#RightToDrink: Dear lawmakers, have faith in Indian youth. They can handle their alcohol

Let's not make alcohol cool by banning it or imposing a ridiculous age bar on it.

Straight out of a disciplined, channelled life in school, when teenagers are thrown into a life of freedom, the whole world attracts their youth. Parties, road trips, relationships, they want to experience it all! Their rebellious attitude pushes them to pick up certain vices, be it cigarettes, marijuana or alcohol. It is taken with a sense of entitlement as, soon they’ll get back into a routined lifestyle once they embark upon their professional career. After that, it’s all about marriage and having babies and responsibilities. It is this age group of 18-25, where one plans on having that “last blow-out” because ‘kya pata, kal ho na ho‘. But, the laws in India, a young nation, seem to be completely ignorant of this lifestyle otherwise, there is no reason for an age limitation of 25 on the consumption of alcohol.

Laws regarding alcohol consumption vary greatly for each state in India. While some states like Goa permit anyone above 18 to drink alcohol, other regions like Bihar, Gujarat, Nagaland, Manipur and Lakshwadeep have imposed a complete liquor ban. The age limitation is 25 in some other regions like Haryana, Maharashtra (except wine and beer) and the same goes for the national capital. I take issue with this restriction as, pretty much anyone and everyone who’s gonna be drinking, has already tried it, gotten sloshed, and passed out before the age of 25. In fact, by 25, most of them are already trying to cut back on their alcohol consumption and get serious. Although binge drinking is not advisable, there’s no better time to do it than in your early 20s. After all, being young and being stupid are one and the same.

The relationship between youth and alcohol is deeper than it seems. For most youngsters, alcohol is a go-to stress reliever. Given the amount of things that go on in their minds, sometimes, it is important to not have a clear head and just let go. While some people are total pros at this (the born piyakkads), others, who do not share their innate desire to drink, are pulled into it because of peer pressure. There’s also the sudden thrill for some youngsters of moving away from their homes for higher education that lands them at a bar and drives them to say, “Daaru de, BC!

And it’s not like authorities closely monitor who’s drinking and who isn’t. Anybody who looks considerably older is not asked to show their ID anyway. Furthermore, whoever wants to consume it, is going to sneak in a drink, regardless of the restrictions. Prohibiting it only makes it a forbidden fruit which attracts more rebellious souls. So, it makes absolutely no sense to place this restriction.

The sole reason for the imposition of an age restriction is to judge a person’s level of maturity. For that matter, even if you push the age limit up to 60, that doesn’t shut out the possibility of irrational binge drinking. While some 20-year-olds act brash at the slightest whiff of a cold beer, others can down whole bottles of vodka and still retain their sense of decency. Alcohol may be a catalyst in criminal acts and behavioural misconduct but, it is not the source. I feel it is important that we modify these laws that demean us and learn to put more faith in our youth.