Too many sips, too early!

Underage drinking is a major cause for worry in the City

The victims of the recent Mangalore incident may or may not have been minors or intoxicated. But not too far away, in our own city of Bangalore, which is called the ‘Liquid City’ by its people, underage drinking is a major cause of worry.

There are several pubs near Brigade Road which are hubs for youngsters.

During the recent raids on pubs and restaurants selling alcohol in the City, over a 100 minors below the age of 21 were caught consuming alcohol, taken to the police station and instructions were given to owners and managers of those places to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at the entrances. But in reality, nothing can stop
minors from getting their hands on alcohol if they really want it.

“I started drinking when I was 16 and back then, we never partied as such but just had drinking sessions with a small group. When house parties and clubbing started, I’d drink just enough to make me lose my dancing blues,” says 19-year-old Abhay (name changed).

“I’ve always been a sensible drinker — I don’t drink and drive, I make sure I have a place to crash if I go out drinking and most importantly, I usually have someone sober around to look after me if I’m getting drunk,” he adds.

He points out that this trend has trickled down to students of a younger age. “I see my juniors in class nine throw house parties like we do now. I’ve seen cases of alcohol poisoning and it can happen to anyone who doesn’t have a grip on what they are doing,” shares the honest student.

Of course, not every minor in this City is an alcoholic who loves defying the law.
 “I’ve just never felt the need to be intoxicated and completely unaware of things around me,” says Sourabh Rander, a minor who has only tried sips of his friends’ drinks all his life.
“My friends have tried to mix alcohol in my drink as a prank sometimes and it’s tempting to just give in when I see everyone around me doing it. But call it willpower or focus, I haven’t succumbed. Besides, it’s the taste that disgusts me,” he adds. 

Koramangala, Brigade Road, Church Street and M G Road are a few of the popular areas where youngsters often meet up over a drink. Small thekas and boutique stores  make alcohol easily accessible to minors.

But other than a few places like Firangi Paani and ‘Guzzlers Inn’, nobody bothers asking for identity proof from teenagers who walk in and out of the pubs with guilt-free ease.
“We have had a strict policy of not allowing minors in since we opened up this place,” says Kuber Singh, owner, ‘Guzzlers Inn’.

“There is security outside the pub from morning to evening. We do see underage kids trying to come in every now and then but we do an identity check and send them away.”
For some of the young adults who have gone through the same process, there is a rationale to the law.

“I drink, and I am fairly libertarian about personal freedom. However, it’s a reasonable restriction to dictate that each individual needs to be mature enough to make that choice. The minor is deprived of rights but also shielded from liability,” says Varun Rajiv, a young lawyer in the City.

While accidents due to drunk driving are the most common problem of underage drinking, overdose, violence and various forms of abuse have also been linked to alcohol use.

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