Mahua: The Indian liquor that the British banned | Tech US News


Interestingly, even after India gained independence in 1947, the old economic and social customs remained intact. “The state remained closely associated with the monopoly of the sale and production of alcohol, just like the former colonial rulers, and mahua remained under strict laws and limitations,” Wald said.

“Alcohol was a frequent target for temperance advocates and early nationalists,” Wald continued. “Boycotts and picketing of alcohol shops, and the insistence of some nationalists that alcohol was ‘foreign’ to India, meant that even drinks like mahua, which were so important in the lives of many tribes, were grouped together as problematic.”

Thus, mahua remained classified as a low-quality “dangerous” drink, and tribal peoples were denied the right to produce and sell it beyond traditional village markets.

“It gives you the nature of post-independence Indian elites who were very disdainful of the lifestyles of the indigenous population,” said Krishnendu Ray, a professor of food studies at New York University. “It ended up producing a lot of mediocre, homogenous stuff that shaped the Indian liquor industry.”

Faced with the legacy of this socio-political canvas, it would take a few enterprising and strong voices interested in rebranding mahua as a quality craft spirit, while also trying to bring about changes in excise laws, to begin lifting liquor bans.


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