Cheers: Malayalee expats in Mina Market celebrate Kerala’s move to become a dry state Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Malayalee expatriates in Abu Dhabi have raised a toast to the government of Kerala’s decision to gradually become a dry state.

Malayalees from various walks of life, including blue collar workers, said the move improve the image of the south Indian state.

“It is possibly the best political decision,” said Ramakrishnan Kannan, a Malayalee worker.

“If there was prohibition when I was growing up, my life would have been different. I am a victim of my father’s alcoholism,” Kannan, 32, said.

He said he could not complete his schooling because his father, who worked as a carpenter, spent all his income on liquor. Known as the ‘booze capital of India’, Kerala has the highest consumption of alcohol at 8.3 litres per person. All that is likely to change when the state becomes alcohol free, following a new excise rule announced by the UDF (United Democratic Front) government.

More than 730 bars will be closed down immediately and outlets selling Indian-made foreign liquor will be scaled down by 10 per cent every year.

Indian politicians, businessmen and social leaders remain divided on the feasibility of prohibition in Kerala, but Malayalees in the UAE have no second thoughts.

A group of workers in Mina Market distributed sweets to celebrate Kerala as a dry state. Similar celebrations were also reported from labour camps in the industrial city of Mussafah.

“We are happy. My mum and sisters could not go out after six in the evening because of rampant alcoholism,” said Biju Jacob, a worker in Mina Fish Market.

Shibu Varghese, President of the Malayalee Samajam, one of the oldest community organisation for Malayalees in the capital, said alcoholism is a scourge plaguing Kerala. “This is a great favour to our youngsters who are becoming addicts.”

However, there are others who take prohibition with a pinch of salt. Vinod Rajagopal, general secretary of the India Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi, said he is cautious about Kerala becoming a dry state. “It will definitely have some positive social implications. But I am wary about the practicality of the decision,” he said.