime.