No booze policy for Bihar babus

Government Officials of Bihar, which went dry 10 months ago, now cannot drink outside the state or even abroad, as described by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar‘s new rule. Bihar cabinet has cleared an amendment in the state prohibition law earlier this week, after which bureaucrats, judges or magistrates caught drinking anywhere in the world will be punished.

They may be subjected to dismissals, suspensions and even salary cuts. The service rules for officials, which prohibited them only from drinking on duty within the state, have been amended. Bihar is the first state to have such restrictions for officials and judges. The drinking ban also applies to Bihar officials on deputation outside the state.

Recently, the Chief Minister was asked in a public meeting whether bureaucrats will be put through alcohol tests. The man who asked the question alleged that officials were still drinking despite prohibition. It remains to be seen how the government plan to keep tabs on officials outside the state. One report suggests that they may only act when there is a complaint.

After banning liquor completely in Bihar in April, acting on a poll promise, Nitish Kumar has called it a revolutionary step that has, in a single swipe, reduced crime, promoted communal harmony and improved the eating habits of people.

Last month, Nitish Kumar and his ally Lalu Yadav joined thousands of people across Bihar in what was described as one of the longest human chain ever in support of the liquor ban. Even rival BJP participated in the effort, spurred by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s praise for the ban. Officials claimed that images of the 11,000 km chain were taken by three satellites, aircraft, helicopters and drones.

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