A recent rash of moonshine deaths in Gujarat got us thinking about the state’s failed prohibition policy (PDF). While liquor bans may have some discernible impact in isolated villages, they’re doomed to failure in larger regions that are tied to wet neighbors via modern highways. But the black market for legit liquor is only for the moderately well-off; the poor must make do with bootleg hooch, which all-too-often is spiked with lethal amounts of methanol.
Yet Gujarat’s prohibition still enjoys broad support from politicians—though not necessarily because they’re pandering to the morals crowd. As this excellent slideshow on Indian political thuggery makes clear, politicians enjoy being able to bribe poor voters with bottles of whiskey. Were prohibition to fall by the wayside, their bribes would lose some value. And so the dangerous charade continues.