Fri, 12 Aug 2022

An Intoxicated Youth

Posted on Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Debak Das writes about the rising trend of alcohol consumption and smoking amongst college students today

Freedom to youngsters is a very touchy issue. With the end of school and the beginning of college life, independence becomes a double-edged sword. To most, this is the time when experimentation begins. In an attempt to resemble most ‘cool’ seniors smoking on campus and often drinking too, a confused school graduate sees it as a sign of having grown-up. So when a ‘dada’ (senior) asks, ‘Aaj hobe naki bhai?’ (Would u like to try some today?), an eager first year would take up the offer unhesitantly. In another common scenario, students often stay over at their friends’ place or over at the hostel and indulge in binges which though exhilarating are quite a danger to the health and this trend is just not confined to boys. Recent trends show that even girls are not lagging behind on the consumption front. Though this was once a taboo, these days it is not really a ‘shocking’ sight to spot girls drinking at pubs and other public places.
Although the recent ban on smoking has helped curb smoking on campus, drinking is still a persistent problem. Jayshree Mukherjee, head of the Department of History, Presidency College says, “This problem arises out of peer pressure and because of the lack of a disciplined routine in a college which is a definite change from the atmosphere in a school. However, in missionary colleges this is less of a problem.” A student of Ramkrishna Mission Narendrapur was once rusticated for smoking on campus, she said, thus enforcement of rules helps curb these activities on campus at least.
Often students, who come from financially sound backgrounds or earn extra pocket money, use drinking as a good form of entertainment. “College students, regardless of whether they are guys or girls, are not really hard drinkers, it is just fun to sit and chat over a peg every now and then—it makes interesting people more fun!” says Sayan Bhattacharya, a student of Presidency College.
In spite of many allegations that pubs and bars still serve underage students, Ansarul Haque, the manager of Olypub (quite a popular joint with young college-goers) says, “We are quite strict about the regulations and while we recognise college students by their bags, we do not allow students below 21 years of age to drink. But even then, students who do come in consume light alcoholic drinks like vodka and beer, not rum or whisky.”
“I do not believe that girls drink more nowadays. But it is true that girls are found drinking more openly in public now nonetheless, these are mostly vodka-based cocktails and aqua blue drinks and not really hard drinks!” says Upasana Ghosh, a student of St Xavier’s College.
Despite the rising trend of ‘beer-bellies’ popping up in college canteens, there are many students who are health conscious and do not drink in spite of the peer pressure involved. It is also true that alcohol in moderation is tolerable as long as youngsters know their limits and are aware of the health hazards involved. Mukherjee, however, thinks that this can be avoided by proper awareness and this has to be spread by schools and colleges through posters, signboards, seminars and lectures.


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