Toddy makers of Bihar wary of selling country-beer after alcohol ban

For thousands of people, mostly men, in rural Bihar, toddy is regarded as the poor man’s beer. Toddy, locally called Tadi, is considered as a natural juice,made from the sap of palm tree. It has been a favourite of villagers who throng toddy-makers in the evening to drink the mildly alcoholic drink at Rs. 10 a mug.

Suresh Chowdhary, belonging to the Pasi community has been making Toddy since the last 20 years. The recent alcohol ban in Bihar, and then exempting only Toddy from the ban, has put the toddy-makers in a conundrum. At present, Toddy can be sold at a distance of 100 m and 50 m in urban and rural areas, respectively, from public places like educational institutions, health centres and places of worship.While the state has allowed toddy sellers to go on with usual business, the toddy makers fear that the government can put a ban on Toddy back at any time. They are also afraid because they continue to be harassed by the local police.  

Like him over 20 lakh members of the Pasi community also primarily depend on this palm wine for their livelihood. As Toddy making is a generational occupation, the toddy-makers are reluctant to shift careers. "We have always been associated with this profession. How can we leave this profession?," asks Sanjay Chowdhary. While Bihar government explores alternatives to using the palm tree juice healthily, at present, the absence of alternative jobs for Toddy makers has left them in a lurch. 

This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Surendra Sharma.

Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org. Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change.

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