Raising the Bar?

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While the rest of the world is moving towards a more liberal era, Maharashtra seems to have taken a good number of steps behind with the recent hike in the minimum age for alcohol consumption. According to this new legislation, India’s young adults can only sip on beer and wine if they are 21 years of age, while hard liquor can be enjoyed by those who are 25 years and above.
“The world over, the legal drinking age is lower than 25. If we are adult enough to be married and to drive a car, then I think we’re adult enough to enjoy a drink too. Plus, raising the bar in general is not going to curb drinking whatsoever. We have all been at that age and know how easy it is to get it as well as the inclination towards wanting it. Do we have the capability to really enforce it?” says Nikhil Agarwal, Sommelier and Director of All Things Nice, a platform for knowledge, networking and indulgent experiences for aficionados of wine, luxury spirits and gourmet food.

PROHIBITION LEADS TO CURIOUSITY
While it stands true that the intake of excess alcohol at a young age can curb the development of the brain, a common woe is that the complete prohibition of alcohol consumption only makes the younger generation want to try it, causing some to get addicted at an age earlier than they actually would. “If you raise the curiosity level, the chances of youngsters taking to the bottle are very high. Further, by making it difficult for them to drink legally, the only way out for them will be to rely on grey market vendors where quality is suspect. It will also most likely motivate them to try other substances which may become less of a hassle to acquire but are potentially more dangerous,” feels Agarwal. In fact, a number of countries who have toyed with the idea of prohibiting alcohol have ultimately not gone on to pursue it. Most know that Gujarat is one of the few Indian states that prohibits alcohol consumption. But few know that in such places, people, including young teens, purchase alcohol from illegal sources at high prices, while corruption and bribery become a by-product in such conditions.

RESPONSIBLE DRINKING
20-year-old Mumbai-based student Sarja Pednekar, however, welcomes this new policy, depicting the responsible way of thinking in youngsters today. “I have seen students my age wasting their lives drinking, so much so that it has now become a part of their lifestyle. Young people who drink, feel as if they are enjoying their lives, but the truth remains that it is during these crucial years that they need to work toward their goals; however, most seem to be losing themselves in alcohol. But I do feel that the law alone cannot govern the age limit of drinking. Those who want to consume alcohol will do so in any way that they can. If everyone takes responsibility, there will be no need for such laws,” says Pednekar. “Education on the dangers of excess would be a great way forward. Making the subject taboo rather than talking about it openly will definitely not make it go away,” feels Agarwal. Even with the high drinking age law, most young adults will not wait till they are older to drink socially.

YOUTH SPEAK

  • Kimberley Fernandes, 19 years
    “I read about it a while ago, and I support Imran Khan who tried to take on the State Government after they issued a drinking age hike. I feel that the hike is a silly move.”
  • Binoy Sharma, 19 years
    “Why are they abusing our right to freedom? The only thing this does is increase the illegal sale of liquor and more ways to make money, adding to the corruption.”
  • Jason Fernandes, 22 years
    “I feel this move was uncalled for. It’s unfair as well, and I really don’t think that it will help kids become more responsible.”

 

Volume 1 Issue 4

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