Kochi: President Pratibha Patil on Monday expressed concern about alcoholism in Kerala, while she praised the numerous social advances the state has made.
Speaking at the inauguration of the National Conference of All India Federation of Women Lawyers in Kochi, she said it was significant that this event was being held in Kerala, a state which has to its credit women who have made remarkable achievements in the legal field.
"It is a state where the female population is over 51 per cent and the literacy rate of females is 88 per cent, the highest in India. However, I am surprised to learn that in spite of this, alcoholism is rampant and women are the worst sufferers. Similarly, I am told that the dowry system persists and continues to be a major problem here," Patil said.
She was speaking of alcoholism at a time when the state is heading for the highest ever sales of liquor for the month of December -- expected to cross Rs 450 crore ($9 million).
According to figures provided by Kerala State Beverages Corporation, the sole wholesalers of liquor in the state, the total sales for this fiscal is expected to be in excess of Rs 5,300 crore, up from Rs 4,631 crore in the last fiscal.
Concluding her inaugural speech Patil expressed concern about the debilitating effect of alcoholism and drug addiction on individuals, families and societies.
"I particularly call upon women and the youth of the country to take up the challenge to eliminate these social evils and work towards changing social attitudes and social mindsets. I believe that women have great potential to bring about change in society and that is why I am asking them to take the lead. This will bring peace, prosperity and a sense of well-being in society," said Patil.
Patil has been in Kochi since Sunday and left for New Delhi immediately after the inauguration of the conference.