Indian alcohol banned by the British

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Indian alcohol banned by the British

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Interestingly, even after India gained independence in 1947, the old economic and social mores remained intact. “The state remained closely associated with the monopoly of the sale and production of alcohol, as did the former colonial rulers, and the mahua remained subject to strict laws and limitations,” Wald said.

“Alcohol was a frequent target for temperance supporters and early nationalists,” Wald continued. “Boycotts and pickets of liquor stores, and the insistence by some nationalists that liquor was ‘foreign’ to India, meant that even drinks like mahua, which were so important in the lives of many tribals, were lumped together as problematic.”

Thus, the mahua remained classified as a low quality and “dangerous” drink, and the tribal people were denied the right to produce it and sell it beyond the traditional village markets.

“It tells you the nature of the post-independence Indian elites who were very dismissive of the lifestyles of the indigenous population,” said Krishnendu Ray, professor of food studies at New York University. “It ended up producing a lot of the mediocre, seamless stuff that shaped the Indian liquor industry.”

Against the legacy of this socio-political canvas, it would take a few strong entrepreneurial voices interested in rebranding mahua as a quality craft spirit, while also trying to change excise laws, to start raising alcohol bans.

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