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Dark truth behind BBC’s narrative on Liquor consumption in India

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Anant Chetan
Anant Chetan
An aficionado blogger and an engineer by profession. By qualifications, a Masters in Embedded System Design.

There is this one thing that irritates me beyond imagination “the country is doomed, nothing would change“, especially when the person who utters these words has never lifted his damn little finger ever to fix or even make a tiny effort to fix something. This irritation turns into anger when the person turns out to be somebody who has been using subsidies in the name of caste based reservation and special minority.

My dear friend, I know you know that I am talking about you, I wouldn’t have written this, if you would have stopped spamming my inbox with stupid articles even when I asked you not to. You see a lot of issues with India because BBC says so, BBC never lies according to you.

This time you sent this: Dark truth behind India’s post-lockdown liquor lines.

I am glad that you sent this one, because I just needed to click on the links mentioned in the very same article to prove that your BBC creates news articles around a pre-defined narrative; which by the way is to just show India down. The interesting part is that this time you would not be able to question my research because everything I am writing in this article is from the reports/surveys linked by your truthful BBC in the article. If only you would have clicked on the hyperlinks and had a look at the sources, you would have seen that yours truly BBC did not write the complete truth.

In the article your BBC infers India’s growing alcohol consumption masks a darker reality. Since you are too busy I have color coded the content, the one with green are the statements from the BBC article as-is, not a word added or removed by me. You won’t have to switch between the sites to check if I cheated. By the what are you busy with? TikTok? Youtube? Gaming? Roaming on streets?

Whatever! Lets start. The article says:

“Yet, by volume, India is the world’s second-largest consumer of alcohol, behind China, according IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, a London-based research firm. India consumes more than 663 million litres of alcohol, up 11% from 2017. Per-capita consumption is rising.”

Every word your BBC wrote is true, 100%. But they intentionally forgot to mention a few things. Like, India and China top the list not because they are drinking too much, but because they are the largest and second largest populations in the world. In fact if you click on pre-capita consumption hyperlink above, you would see India is not even in the top ten list. Below are the two snapshots from the very same link:


That was India’s per capita consumption of 5.7 liters. Now look below:


That is BBC’s UK with 11.5 liters. You can see that every other country’s consumption is increasing. But that’s not all, there is a burnol moment if you notice carefully. Do you see that gender bias? India who according to BBC and you suppresses its women, has a bias of 7.7 liters (9.4 lt for men minus 1.7 for women) . However, BBC’s UK has a bias of 13.6 liters(18.4 lt for men minus 4.8 lt for women). May be women in the UK are not allowed to drink more, feminists should have a look here. Aww poor women of the UK. Now please don’t say 7.7 is bigger than 13.6.

Although, not relevant to this but in case you were wondering why their per capita consumption is decreasing? You should look at the change of demographics in the UK. The number is decreasing because the numbers of non-Muslim is decreasing and the number of Muslims is increasing (they stay away from liquor).

Anyway, moving on. Hang on, 15+? I din’t know 15 year olds were allowed to drink. Did you? Anyways, moving on.

Next in the BBC article:

“A third of Indian men drink alcohol, according to a new government report. More than 14% of all Indians aged between 10 and 75 drink. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 11% of Indians are binge drinkers, against the global average of 16%.”

Again true. Every word your BBC wrote is true, 100%. But they intentionally forgot to mention a few things. Like, it is a survey and not a pure report. There is a difference, and a big one. Before I come to the difference, the survey has a title “Magnitude of Substance Use” and was conducted so as to answer questions like the one mentioned in the snapshot below that  I pulled from the text, have a look at the underline part.


This means that the text is pulled out of context. The survey was not conducted across whole of India, but specifically to the parts that are/were struggling with substance abuse. You will see the same in the next paragraph below.

The survey uses two approaches: 1. Household Survey and 2. Respondent Driven Sampling. 

In RDS, the surveyors questioned 72 thousand people with drug dependence, spread across around 135 districts only (India has a total of 640 districts). In HHS, the surveys questioned around 4 lakh people spread across 186 districts. If most of the districts out of 186 were in Punjab, the overall results would obviously be high. So, you should think about the reason as to why 186 districts were chosen out of 640. Its like going to Chennai and coming out with a survey claiming 75% of the people in India eat Dosa in breakfast. Does this make sense? That’s why I mentioned in the beginning, the purpose with which the survey was conducted is very critical. 

So, a third of Indian men is not a third of men living in India, but it is the men who were questioned. More than 14% of Indians is the percentage of people questioned and not 14% of 1.38 billion. Please, have a look at the methodology of the survey.

Moving on, next in the article your BBC says:

“Also, the WHO reckons that “unrecorded” alcohol makes up more than half of all alcohol consumed in India. Locally brewed liquor, for example, is not recorded or taxed in some states. A survey by the International Alliance of Responsible Drinking in 2014 found a large number of drinkers preferring country liquor or homemade alcohol, often counterfeit and contraband.”

Again true. Every word your BBC wrote is true, 100%. But they intentionally forgot to mention a few things. This time it clearly mentions survey. But the survey in itself is quite interesting. First, the sample size. The surveyors questioned a total of whooping 6,088 people in all of India. Oh my god, so many people. How could they? Just to put the number in perspective. How many castes do we have? Last I knew the number was more than 5000 for OBC category and slightly more than 1200 for SC category. i.e. 6200 and that’s only two specific categories, I know the numbers because I wrote an article regarding this a year ago (When or How does a child become “caste-literate”?) you could get the links from where I got the number. The surveyor did not even cover one person from each caste let alone the 25,000 and more sub-castes.

Second, the large number of counterfeit and contraband mentioned in the article turns out to be 2% and 1% of not the total samples but the current drinkers. As per the survey the current drinkers were 39% of the total, that means 2375 people, 2% of them drinking counterfeit alcohol is a whooping 48 people and 1% of them drinking contraband is mind boggling 24. Some body should make a meme on it, 48 & 24 are large;  some people have this many kids and wives combined. LOL! How large is large?

Nevertheless, moving on. Next in the article is:

“Indians are drinking more than before. A recent study of liquor consumption in 189 countries between 1990 and 2017 found that consumption in India had grown by 38% – from 4.3 litres a year per adult to 5.9 litres.”

Once again true. Every word your BBC wrote is true, perhaps not 100% true; the last number as per WHO is 5.7 (just scroll a few paragraphs up; I would not have pointed 0.2 liters out, but since it is in the very same article so becomes noticeable especially when the years are same.)

But once again they intentionally forgot to mention a few things. It could be true that the consumption grew by 38% between 1990 and 2017, but it is definitely true that the Indian population grew by 44% between 1990 to 2017 (from approx 800 million to 1.38 billion). On the contrary, the alcohol consumption did not increase in proportion to increase in population. May be because of the change in the demographics exactly like the UK, you could check for yourself which religion is growing more. Once again, you should have a look at the study, and check for yourself the purpose of the study, the sample size, the distribution of the samples, the condition of people questioned. 

So, my dear friend how are you doing so far? Just stay with me for a little more. We are almost done for today.

Next the article says:

“Nearly 10% of adult men were found to be addicted to alcohol, according to the National Mental Healthy Survey, 2015-16. More than 60% of deaths due to cirrhosis of liver were linked to consumption of alcohol.”

This is completely an irrelevant piece of information. 10% of what? 60% of how many deaths? What was the sample size? The article does not shares the link but you could find the survey on internet, I found it. The survey was conducted on 32,000 people in 45 districts. Did I mention how many districts India has(you could scroll up)? The survey was specifically directed towards a goal to answer questions regarding people suffering from some sort of mental illness. So, once again 10% of what? Is it 10% of 32000 people sampled? Or 10% of the people from this sample who were mentally ill? Or 10% of the people who were mentally ill and were current drinkers? I will urge you to look at the survey and find this number on your own, I can give you the number right now, but I will not. It took me hours to read the damn report. Put your playstation aside and start reading the survey, and I can bet, you would be surprised as to how tiny that 10% is in reality. That could be a meme too.

So, here I will stop. For now. I am looking forward to your next link that you send me. I hope next time you will do some homework before hand. By the way, your BBC got the wrong number of states, we have 28 states now, not 29. Are they getting their current affairs via Pakistan? Not being able to digest the fact that J&K are not a state anymore?

Before I finish, let me tell you about one more survey, 80% of the well informed NRIs in Germany find BBC disgusting, useless and propaganda site. Since, you are my friend I will provide you with some extra details, which by the way I will forget to mention if I were a corporation like BBC and may be the readers wouldn’t notice if they were all like you. The survey had only five samples. Four out of five people called BBC disgusting, useless and propaganda, the fifth one claimed not to read so NA for him. #BiasedBullshitCorporation

Oh, now the sample size is too small and is not properly distributed. Come on, all the surveys above are like this, check the ratios, not too far fetched.

I would sincerely request all my readers to be careful of such news articles. There are always critical pieces of information which are kept hidden to create a narrative. I have been trying to bring those hidden aspects to the foreground for the articles that I come across. It is our responsibility to deflate narratives like these. I have absolutely no issues putting my time and efforts in reading these reports/surveys and writing about them. What I need from you is your support in spreading the awareness. Please share this post of mine at as many places as possible. More and more Indians need to be made aware of this. Please join me in my crusade to spread awareness.

Thank you for reading!!!

Also read some other articles where critical pieces were intentionally kept hidden:

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Anant Chetan
Anant Chetan
An aficionado blogger and an engineer by profession. By qualifications, a Masters in Embedded System Design.
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