That Kerala has an alcohol problem is not a secret. The southern state has the highest per capital liquor consumption in the country–about 8 liters per person a year. There are also a lot of social ills associated with such high consumption. But that is no reason to direct anger towards a mobile application that gives information on alcohol brands and prices.
The app, called Kuppi, was downloaded by more than 25,000 people in hardly a week from launch. It has now been pulled off Google Play Store, owing to the hue and cry in Kerala about it. If you still want it, you can download an apk from websites such as this.
As this report in Business Standard points out, there was quite a lot of pressure from civil society organisations. Johnson Edayaranmula, of Alcohol & Drug Information Centre (ADIC) which is fighting growing alcoholism in Kerala told Business Standard that the app is an example of “unethical practices of the liquor lobby,” to promote alcohol. He said that it violates Article 47 of the Constitution and Cable Television Network (Regulation) Amendment bill.
Banning the app is like treating the symptom, while people should be finding a cure. Truth be told, Kerala has a liquor problem. Last year, liquor worth nearly Rs 9,000 cr was sold in Kerala. But, how does the app promote drinking? All it does is display prices from the website of state owned Beverages Corporations. It also shows you the way to the nearest liquor outlet. But so does Google maps? Not that Malayalees need a map to find the nearest liquor outlet.
We’ve got many other apps that do similar things. Ban all of them? Really?
Is there a way out? Will displaying a statutory warning (like they do on Cigarette packets & Movies) with ugly pictures before the app loads solve the underlying problem? Will it be an effective deterrent? We think not.