Legal drinking age in India?

A report in the Times of India states that in Delhi anyone over the age of 21 can serve drinks at bar and restaurants in the state due to new legislation, but they still cannot legally drink until they turn 25! I am not saying that the validity of this ludicrous law has any real-world implications, but it is amusing when you consider the fact that in India, anyone 18 or older can vote. In addition, women and men can get legally married at the ages of 18 and 21, respectively.

If you are visiting India and are worried about the law, rest assured. No one will ask you your birth-date when you ask for a pint. Businesses don’t care, and the police are happy to look in the other direction. Most Indians don’t have any form of valid identification, and those that do, seldom carry these documents when they go out drinking.

In addition, when it comes to consumption of alcohol, there seems to be no consistency at all. Different states in India have different laws and the minimum drinking age varies anywhere from 18 to 25. From what I can tell, two states have banned the consumption of alcohol completely.

দেশী মদের দোকানে বয়েস দেখে?

West Bengal is not one of them though. In the state of West Bengal, the Department of Excise licenses, taxes, and regulates the consumption of alcohol. The website of the Department is primarily concerned with providing information to those who want to apply for coveted liquor licenses. I searched long and hard but could find no display of the legal drinking age in West Bengal anywhere on the site.

Curiously, the primary legislation  in the state is still the Bengal Excise Act of 1909. This 100 year-old Act from the days of the British Raj dictates alcohol distribution, consumption, and taxation in the state.

Nonetheless, there is a wealth of information on alcohol consumption in West Bengal on the website. Consumption of “intoxicants” increased by an amazing 50% from the 2003-2004 reporting year to 2007-2008.

It is pretty obvious that whatever the laws on drinking might be in the state, people seem to be pouring their drinks fast and furiously!

© 2009-2011, Anirban


11 thoughts on “Legal drinking age in India?

  1. Brilliant post stuffed with blunt information.And the picture is priceless. Where did you find it? You are absolutely right. There is no way that your ID is checked when you go out drinking in India. For that matter – it is not even asked for when you go to buy alcohol.Great stuff !! BTW …have been catching up on your older posts.Bravo.

    1. Thanks so much for reading. I was really curious about this because this is such a big deal in Western countries.

      I took the picture myself a few years ago. 😉

      Thanks for reading. Hope to increase the standard of posts in the future.

  2. This legal age thing is bull. Most youngsters start drinking when they’re 16 or so…how can anyone expect this 25 yr thing to work? It has no meaning..

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