New Delhi: While people in India are considered mature enough to vote and drive at the age of 18, the Maharashtra government have raised the minimum drinking age in the state to 25 years for consumption of rum, whisky, vodka and country-made liquor. You can down a beer only after you turn 21. Incidentally, the minimum legal drinking age in two other Indian states of Haryana and Meghalaya is also the same.
In Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, you can buy alcohol or consume the same at a bar once you turn 21.
Kerala, Goa, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh consider 18 year olds good enough to handle alcohol.
Of course, in places like Gujarat and Mizoram, there is prohibition and one can’t buy booze legally, much to the delight of bootleggers.
Our neighbour Nepal fixes it at 24 while further north, China considers 18 year olds as good enough, so does Singapore. In Japan and South Korea, the minimum age to drink is 20 and 19 years respectively. In Pakistan, only non-Muslims over the age of 21 can drink. Drinking in most other Islamic countries in Asia is banned.
Almost all African countries except Egypt and Sudan also hold 18 year olds responsible enough to consume alcohol.
LATIN AMERICA, OCEANIA, EUROPE
Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, France, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia fix legal drinking age at 18.
In Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, a purchaser of beer or wine must be 16 years of age, and 18 years for spirits.
Germany's law is directed toward sellers of alcoholic beverages, not toward minors. German law vests control of the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the hands of parents and guardians.
In Italy and Portugal, 16 year olds can buy and drink or work in a place selling alcohol.
In the Scandinavian countries (except for Denmark), the legal drinking age is 18 years, but these rights are limited up to the age of 20.
In Iceland and Sweden, purchasers and possessors of alcoholic beverages must be 20 years of age, although 18 and 19 year olds are allowed to drink alcohol.
Also, in Sweden, 18 year olds can legally buy alcoholic beverages that are sold in grocery stores but not those that are sold in the state-run stores.
In Finland and Norway, the purchase and possession of alcoholic beverages that have up to 22 per cent alcohol volume is allowed from the age of 18 and for stronger drinks from 20. In Finland and Sweden (but not in Norway), drinks stronger than 22 per cent may be ordered in a restaurant from the age of 18.
In Denmark, the legal age for buying alcoholic beverages containing 1.2 -16.5 per cent alcohol is 16 years in shops and 18 years in bars and restaurants. However, possessing and consuming alcoholic beverages is legal at any age.
The Scandinavian countries have such varied and specific norms as historically, alcoholism has been a major problem there. Till date, in Sweden, the state-owned liquor shops shut down at 3 pm on pay days, so that people who come out of their workplaces after 4 pm don’t end up blowing up all the money at the shop.
In the United Kingdom, the minimum age to purchase alcohol is 18 years in a bar or off-licence establishment. However, in private, the minimum age to consume alcohol is 5 years. So one can pour his five-year-old son a strong peg of whisky as long as he has bought it himself and if it is his own home.
In England and Wales, persons over 16 may drink beer, wine, cider, or perry with a table meal if it is bought by an adult. In Scotland, the same rules apply. Shop workers under the age of 18 may not legally sell alcohol.
The legal age for buying and possessing (but not necessarily for drinking) has been 21 years in every state since shortly after the passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984, which tied federal highway funds to states' maintaining a minimum drinking age of 21.
Seventeen states (Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wyoming) and the District of Columbia have laws against possession of alcohol by minors, but they do not prohibit its consumption by minors.
Fourteen states (Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, and Virginia) specifically permit minors to drink alcohol given to them by their parents or by someone entrusted by their parents. Many states also permit the drinking of alcohol under the age of 21 for religious or health reasons.
Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, has maintained a drinking age of 18.
Barring a few states, India, the land of arak, todi and ruksi, and the US, the land of the bourbon and Bud, have some of the steepest drinking ages in the world. Not that it really matters. Underage drinking is a big problem in the US and on the streets of Aizawl, the capital of the Indian state of Mizoram where liquor is prohibited, you come across quite a few tipplers after 7 pm.