03 November 2011
By Anshul Dhamija
Presidents, Prime Ministers, visiting heads of state, have unequivocally stated that India’s growth story lies in its youth. Well, they’re bang on the mark, albeit in a frothy way. For, that growth story is remarkably visible in the country’s Rs 50,700 crore alcoholic beverage market.
Indian teenagers, mainly in the age group of 15 to 19, are spurring the sales of alcohol in the country, with girls starting to have their first drink at the age of 15, reveals an Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) survey that was conducted by Assocham Social Development Foundation (ASDF).
“A significant but worrisome reason for increased liquor consumption is that boys and girls in their youth are resorting to drinking at a young age due to high disposable incomes, lack of parental supervision, changing society norms and peer pressure,” reads the survey. India’s alcoholic beverage market comprising beer, wine and spirits, which is clocking annual growth rates of 30%, will cross 19,000 million litres by 2015 from the current level of 6,700 million litres.
The survey revealed that each year, students spend Rs 3,500 to Rs 4,500 on alcohol, more than they spend on soft drinks, tea, milk, juice, coffee, movie tickets or books combined.
Data shows that 45% of 12th grade students in metropolitan cities consume alcohol excessively, at least five to six times in a month. Its results indicate an almost 100% increase in teenage drinking in the last 10 years.
In Bangalore, which is considered as the pub capital of India, pub and bar owners reveal that on weekdays, teenagers spend anywhere between Rs 300 and Rs 800 on alcohol, while on weekends they spend around Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000.
In fact, many pubs in the city have their happy hour timings (buy one drink, get one free) from 12 pm to 6 pm, keeping in mind the timings of the college-going kids.
“The high turnout of teenagers across pubs in city is primarily due to the lack of any other form of entertainment that the city has to offer,” opines Thashvin Muckatira, co-owner, Plan B, an American–styled pub located on Castle Street.
A city-based restaurateur, who didn’t wish to be named, told TOI, “On a Monday afternoon, I couldn’t get a place at a well-known pub in the city as it was full with college kids sipping their beers.”
“Statistical data projects that more and more young Indians are resorting to alcohol these days due to the growing liberated society, teenagers having more money than in the past, wide availability of brands to choose from,” said D S Rawat, secretary general, Assocham. ASDF’s survey, in which more than 2,000 teenagers in the age group of 15 to 19 were surveyed, states that 46% of the teens who admitted to drinking said they drink to "get high"; 32% said they drink when they are upset; 18% said they drink alone; and 15% said they drink when they are bored.
Rawat adds, “Family history of substance abuse, prenatal exposure to alcohol, poor parent-child relationships and inadequate parentchild communication, conduct disorders, rebelliousness, depression, anxiety, academic problems, positive attitudes about alcohol, stress and poor coping skills are also some of the factors that lead to teenagers taking to alcohol.” Specific to increasing parental exposure to alcohol, a pub owner in the city said, “recently we held a birthday bash for a 16-year-old of a very well to do family.”