Underage drinking has become a leading concern, but awareness about it is still very less. Many could significantly deny this to be even a matter of concern, but that would be just an assumption and not based on the statistics. As per a survey conducted in Delhi by Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD) to assess the ratio of underage drinking, 88.8 percent of the population have consumed alcoholic beverages before being of the legal drinking age, i.e., 25 years for the Nation’s Capital. The market size for the survey was 10,000. Of which 98 percent were aware of the legal drinking age.
ARE WE DOING ENOUGH?
The approach towards consuming alcohol of youth is very casual and ignorant. We have certainly seen hoarding everywhere that below the legal drinking age, nobody will be served alcohol; still, 66.7 percent could successfully procure alcohol from bars, liquor shops, and restaurants, as per the survey.
The times of India Group recently visited 12 pubs in Bangalore to understand the current situation, of which 5 pubs were serving alcohol to underage youths without checking the ID proofs, then are we doing enough?
The state cannot appoint an officer for every shop or for every pub to check into the following of the rules. Then who do we decide the accountability? In a scenario, if a father is encouraging an underage son’s drinking, who shall be held accountable.
DRINKING AGE IN INDIA
In India, the legal age to drink differs as per the state government. For states like Delhi, Maharashtra, Haryana, and Meghalaya it is 25 years. In Maharashtra, it is 25 years for consuming liquor like vodka, whiskey, rum, and other country-made liquor, and however, for Beer and wine, the drinking age is 21. States like Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Odisha have
For states like Goa, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, the legal drinking age is 18 years. And for states like Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland there is a total prohibition on consumption of alcohol.
REASONS FOR FAILURE
The rule made needs to be abided by. The execution is the duty of the state and following the same the duty of the citizens. There are various loopholes, and that is why this is not being followed. The purchase when made through a liquor shop, there nobody checks the identity proof to verify the age of the buyers, which signifies the lack of enforcement mechanism.
When youths below the legal age of alcohol consumption enter into some pub to celebrate some occasion, the bar or pub authorities often let go off the mandated regulation because of the hefty income they will make. This unchecks behavior of pub and bar officials and hefty pocket money of youth, is creating a situation of mismanagement.
Since there exists no stringent rules or regulation for manual or virtual checking of selling alcohol to a person underage, the rules even if existing are failing to create an impact. When rules are present, but there exists no punishments or penalties, then it is hard for the authorities to expect people to follow them.
This crisis has many missing blocks which are failing to complete the chain towards enforcement. It will be stupid and shameful if we adopt a defensive mechanism and ignore the matter or try to leave the matter unattended.
The authorities may not have encouraged the practice through their actions, but sadly they have not done enough even to discourage the underage drinking trend which is constantly growing with more and more people getting addicted to such bad influences and ruining their life and career.
The accountability lies on those who are failing to follow it. The responsibility of maintaining the integrity of this law lies with both serving alcohol to underage people and also those underage people who are consuming it even after legal disability. The state should make mandatory checking of identity proofs before serving alcohol. This is already an existing rule, but what is necessary is to work out upon its implementation. Lack of stringent regulation is creating a havoc situation and also increase in the drinking and driving cases in India. Minors are getting drunk regularly and indulging in crimes.
There is absolutely no regulation for minor punishment for underage alcohol consumption. However, the Punjab Excise Act, 1914, Section 29 makes selling or serving drinks to underage people can lead to a fine up to Rs. 500. Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 Section 18 states that Sale of Alcohol to minors is prohibited but attracts no penalties. Without the fear of punishment, why will anyone for that matter follow any rules?
Alcohol consumption’s legal age in India varies from state to state. The selling and serving of alcohol to underage are prohibited but attracts no penalty. Thus, it becomes difficult to abide by the same. It is extremely easy for any underage to procure alcohol in India. The responsibility is shared by the authorities, the youths, and the people involved in the Liquor Business. A uniform penalty must be implemented to help save the motive of the states and safeguard the youth.