This is not what you’re supposed to do….!!!

The other day my stock of Vodka in the house had run dry and on the way back from office took a small detour towards Khan Market, New Delhi to visit a liquor shop. I was directed by the parking attendant to a shop located in Lok Nayak Bhavan which primarily houses many central government offices.

Located on the ground floor there is a liquor shop run by DSIDC (a Delhi State govt institution)…….a dilapidated old shop with half the shop entrance hidden (and non accessible) behind shutters and discarded carton boxes whilst the other half had steel bars which allowed only one person to enter or exit at a time. Inevitably there was a long queue of about 25 people waiting for their turn….and as each customer would exit he would be frisked by a employee…probably for unaccounted purchases. It seemed gruesome to me but then they all waited…..some with patience and some (like me) with not so much patience. I knew of better places to go to so I left but what struck me is why should the government be in a business of retailing liquor…..its responsibility is to govern, collect revenues, develop infrastructure and make policies….not sell liquor bottles or nips to the citizens.

There are four state government corporations namely DTTDC, DSCSC, DSIDC and DCCWS which are currently engaged in the retail trade of liquor, with a total of about 300 shops while the private entrepreneurs hold just 34 shops for retail sale of liquor all over Delhi.

When the country is moving towards privatization and the governments are steadily reducing their role to act as facilitators, the Delhi Government seems to be working in the opposite direction. It is probably the only government which is actively involved in “promotion of liquor trade”. So, let’s have a close look at the objectives and the mission with which these agencies were set up…..

DTTDC  – Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation is a Government body set up under the aegis of Government of Delhi for overall development and promotion of Delhi as a tourist destination for Domestic and International tourists visiting India……so are they luring tourists by manning the liquor vends?

DSCSC – To promote , develop, improve and finance production, purchase, procurement, processing, movement, transport, import/export and Distribution/sale of food stuffs, cement , coal ,building materials, beverages, pharmaceuticals, petroleum products & other essential and consumable commodities…..does liquor now feature as an essential commodity?

DSIIDC – aims at the balanced growth of the national capital and has taken several measures so as to benefit the economically weaker groups. It is one the agencies of Delhi Government that builds houses for the urban poor. 13,820 houses have been completed till date…..growth of the national capital by selling liquor?

DCCWS – Delhi Consumers Cooperative Wholesale Store Ltd. The need for establishment of this society arose during the post China aggression period when the prices of the essential commodities went sky-high in the market due to over-all shortages of consumer goods created by the traders by hoarding stocks for profiteering. The society was required to make bulk procurement of essential consumer goods from the sources and supply the same to the affiliated Primary stores & to public at large on reasonable prices…….fantastic mission but then again I fail to see what this mission has to do with liquor….any connection?

It is said that if the liquor trade is taken away from DTTDC, it would find it difficult to stand on its feet. The situation is no different in the DSCSC and DSIDC which are also surviving on the revenue from liquor trade. While DSCSC has failed miserably in its primary responsibility of ensuring an efficient Public Distribution System, it has been desperately sticking to the liquor trade.

The neighboring States of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and even Punjab annually auction their liquor vends and fetch huge revenue. But here the excise revenue hovers around Rs. 500 to Rs. 600 crores which is meager considering the consumption patterns.

 It is unfortunate that many tourist destinations are in a state of neglect. While the DTTDC has no time to take care of them or develop new spots, it is busy selling liquor. The DSCSC should concentrate on welfare measures for consumers and strengthening of the PDS rather than promoting sale of liquor.

So, in my humble opinion the government has no business to be in business but should rather focus its energies and resources to what it is meant to do…..good governance.


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