India lacks major uniformity in terms of the establishment of the alcohol laws for different states, perhaps because the law is under the State List. This, however, brings to light the massive polarities which exist in terms of the drinking age across the country’s spectrum.

Without a doubt, the alcohol laws in India reek of absurdity. With some states like Goa having the drinking age as 18 and other states and UTs like Delhi, Chandigarh, Haryana, Punjab, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli having the drinking age as 25.

Alcohol laws

In a country where one achieves adulthood at 18, is considered sane and capable enough to take his or her own life decisions and to even choose the government, consumption of alcohol in a few states hereby remains illicit till the mid-20s.

Alcohol laws

The government’s agenda in labelling 18 year olds as mature adults is in sharp contrast to them being called immature when it comes to drinking alcohol. This notion is ethically flawed and expels this section of the population from exercising autonomy over their own lives.

The alcohol laws in India (more specifically in the above-mentioned states) are one of the many outdated practices that still exist in contemporary times under the garb of moral policing.

Here’s a list of things one can do at 18 in India:

– It is considered to be the prerogative and right of an 18-year-old to cast his or her VOTE and be a part of the democratic process. One is said to have attained intellectual maturity for decision making by then.

Alcohol laws– At 18, young adults can choose their sexual partners at will and can engage in consensual sex and feel empowered as they are believed to have attained emotional and sexual maturity.

Alcohol laws

– Marrying at 18 (girls) and 21 (boys), settling down and having children is all seen as sanctioned by the laws. Young couples are seen as entities who are capable enough for family planning, but incapable of handling their liquor. They can take life-altering decisions, but a glass of wine to them is like a bull in a china shop.

Alcohol laws

– Young adults are often seen at Paan shops in shady corners, buying and consuming cigarettes and tobacco in other forms. Their discretion isn’t questioned here, but when it comes to alcohol all hell breaks loose. Tobacco consumption is perhaps worse for the body than alcohol is yet is legal at 18.

Alcohol laws

– Joining the armed forces is legally sanctioned once a person turns 18. He/she can fight for the nation and be, at the constant risk of getting shot at, but taking a shot at 18 is misguided.

Alcohol laws

Alcohol laws

– Other things included in the legally sanctioned-18-year-old-can-do bucket list, are driving, renting and watching ‘A’ rated movies, having an independent bank account and live-ins. Placing alcohol consumption out of this list seems rather illogical.

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Illegal and underage drinking is prevalent even now, all across these regions where roadside shops and thekas, act as major catalysts. Time and again they serve alcohol to people without checking for IDs. By restricting the age to 25, illegal and unsafe drinking is only further propelled.

Since restaurants have a cap according to the law, youngsters below 25 are often not served alcohol in licensed environments. By reducing the drinking age to 21 if not 18 it would automatically lead to a safer, licensed and regulated drinking practice.

This is because those people, who earlier bought alcohol from thekas and other street side shops, and drank in cars and shady alleyways, would then have access to alcohol in a more secure and open environment, through restaurants and bars. They wouldn’t need to resort to dishonest drinking practices.

One cannot guarantee a complete change in the spectrum however it is anticipated that levels of illegal underage drinking will reduce if the age for alcohol consumption is lowered.

In a day and age when the youth of our nation is so well aware and interconnected, drinking with friends, family and under parental supervision is rampant. A reduction in the drinking age will perhaps lead to responsible drinking. Hiding, cheating and lying be it from one’s parents or other members of the family would also see retardation.

Alcohol laws

AD Singh, Managing director, Olive Bar and Kitchen says “The current drinking age of 25 is impractical and needs to come down to at least 21. The rules are archaic now and need to be revised”.

In a majority of the countries in the world, the drinking age varies from 18-21. This coincides with the attainment of adulthood in most cases. As for countries which have the legal drinking age of 21, like the USA, the delay is only for a maximum of three years.

In Delhi, underage drinking in boys is around 89.8% and in girls, it is 64.6% where the legal drinking age is 25. In contrast to this, underage drinking in the UK, in boys is around 28.3% and in girls is around 32.6% where the drinking age is 18.

Lowering the age for alcohol intake will perhaps lead to a reduction in irresponsible and an increase in legitimate consumption patterns.

Adherence to laws would perhaps be greater once they are made keeping in mind the need for autonomy of the young adults.

It’s high time that India wakes up and revises its ancient alcohol laws and reassesses the already existing ones with scrutiny, so that an inclusive and uniform set of rules can be established and adhered to.

Hope we’ve given ya’ll something to ponder over.

Here’s some booze for thought.


Sources: Wikipedia, HBSC Study, India Today, Daily News and Analysis 

Images Source: Google Images


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