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The second ThinkPad session on ‘ Responsible drinking and its far reaching impact’ was a hugely stimulating discussion. It dealt with sub-topics like ‘How do we address harm by alcohol & irresponsible drinking?’ and ‘Why can’t there be uniformity on legal drinking age in India?’ The session was moderated by Deepak Jolly, Founder-Consocia Advisory, and the  eminent panelists included BV Rao, Group Editor, TV9, Dr G V Rao, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, Pradeep Gidwani, industry veteran and Founder of The Pint Room, Anand Virmani, Co-founder, Nao Spirits & Beverages, and Minakshi Singh, Co-founder, Sidecar and Cocktail & Dreams.

Deepak Jolly set things in perspective when he said that most drinking in middle and upper echelons of urban India was based on car by the day and bar by the night. This caro- bar mentality depicts our prevailing mindset on alcohol consumption. He made a detailed presentation on how to deal with this conundrum since government measures to implement responsible drinking have not resulted in much traction. He also explained  how self regulation was the only way forward. He exposed the fault lines for which respective state governments are responsible.

One of the major constraints is the decision to decide the legal drinking age (LDA) among Indian citizens since it varies from state to state in our country. His survey also threw up interesting insights on how Kerala and Punjab, where alcohol consumption are the highest among the states, have high life expectancy. One of the major barriers to drinking responsibly is the archaic British laws which still continue in our statute books. He added that the initiative taken by Diageo on promoting road safety through responsible drinking was a step in the right direction.

Regulations need to be simple and standardised

“I think age restrictions pertaining to alcohol drinking in the country must change. For some states it is 18 and in some state it is 25. A man can marry at the age of 21 and you can get a driving license at the age of 18 but ironically, we have no uniform minimum age for drinking. Regulation is something which needs to be simple and be standardised across the country,” observed Pradeep Gidwani, Founder, The Pint Room.

“We are talking about one nation, one tax, then why can’t we have one nation, one legal drinking age,” he emphasised further.

He explained responsible drinking comes when we as individuals learn to control and manage ourselves and don’t cause harm to ourselves, others and society. Pradeep stated that responsible drinking could be spread across the country through disseminating education, carrying out self regulations and bringing in the right regulations. He was right in pointing out that “Promoting a right mindset change people’s perspective.”

“In European culture where a young kid sees his parents drinking openly and in control, he learns the essence of responsible drinking. He sees his parents drinking at social occasions like weddings, birthday parties, etc. and when he sees his parents drinking responsibly, the openness actually educates the child and puts it in his head that drinking is not bad as long as he can self-regulate,” elaborated Pradeep.

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