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India: AAP minister supports lowering drinking age in Delhi

India: AAP minister supports lowering drinking age in Delhi


The Times of India

By Ambika Pandit,TNN

September 25, 2015

NEW DELHI: Echoing the long-standing demand to bring down the age of drinking, tourism minister Kapil Mishra on Wednesday came out in support of reducing it from 25 years to 21. Mishra said this while addressing a meet of restaurant owners in the capital.


Describing the current policy on the age of drinking as “impractical” and unrealistic”, Mishra said this was resulting in harassment of both consumers and owners of restaurants and bars. “When I looked at the list of states, I found Delhi as one of the few who have stuck to 25 years. Many BJP-ruled states too have adopted 21 years as the drinking age,” the minister claimed making a political point to set-up a counter attack to any possibility of criticism on the matter from opponents.


Mishra told TOI that if National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) makes the demand as part of a report on recommendations sought by them, then the tourism department will take up the matter with the government. “Currently this is my opinion on the subject, but if NRAI makes the demand officially then I will take up the matter with the government and explore possibilities,” he said.


“I am against any law that is not in tune with reality. We have received complaints that restaurant owners are harassed by police due to this impractical rule of 25 years. Besides, consumers also feel under threat and still people younger than 25 continue to drink,” the minister said. Countering a question on whether he was trying to promote drinking, Mishra said, “Let me tell you I don’t drink. The reason for supporting lowering of drinking age is only that this law is resulting in more harassment than regulation.”


The excise department is also in the midst of easing norms for restaurants and the license regime. A report is shortly expected on the matter, sources said. The measure is part of the Kejriwal government’s decision to create a business environment that makes “ease of doing business” a reality.


Earlier, the Sheila Dikshit government had floated a plan to review the age and bring it down to 21 with some even seeking it be reduced to 18 years. However, after a prolonged debate and political tug-of-war with BJP in opposition, Congress decided to drop the plan.


Now, Mishra has opened a new chapter on the drinking age. How the government responds to the demands of the industry and its own minister’s assertion on the subject is yet to be seen.


Times View


The minister is absolutely right when he says that 25 is an unreasonable age at which to allow young adults to consume alcohol. This newspaper has repeatedly urged that it be reduced to 18. After all, if you are old enough to decide who should run the country and to drive at that age, or to get married if you are a woman, how can it be argued that you are not mature enough to