Hooch Tragedies in India: a review

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‘Hooch’ is a colloquial term for alcoholic beverages (also spelled hootch). Originally used to mean specifically "cheap whiskey" (1897) it is a shortened form of Hoochinoo (1877), a liquor made by the Tlingit, an indigenous people of Alaska. The name comes from a Tlingitḵwáan or group called the Xutsnoowú Ḵwáan whose distilled liquor was a favourite with miners in the 1898 Klondike gold rush (1). In the present context, ‘hooch as a term has acquired a global reference to denote any illegal liquor. Moonshine is another term which was coined nearly the same time when hooch was coined. Moonshine is referred to a white whisky, which is high-proof distilled spirit, generally produced illicitly (2). In India term ‘Lattha’is used to define any spurious liquor, which contains methanol or any other poisonous substances, which may cause harmful or injurious effect on human body or death to a person (recent amendment in Bombay Prohibition Act 1949). Other names for illicit liquor are Khopadi, Ladda, Dalda, Bewada, French polish, etc (3).

India is a developing nation, where 42 % of its total population falls below international poverty line (3). Although the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of India has increased five folds and life expectancy has doubled since independence (4), still a larger population finds it hard to purchase liquor from authorized shops. This very population ultimately end up in consuming illicit liquor bought from bootleggers at cheaper prices. Unfortunately with repeated hooch tragedies, a system shows its inefficiency in curbing this lethal phenomenon.Through this paper, we have tried to focus on the sociological impact, it causes and existing legal provision to curb this deadly menace. Further we have proposed some recommendations, which may help authorities to strengthen existing laws.

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