Every second 12th grader in Delhi is drinking —because they can afford to. Increased pocket money has emerged as the major reason why 45% of 16 to 17 year olds in metros are able to drink regularly.
A study by Assocham shows that a third of all teenagers have had their first drink before they go to college, paying for this out of money their parents have given them. Teenagers’ pocket money has increased in the past 10 years from an average of Rs.300 in 2000 to Rs.1800 in 2010.
“The average monthly pocket money of kids has seen a jump of 550%,” says DS Rawat, Secretary General, Assocham. Every fourth teenager who took part in the study said their pocket money increases every year, while 6% said that it goes up more than four times a year.Parents say peer pressure may be behind the increase. Nita Khanna, mother of a 16-year-old says, "Though my son’s pocket money is Rs.500 per week, he also has a kids advantage debit card with a spending limit of Rs.2,500, because kids these days are under a lot of peer pressure. I do my best to keep a track of what he’s spending on, but it’s not always possible."
Teenagers say alcohol is also easily available to them. “We can go to any theka and they don’t even ask for ID proof. A bottle of beer only sets us back by Rs.50, that’s equal to one mobile recharge card, to tell the parents! Even lounge bars have no qualms serving us when we go clubbing,” says Suchit Goel, 16.
About 45% of those polled said their parents are unaware of what they did in their spare time. “I spend my pocket money at the beauty parlour, but my boyfriend spends his on drinks,” says Essha Mehta, 17. “They have more money, more time, more resources. This is not surprising. Even when I was 17, though I got just Rs.1000 a month, I still managed to buy beer for parties,” says Azeem Singh, 22.
Some names have been changed on request.