Mankind’s flirtations with alcohol and other intoxicants are almost as old as mankind. This is probably true across civilizations, cultures and ages. The ill effects of overuse are known, chronicled and researched, but the affair continues. Draconian measures imposed by leaders of society have had a temporary curbing effect, but given rise to some other problems. Teachers frown at it, institutions ban it, parents worry about their children imbibing it, but youngsters continue to experiment with alcohol. Some students flirt briefly with alcohol and retract; others treat it as a rite of passage or wish to exercise their adult choice. Others continue but remain in control all their lives. Unfortunate ones are those who succumb to the siren song of alcohol and it is downhill all the way.
The ethical question on alcohol is debated upon but not agreed to. If it is totally evil, ban it. But it is not to be. Other than countries that proscribe alcohol on stringent religious norms, not one country has been able to ban it. So there will be shops with bottles of alluring shapes and bars with alluring ambience. The question therefore, is it worth starting with alcohol, if at all? If started, where to stop? How much is enough?
Young drinkers are of several species. There’s the I-can’t-say-no-to-people kind, the I-love-the-high-and-don’t-wanna-get-down kind, there’s also the kind that think they aren’t cool in other aspects so why not drink and be cool.
Drinking offers several advantages; there’s the thrill of breaking a rule, of thinking that people look at you like a grown-up, of getting the license to act completely uninhibited because you “are drunk”.
“What’s the fun in drinking unless you are ‘out’?” says one young man.
“Consuming alcohol gives me confidence”, says another.
“Drinking is accepted in professional circles, so before I go out-there, I should be comfortable with it.”
Reasons abound. The question however remains, how much is an excess and how it should be controlled. Alcohol consumption among youth has shown a rising trend. The average age across the country has fallen from 19 to 14 in just the past decade. Before I have the skeptics in Kgp going, “not here,” I would ask them to reconsider. The relationship of youth and alcohol has been one which many people haven’t understood yet. To impose laws that would completely prevent a young man from trying it out during his college stay would definitely make him lose out on something. He would never know if not drinking alcohol was a personal choice or not. But to let it go completely unbridled is not living up to the duties of a society. Here in campus there is no system in place that checks excess of alcohol among the youth. Nobody is looking at excess alcohol consumption as a problem. Of course if the institute gets down to it, it can completely put an end to alcohol consumption but everyone would agree that, that is not the way to go about it.
Responsible students should be the ones keeping a tab on their friends. It shouldn’t be un-cool to say “that’s it for tonight.” Hall presidents should mark out those who have a drinking problem atleast among his juniors and talk to them, a professional counselor wouldn’t be half as effective. Restaurants and bars around campus should try to enforce some sort of age limit.
Every step of the institute in this direction is seen as ‘draconian’ by the students, and every student seen drinking is seen as one breaking a rule, clearly there is a big gap that needs to be bridged here. It is time both students and the institute identify the problem and get down together to work on it. Otherwise we just have two groups working in opposition rather than in unison.