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General Studies 3 >> Science & Technology

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1. Context
The death of 57 people and hospitalisation of dozens following the consumption of illicit liquor in the village of Karunapuram in Tamil Nadu’s Kallakurichi district is a tragedy that could have been avoided
2. What is a Hooch?
"Hooch" is a slang term for illicitly produced or illegally distributed alcoholic beverages. The term is often used to describe homemade or bootleg alcohol, which is typically made without government regulation or quality control, and can sometimes be unsafe to drink due to the unregulated production process. The word "hooch" is believed to have originated from "hoochinoo," a term used by indigenous people in Alaska to describe a type of homemade liquor. Over time, the term evolved and became widely used to refer to any illegal or homemade alcoholic drink
3. How is Hooch produced?
  • Preparation:

    • Mixing: Sugar is dissolved in water to create a sugary solution. If fruits or grains are used, they are often mashed or cooked to release their sugars.
    • Sterilization: The mixture is sometimes boiled to kill any unwanted bacteria or wild yeast.
  • Fermentation:

    • Adding Yeast: Once the mixture is at an appropriate temperature, yeast is added.
    • Fermenting: The mixture is left in a sealed container with an airlock to ferment for several days to weeks. During this time, the yeast converts the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  • Distillation:

    • Initial Product: The fermented liquid, called "wash" or "mash," contains a relatively low concentration of alcohol.
    • Heating: The wash is heated in a still. Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, so it evaporates first.
    • Condensation: The alcohol vapour is collected and condensed back into liquid form, which is then collected as "hooch."
4. What are the effects of spurious liquor?
Spurious liquor, often referred to as fake or adulterated alcohol, can have severe and sometimes fatal effects on health.
Here are some of the key effects:
  • Methanol Poisoning: Spurious liquor often contains methanol, a toxic substance that can cause:
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Headaches
    • Abdominal pain
    • Blurred vision or blindness
    • Seizures
    • Coma or death in severe cases
  • Organ Damage: Chronic consumption of spurious liquor can lead to long-term damage to vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, and heart.
  • Neurological Effects: Adulterated alcohol can cause neurological damage, leading to confusion, poor coordination, and cognitive impairment.
  • Respiratory Issues: Acute poisoning can result in respiratory distress or failure.
  • Cardiovascular Problems: Can cause irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular issues.
Constitution about Spurious Liquor
Intoxicating liquors are listed under List II (State List) of the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution. This means that the regulation and control over intoxicating liquors, including production, distribution, and sale within a state, fall under the jurisdiction and legislative authority of the state governments in India
The prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs that are harmful to health in India is primarily addressed under Article 47 of the Indian Constitution. This article is located in Part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy), which outlines the principles for the state to follow in governance and policy-making. Article 47 specifically directs the state to endeavor to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health. It emphasizes the state's duty to improve public health and promote the well-being of its citizens by implementing measures to reduce the consumption of harmful substances
5. Advantages and Disadvantages of Liquor ban
Advantages of Alcohol Ban Disadvantages of Alcohol Ban
Public Health Benefits: Economic Impact:
Reduced alcohol-related diseases and disorders. Loss of revenue from alcohol sales and taxes
Decreased incidents of alcohol-related incidents Potential increase in illicit alcohol production
Lower burden on healthcare and emergency services Impact on businesses such as bars and restaurants
Social Benefits:  
Reduction in domestic violence and crime Social Implications:
Improved public safety and security Potential for underground alcohol market
Promotes healthier lifestyles and family stability Cultural and social impact on traditional practices
Psychological Benefits: Limited personal freedom and choice
Reduction in alcohol addiction and dependency Potential for civil unrest or resistance
Better mental health outcomes in communities  
6. Way Forward
Implementing an alcohol ban involves balancing public health and social considerations with potential economic and cultural impacts, which can vary significantly based on local context and enforcement strategies
Source: The Hindu

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