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New Drinking Laws in India: Irrational?

November 18, 2012

In case you didn’t know, last year Maharashtra passed a new drinking law. A law causing lots of discussion and division. A law creating criminals out of young drinkers. A law adorned by a few, loathed by more than a few and mocked by many (and you should know, the mockers don't necessarily live in Maharashtra).

In Maharashtra (and Delhi too) you must be 21 to consume beer, and 25 to consume liquor. And if you live, or visit the Wardha district, you have to be 30 years of age to drink. Past laws limited 18 year-olds to alcohol, and didn't permit liquor consumption until the ripe age of 21.

Is it working?

The question at this point, more than a year later, is "Is It Working?" Are these strict laws making an impact on India?

The broad, and short answer to this questions is, well, it’s hard to tell at this point.

Often, extreme laws like Maharashtra's drinking law seem to do little more than increase black marketing, and job security for police and social justice officers.

Many Dehli and Maharashtra alcoholics, and social drinkers responded by going elsewhere for alcohol, risking the acquirement of alcohol illicitly, or resorting to a secretive lifestyle. Not necessarily abstaining from alcohol.

Social justice minister, Shivajiuao Moghe spoke about the new laws and told oneindianews that, "Maturity comes at 25 when an individual can make informed decisions. There is no reason to withdraw the decision.” It doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon.

But Maghe’s assertion can be taken one of two ways:

  1. Irrational – Shivajiuano defines maturity as the ability to make informed decisions. But how much information about alcohol is there? Really. Because information is limited, this prospective would declare the new law is irrational.
  2. Rational – Something radical had to be done to curb the influence of alcohol in Maharashtra and Dehli. This prospective would dub the law as rational, reasonable and probably neccesary.

Should I drink? The "Informed Decision"

One of the pillars of alcohol related problems in India is a lack of information about the dangers of alcohol. Because of this, some may say that laws limiting alcohol use shouldn’t be structured around the idea of “informed decisions.”

So the real issue here isn’t when people will start drinking; but instead, how can we stop them from starting? The obvious answer is, tell them what they’re getting themselves into.

De-addiction drives do this, the government can do this, educational systems can do this, but if the standard/ conception and dangers of alcohol isn’t well defined within the walls of your home, the impact and social acceptance of alcohol isn’t going to change.

So if you haven’t already, sit down with your family, and talk about alcohol.

Just Stop It!

But maybe the law is necessary. Perhaps it will do more than promote sneaky lifestyles and provide job security for police forces in the effected areas.

The extreme stance the law takes in Maharashtra simply shouts at the public: “Just stop it!”, “Cut it out!”, “Stop hurting your family with your decisions”, and “We’re just sick of it!”

Of course the ideal response is for the people of the effected areas to abstain from alcohol until “maturity.”

Will it work? Maybe. Eventually. Well… time will tell.

What do you think? Are the new Drinking Laws a positive change to India’s addictive climate? Leave us a comment below: