In a country like India where food service has the highest market size after retail and insurance, there are few restrictions and law that is creating hindrance in vernacular growth of the industry.
“With an age limit of drinking at 25, the country allows its residents to get married at 21 years where he is not allowed to enjoy his own marriage,” pointed Riyaaz Amlani, President NRAI addressing the restaurant meet on Wednesday.
However, there are states like Goa, Sikkim, UP, Pondicherry, MP< Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh amongst others which is allowing people to drink at 18 years as these states have seen some great number of footfalls in terms of getting the tourists both nationally and globally.
Listening to the long pending impediments by the NRAI, Kapil Mishra, Tourism Minister, Delhi Govt has come out in support of the memorandum presented by NRAI President, Riyaaz Amlani, who showed the minister how global country have worked upon such legal issues promoting the growth of the restaurant industry which is a direct contributor in their GDP.
The minister also described the current policy on the age of drinking as "impractical" and unrealistic", Mishra said this was resulting in harassment of both consumers and owners of restaurants and bars. "When I looked at the list of states, I found Delhi as one of the few who have stuck to 25 years. Many BJP-ruled states too have adopted 21 years as the drinking age.”
Talking to the restaurant owners at NRAI 33rd AGM meet, the minister also supported restaurateurs on lowering the age of drinking in Delhi, promising them to create a smooth environment to run their restaurants in the capital city.
"I am against any law that is not in tune with reality. We have received complaints that restaurant owners are harassed by police due to this impractical rule of 25 years. Besides, consumers also feel under threat and still people younger than 25 continue to drink," the minister said.
However according to NRAI, among many proposals that the Delhi government is working on closely with the NRAI, Mishra’s comment on the drinking age reduction has caught the most attention. Yet, despite the controversy the tourism minister and his AAP government, are standing steadfast in their support to reduce the age limit, which in essence is a function of the Excise department.
A lower drinking age is also seen as a social issue, with critics linking it an increase in social incidents and drunken driving cases. “We at the NRAI are of the view that it’s better for those above 18 to drink in a controlled environment rather than in their homes, where excessive consumption is a possibility,” said Prakul Kumar, secretary general, NRAI.