Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
It is possible, and in our opinion desirable, that efforts should be made in all industrial centres to reduce the number of drink shops and to restrict the hours during which liquor may be sold. We suggest that in all large cities and industrial areas a general policy should be adopted of restricting the facilities for the sale of liquor. The areas selected should be sufficiently wide to ensure the policy of restriction being effective. The number of drink shops should be reduced and the hours of opening should be limited to certain hours which should in no case include any part of the forenoon. Outside the stated hours, the sale of liquor should be prohibited. We note with interest that in some areas of the United Provinces spirituous liquor may be supplied only in sealed bottles, a rule which, according to the memorandum furnished to us by the local Government, has resulted in reduced consumption. We recommend that the possibility of a wide extension of the system be examined, for all reasonable steps should be taken to reduce the temptations to excessive drinking. In considering this question it is impossible to ignore whet we believe to be the greatest difficulty in the way of restriction on sales. This arises from the importance of the excise duties to provincial revenues. In Madras, country liquors alone contributed in 1928-29 over a quarter of the total provincial revenue; in Bihar and Orissa they furnished nearly a fifth of the total. Our proposals are limited to a small section of the population and in any case we are not competent to discuss the merits of alternative sources of taxation. Our duty, however, is to make recommendations with reference to the " health, efficiency and standard of living of the workers ". The reduction of drinking should effect improvements in all of these and thereby it will in due course increase the taxable capacity of the people. It is for Legislative Councils and Governments, if they consider that a price may be paid for these advantages. to determine the manner in which that price should be secured. In our recommendations elsewhere, we have sought to ensure for the worker better surroundings, less fatigue and increased facilities for amusement and recreation. Reduction in the consumption of drink is not the least of the benefits that such improvements may be expected to bring.