The Telegraph of Calcutta reported an odd story last week. It indicated that the Birhor in a village in Jharkhand are agitating for more liquor. Vishvendu Jaipuriar, author of the report, wrote that a young Birhor man from the Chatra district wrote to the state government requesting that the price of liquor be reduced.

Sanjay Birhor, from Tanda, a village which is located close to Dhamania, in Chatra, complained in a letter to the district welfare officer, Awadhesh Kumar Sinha, that the price of liquor in the town was too expensive. It cost Rs 8 (about US$0.16) per bottle, which he said he and the rest of his community could not afford. He asked the official if he could bring the cost down to Rs 5 per bottle, which was evidently the earlier price.

The paper asserts that the Birhor in that village consume liquor on a daily basis, despite the fact that they do not have much income from their begging and their sales of herbal medicines. Contacted by the journalist, Mr. Birhor said, “our forefathers were in [the] habit of taking liquor, and the practice is continuing.” Members of his village consume liquor regularly, he said.

He told the Telegraph that the people in the community normally hold aside funds for liquor before they buy the rest of the items they need. “In my application, I have requested the state government to look into the matter, as drinking is related to our daily habit and well-being.” The government official, Mr. Sinha, told the paper that his department is trying to get the Birhor of that village to give up their drinking habit.