Why is the legal drinking age 25 years in India?

Feb 17, 2017 12:15 PM | 5 min read | 24461 | Articles

Under Indian legal system, the voting age is 18, marriage age is 21 for boys and 18 for girls. But if we talk about drinking age, it differs state to state. While voting age is 18 but drinking age is still 25 in lot of states. These include Delhi, Chandigarh, Maharashtra (for drinks other than beer and wine), and Haryana etc. This implies that the people who framed these laws feel that a person is responsible enough to marry at the age of 18 (female) and 21 (male) but are not responsible enough to drink alcohol till 25 years of age.

It is still a question that what equips a person with the maturity required to vote a government to power at the age of 18 if he/she is not deemed fit enough to consume alcohol responsibly? There has been no concrete explanation this. The same person who can marry and bring new life into the world at a particular age can’t decide whether and how much alcohol he/she wants to consume at the same age? The law here needs some changes but that can take ages.

Few years back a PIL was filed by Bollywood actor Imran khan challenging the government's decision to set drinking age at 25.  The PIL said that the limit is "arbitrary, unreasonable and unjust". The court admitted the PIL saying the issue requires consideration but declined to allow an interim stay on the notification. The PIL challenged the notification which amends Rule 70-D of the Bombay Foreign Liquor Rules, 1953 under the Bombay Prohibition Act 1949 which increased the prescribed limit "for grant of permit for purchase, possession, transport, use and consumption of foreign liquor and country liquor from 21 years to 25 years."

Generally the explanation by government is that it saves lives of people drinking alcohol and others as well. People cannot always make the most rational decisions and these decisions could have detrimental permanent effects on the lives of one. According to studies one's brain does not completely develop until the age of 25. The mind has not fully formed its critical and rational thinking abilities. Alcohol consumption affect the brain, it also affects female maturation and reproduction abilities during adolescents. Other than that obvious negative health effects include liver and brain problems. It is indeed true and cannot be denied.

Now the question arises whether the government is able to stop people below 25 from consuming alcohol. Bars in Delhi have been illegally serving liquor to people below 25 years of age. It is well known that those in their late teens and early 20s purchase liquor at outlets and frequent bars with no restriction, in fact liquor companies make a conscious effort to target this age group through specific brands. So what’s the use of the said law. If there is no proper implementation of the same. It only encourages people to find ways to circumnavigate the law. Black market alcohol supplies, which may be harder to monitor.

The possible solution to the above mentioned problem can be education because education could help explain the dangers of excess drinking and therefore encourage young people to drink moderation. However, previous education policies have not seemed to be very effective. In addition to this, higher taxes increase the cost of alcohol and may have a significant effect in reducing demand amongst young people, who have lower disposable incomes.  If demand is reduced, this may reduce many of the problems of over-consumption. These solutions could be of little help to the society irrespective of the drinking age is at present.

Don’t get us wrong. We’re not saying drinking is a good thing. We’re just trying to say that if a person is smart enough to marry or vote at 18, s/he should be allowed to drink if they want. But if you’re not gonna let them drink till 25, why let them vote or marry?

THINK

By, 

Vidushi

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