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Social drinking fine but should come with responsibility


NEW DELHI: Do you see the recent decision to stop issuing of new liquor licences for not just vends but even restaurants as a regressive step that sends out a wrong message to people, especially a large section of the urban youth who see eating out and social drinking a part of life?

I don’t think the decision has had a negative impact. We have not stopped anything that was already there. Renewals are happening. All that has been done is that the government has stopped issuing of new licences for now as it was felt that the existing licences are enough. Even the crackdown on people drinking in the open outside liquor vends is aimed at ensuring safety and creating a comfortable atmosphere for the public. I feel people understand the sentiment behind the government’s policy .

Social drinking is now a way of life for many. How can a balance be achieved between safe drinking and a sense of safety for people who may not be drinking?

No one can deny that social drinking is a reality with certain sections seeing it as part of their routine which was not the case earlier. I would like to reiterate that our government is not against social drinking. The steps taken so far only reflect that we are not trying to stop social drinking but only want to ensure that those who drink must do so responsibly and not get drunk and lose control. Here, we also expect the service providers to be responsible.Like it happens abroad, here too the service providers should try to come up with measures to make the customers feel responsible -like fixing the maximum number of drinks that a person may be allowed to take or ensuring that if someone has got drunk, the restaurant arranges for a drop for the person to prevent drunk driving and accidents. The government has no problem with social drinking as long as it is done responsibly.

Then why not allow social drinking in open spaces like terraces and corridors, like it happens abroad? Do you think the government would be open to giving licences for such facilities in the long run?

I can only comment on this as a young Delhiite who is now also a minister of tourism. No government should control social change and its dynamics. We should allow the market to evolve and the demand will become evident if it comes from people and accordingly the policy will take shape. I am not saying whether the government will allow licences to restaurants to serve liquor in the open or not at some stage; all that I am saying is that instead of debating whether restaurants should be allowed to serve liquor in open areas, we should allow the market to evolve on its own. The demand will decide how future policies will take shape. As far as social drinking is concerned, first people who drink and the service providers have to be responsible.

What is your view on a liquor ban? What do you think of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar‘s move to declare Bihar a dry state?
Let me first say that Delhi will never go the Nitish Kumar will never go the Nitish Kumar way . Delhi’s character and profile is such that I would like to say here that the word ban should be banned. No ban can work here. Delhi is an amalgamation of various cultures and people from all over India.

Delhi lacks a night life and there are many views on how it is difficult to create an environment for night life due to safety issues. What are your views?

 I feel night life is very important for creating a sense of public safety. Also night life does not just mean eating and drinking out late. For me, night life is about people visiting night bazaars, haats and melas freely. The tourism department is exploring various possibilities. An idea we are working on is organising a mela at night at Dilli Haat for women to send out a strong message that women can feel safe by themselves at night in Delhi.
Source: Times of India