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Last Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005, 14:33 GMT
Delhi drinking age to stay at 25
By Geeta Pandey
BBC News, Delhi

Indian drinker
The official drinking age was set by an Act in 1914
You can vote and get married at 18 in India's capital, Delhi, but you cannot drink alcohol.

Now the capital's governing cabinet has deferred a decision on a proposal to lower the drinking age from 25 to 21.

The draft excise policy for 2006, which has been cleared by the Delhi cabinet and will be announced later this week, remains silent on the issue.

In almost all other major Indian cities, alcohol can be served to those aged 21 or over.


An official of the Delhi excise department told the BBC that it had put forward the proposal to lower the drinking age to 21.

But, he said, the government had refused to take it up.

The official said there were political reasons behind the move - the government does not want to be seen to be promoting alcohol consumption among the young.

The official drinking age was set by an Act in 1914 and those in favour of the change say the laws are archaic and need to be rationalised.

Young people in Delhi say the state administration's decision to stick to the higher age limit is unrealistic.

It is widely known that not many wait until they turn 25 to enjoy a drink.

One 16-year-old girl told the BBC the age restriction was a mere formality.

"A lot of my friends drink at 15 or 16," she said. "We are allowed into pubs and bars and we can always get alcohol."

The new excise policy does have some cheerful news - imported beer brands will now be cheaper as the duty is being significantly reduced.

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