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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

डॉ. अभय बंग यांनी निर्माण परिवारातील सर्वांना खालील लेख वाचण्याची शिफारस केली आहे:


[Excerpts from India Today - 2 July 2012] 
UNDER AGE DRINKING
Problem drinking is on an upsurge.
by Damayanti Datta

 Youngistan’ is talking bottles, pegs, pints and shots with the ease of seasoned drinkers, raising a toast to everything: Birthdays to cricket matches, before and after exams, to stave off boredom or the blues. In a country known for abstinence, the age-old notions of who drinks what, where, when and why are changing dramatically.

And the adult world is on the warpath: Alcohol products are not to be sold to minors, held the Himachal Pradesh High Court on June 13. In April, a study presented at the World Congress of Cardiology in Dubai revealed that alcohol consumption was three times higher among Indian youngsters watching movies where protagonists drank freely. On cue came a directive from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC),that movies needed to display a statutory warning scroll against drinking and smoking during every scene that showed it. On June 17, however, Leela Samson, chairperson of CBFC, announced that a warning should be displayed at the beginning and after the intermission of the movie.

It hardly matters to young tipplers. There's early experimentation, more binge drinking (bouts of heavy drinking in very short time), high levels of fiesta drinking and a greater acceptance of social drinking, explains Dr G. Gururaj of NIMHANS, Bangalore, an epidemiologist who has been charting alcohol's impact through the decade. A 2009 survey on 2,000 teenagers by apex trade body Assocham shows there has been a 60 per cent rise in alcohol consumption among the 19-26 age group in the last five years. Over 45 per cent of metro teenagers drink five to six times a month, while 70 per cent drink on social occasions. In November 2011, yet another Assocham survey found a 100 per cent rise in drinking among the 15-18 age group in the last 10 years.

"The greater problem these days is not alcoholism but problem drinking, which affects 20 per cent of users and makes them aggressive," says psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty of Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai. That's exactly why students of iit-Delhi hit the headlines in 2011. They were expelled from the IIT-Kanpur fest for disorderly behaviour due to excessive drinking. There has been a legitimisation of alcohol at the dinner table, explains Shetty: "Young people see their dads offering drinks to guests, moms drinking at kitty parties. Children as young as 12 or 13 have Bacardi Breezers at stay-over nights." The latest World Health Organisation Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health shows that India is facing an alcoholic tide, pushed up by the sliding age of drinking. From 28 in the 1980s, it has come down to age 15 now. In some metro pockets, it's believed to have come down to 13.
Dr Samir Parikh, Chief Psychiatrist at Max Healthcare, Delhi, and his team were taken aback by the results of a survey they carried out among 1,000 boys and girls from top public schools across the capital two years back. While 22 per cent thought having one drink at parties is something everyone does, for 16 per cent being "cool" meant having three to four drinks. "Drinking seems to be quite the normal thing among the 13-17 age group,"hesays    

  • Coming out of the woodwork are Happy Hour Kids in metros. With cafes and fast-food restaurants serving beer, pubs and bars slating early evenings as cheaper Happy Hour, alcohol is within easy reach, after school or before tuition.
  • A disturbing nationwide problem visible now is the marked increase in alcohol consumption among girls and young women.
  • Most schools are reluctant to admit it, but classroom drinking is in. This June, three schoolgirls were suspended from KB Patel Gujarati Vidhyalaya in Indore for swigging vodka on the sly from water bottles in class. They were caught after one girl vomited in class.
  • College students in Lucknow sneak off for a nip or two of "angrezi sharab" with fried paneer in the air-conditioned cool of model shops, or government-consecrated watering holes dotted along the highways. Drinking starts at noon till late at night, with daily brawls, and even murders.
  • Drunken driving has become a menace off the dark lanes of Prenderghast Road in Secunderabad, with students and techies binging out on cheap alcohol at the 'car-o-bars'. As the police barely monitor these areas, they have a couple of quick drinks in their cars before stepping in to shake a leg during the weekends.
  • Live cricket on giant screen at pubs and bars, with kebabs, cocktails, beer, tattoos, face painting and team merchandise has spawned yet another new drinking ritual in metros. The 2011 Assocham survey showed even teenagers double their alcohol intake during cricket matches.
  • Creative ways of sneaking in alcohol are already trendy among the youth. There's also the hookah lounge in metros. The flavoured hookah often has alcohol as base, especially vodka or wine.
A rapport with bouncers or managers of the bars often works.  Underage drinkers start with fast-selling, easy-on-the-pocket pop wines, where alcoholic content is about twice as much as beer but disguised by fruity flavours. They then move on to much stronger drinks, vodka being the top choice. According to a 2010 survey by the Community Against Drunken Driving on 1,000 youngsters in Delhi, a third of 16-18-year-olds drink at pubs and bars.
Maharashtra has upped the drinking age bar for hard liquor to 25, setting off a storm of protests in Bollywood, led by young actor Imran Khan. Sachin Ahir, minister of state for social justice, insists the measure is not to "question anyone's maturity, only to protect them". The minimum legal drinking age in Haryana and Meghalaya is 25, while in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, one can buy alcohol once they are 21. Kerala, Goa, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh consider 18-year-olds good enough to handle alcohol.

"Drinking is not going to come down that way," says Sukesh Shetty, secretary of ahar, the umbrella body of over 7,500 bars, restaurants and permit rooms in Mumbai. Actor Mouli Ganguly, 27, feels such rules lend themselves to misuse: "People rebel. It will just drive the demand for covert drinking".

A disturbing trend is early drinking among girls and young women. "There has been a marked increase in alcohol consumption among them," says Dr Achal Bhagat, senior consultant of psychiatry at the Apollo Indraprastha Hospital in Delhi. Most are strongly influenced by males in the family, she says. "It's one of the outcomes of being encouraged to do the things that boys do," says Samita Sen, director of the School of Women's Studies at Jadavpur University in Kolkata. "Girls like to make a statement, just like boys."
Young working women typically start to drink due to peer pressure, say experts. Dr Samir Parikh,  says, "Young people do not realise that even an occasional use can result in regular use, as the biological effect of alcohol has its own role to play."  Mukta Puntambekar, deputy director of Muktangan Rehabilitation Centre, Pune, is not surprised: "Even a breezer with 4 per cent alcohol is enough to pull a person into problem drinking or alcoholism," she says.

"It used to take 10 years for a social drinker to become an addict earlier. Today it takes just two," says Fr Joe Pereira, founder of the Mumbai-based Kripa Foundation, one of the first de-addiction centres in India. He would know. He sees enough young alcohol users and abusers: Boys, girls and young adults from privileged backgrounds and globalised tastes. A new study in May 2012 by the Public Health Foundation of India measured alcohol occurrence in 59 Bollywood movies and the impact on almost 4,000 teenagers. When asked if they had seen these movies, those who did were found to be nearly three times more likely to have tried alcohol compared to those who did not.
It's a new landscape that's staring India in the face. One that's likely to unleash a flood of suffering in the near future. Will someone wake up and smell the liquor?

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