Sunday 26 May 2024

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Issues | Liquor

Promote liquor, no problem !


Liquor is so energetic that it can compel even the government to change its policy of non-promotion. Goa government is a live example of it.

Within two months after clamping down authoritatively on all kind of liquor promotion in the state, of course due to high court directives, the same state excise department has now issued a special notification, giving free licence for liquor promotion.

What it means, perhaps, is that liquor promotion is not bad in spirit, but one cannot do it illegally, once the judicial authorities intervene.

"Is there any harm if liquor bottles and logos are displayed on hoardings or newspapers ? In what way is it different from displaying it in the shops", asks J B Singh, the state excise commissioner, who had razed down all the liquor hoardings two months ago.

Based on a petition filed by Dr Claude Alvares, a leading environmentalist heading Goa Foundation, the high court had directed the authorities to strictly implement section 10 A of the Goa Excise Duty Act, 1964, which was not implemented for over three decades now.

The act "prohibits any person from advertising or distributing any advertisement or other matter relating to liquor which solicits the use of or offers any liquor or which is calculated to or is likely to encourage or invite any individual or class of individuals or public to commit a breach of any rule..."

But Dr Alvares did not stop at that. He immediately served a notice on the state tourism department, pointing out that no liquor promotion can be allowed at the sate-sponsored five-day Food and Cultural Festival as well as the Carnival held in February.

Also under direct threat were the hundreds of "traditional" Christmas dances, where liquor flows like water, courtesy the liquor companies, who voluntarily come forward to sponsor such events, in kind or cash.

Sensing trouble, the government immediately moved into action. Making use of a provision under the same act, which allows exemptions under special circumstances, the government exempted liquor advertising and promotion for seven days, at special events.

The events, states the circular, are the Food and Cultural Festival, Carnival and other special events held for seven days. "These mainly include the Christmas dances and liquor companies' festivals", admits Singh.

Followed by a notification, the authorities this year invited President of India K R Narayanan to inaugurate the five-year old event held at Miramar beach. Uninterruptedly, the Christmas dances were also sponsored by the liquor companies this year.

"Tourists come to Goa precisely to see these events, which are mainly sponsored by the liquor companies, for the last 30 years", says Singh. The Carnival, to be held in February, may also be a different one now onwards, with this approach.

More relieved than this are the newspapers and magazines as well as the advertising agencies, who have been now given blanket concession to promote liquor through advertising, without any specified time bar.

Probably in "protest", the local newspapers had blacked out the news of even the high court directives which prohibited any kind of liquor promotion through advertising.

"But now they can only advertise a bottle or the brand names, and no additional literature, which would provoke the reader to drink", says Singh. Mere display of a bottle does not make a non-drunkard a drinker, he feels, but still legally allows the companies to "promote" it. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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