Kunal Banerjee (name changed), 16, had his first alcoholic drink last year. "I tried alcohol for the first time with my older brother. After I turned 16, my friends and I started drinking regularly at parties and outings," said the Class 11 student. "Most people drink more than they can control and do so primarily to get drunk. Also, girls drink almost as much as the boys do," he added.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Mumbai is second to Delhi-NCR in terms of the number of adolescents, who drink alcohol, followed by Chandigarh and Hyderabad.
The survey, which predicts that alcohol consumption in India will cross 19,000 million litres by 2015 from the current level of 6,700 million litres, attributes the growth to and increase in adolescent drinking.
The survey states that nearly half of all Class 12 students in metropolitan cities have taken to drinking due to "high disposable incomes, lack of parental supervision, changing society norms and peer pressure."
While 32% of the teens surveyed said they drink when they are upset, 18% drink when they are alone, 15% do so when they are bored and 46% said they drink to "get high".
In June, the state government had raised the age for drinking alcohol from 21 to 25. But that hasn't proved to be a deterrent. "Many of my friends drink once in two weeks. Everyone I know has at least tried it," said a Class 12 student from a Juhu school, who did not wish to be named. "Those who go out clubbing or partying more frequently end up drinking a lot more. Clubs and wine stores sell alcohol to anyone without asking for identification. There are some parents who do not mind when their children drink even at our age, but most remain unaware."