More than 130 people died after consuming bootleg liquor in Gujarat last week.

While prohibition is in place in Gujarat, liquor is often smuggled in from neighbouring states and people are forced to buy it at inflated prices.

What can the poor do? They cannot afford to buy branded alcohol so they consume illicit liquor. Plastic pouches called ‘potlis’ of illegally brewed liquor are available for as little as ten rupees.

Some have said that Gujarat’s prohibition policy encourages bootlegging. Liquor baron Vijay Mallya argues that apart from loss of revenue this leads to “illegal, unhygienic and unsupervised production of deadly cocktails which claim innocent lives.”

During the Great Depression, the ‘Noble Experiment’ prohibition policy in the United States was repealed just 14 years after the sale of alcohol was banned.

An article in the Foreign Policy magazine, a couple of years ago, argued:

“A ‘drug-free world,’ which the United Nations describes as a realistic goal, is no more attainable than an ‘alcohol-free world’ – and no one has talked about that with a straight face since the repeal of Prohibition in the United States in 1933.”