Monday, September 26, 2011

Irrational drinking age

The recent proposal by the Government of Maharashtra, increasing the legal drinking age to 25 has left the media go bonkers. It baffles me why such a hue and cry? Is it going to deprive our youth some basic human right? Why is the government displaying such an immature attitude when it comes to set a legal drinking age?

In Europe, most countries allow youths to begin drinking in their teens. Italy, Portugal, Malta, Georgia and Luxembourg allow anyone over 16 to buy and drink hard liquor. Belgium, Germany, Holland, Austria and Switzerland have kept the legal drinking age Country for hard liquor at 18 but 16- UK year-olds are allowed to have US beer and wine, then why Indian, especially the Maharashtra Government- Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan feel that Indian YOUTH need to be more matured before they start drinking.

I wonder, why is the ability to consume alcohol being made to appear so important in the process of growing up , what amuses me is that no such debates happen when an education policy is being tampered with or about issues that are essential for the development of our youth. Further, it is really sad to note that even many well-educated persons allege that by this measure the Government seeks to control our lives. I fail to understand why waiting for four more years to legally consume alcohol should become such a great punishment for our youth? Like air, water and shelter is alcohol essential for growth? Why is this issue given so much of attention? Why is consumption of alcohol being made out to be so glamorous? Scientific research says that alcohol addiction happens more frequently amongst those who begin drinking in their teens. There is tremendous peer pressure to be ‘COOL’ or to be ‘RECOGNIZED’. So waiting for four more years to be legally consuming alcohol will not kill anyone. Many terrible accidents have occurred because young people were driving under the influence of alcohol.

The 2011 report says Teens are More Exposed to drug abuse, smoking because of peer- pressure, almost 14.6% youth aged between 13-15 are consuming tobacco. Teenagers go in there looking for fun, and when it gets to a certain pitch; they feel they can get away with anything, and they are getting away with drugs. They are getting sidetracked from their studies, bunk their schools and colleges to hang out with friends and take drugs. Anyways the point here is that why the Government thinks that the youth is not capable of handling themselves after drinking- if one is allowed to vote at the age of 18 why do they think that we cannot take right decisions after drinking.

On a very frank note, I would say the measure to rise the legal age for drinking may not be a sincere step by the Government of Maharashtra but the hue and cry raised by the Civil Society is dangerous and irresponsible and must be condemned in strong terms.

Youth is the time when one develops ones intellect, abilities, character and personality and alcohol helps in neither of these pursuits. So whether the drinking age is 25 or 18, the ones who want to consume alcohol can anyhow consume so why is the media and the Government hyping the issue to such a great extent.


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