The entire nation was jolted by the ill-fated deaths of people due to counterfeit alcohol in the first half of this year. Not just precious lives were lost but families were left devastated in the states of UP, Uttarakhand, and Assam. The onus of the tragedy fell upon the respective State Governments and a debate ushered in the by lanes of media and forums on the present regulatory and anti-counterfeiting measures against fake and illicit alcohol in the country.
According to a study published in the journal Lancet, India’s alcohol consumption has increased by 38% in the last seven years-that’s 4.3 to 5.9 litres per adult per year. Another study states that India is the biggest consumer of whisky in the world. However, the rising demand for alcohol has led to the growth of spurious alcohol industry.
There have been frequent reports of seizures of counterfeit and bootleg alcohol from different states of India. According to a report by FICCI, “The grey market loss to the alcoholic beverage industry stood at INR 14,140 crore in 2014 which had increased from INR 5,626 crore in 2012 observing an increase of over 150 per cent.”
There are various reasons for the growth of counterfeiting in the alcohol industry. Lack of awareness regarding the effects of counterfeit alcohol is one big reason. The poor consumer is lured by the cheap prices of counterfeit alcohol and thus ends up buying counterfeit alcohol which may contain toxic adulterants. These adulterants lead to serious repercussions like kidney failure, liver failure, blindness, and even death.
The government must address the problem of counterfeit alcohol seriously as it hampers the growth of manufacturers, leads to a loss of Government exchequer and jeopardizes the health of the consumers. The combination of digital and holographic solutions can prevent the growth of counterfeit alcohol to a large extent. The U.P state government is currently using bar codes which have not been completely successful in clamping down on counterfeits, therefore, authentication solution providers association (ASPA) has suggested governments to incorporate holographic products along with bar codes/QR codes on liquor bottles to battle the menace of duplication in the liquor industry.
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