The recent incident of a 21-year-old Panjab University student allegedly misbehaving with the cops under the influence of alcohol has sparked many a debate.
These debates have also brought to light the fact that this was not a one-off incident — youngsters are increasingly falling prey to under-age, unsupervised drinking, on-campus and off. What incites the trend of drinking in students — as revealed by experts and reiterated by the latest incident — are piles of personal problems, peer pressure and pent-up frustration. HT City talks to experts from the city to know about healthy, pragmatic mediums to deal with such problems.
Dr Gurpinder Singh Samra, principal, Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, suggests including psychological counselling as a part of the academic syllabi, as he explains, “There is a certain frustration in today’s youngsters; a misdirected surplus energy that needs to find direction. There is also an urgent need of keeping today’s youth connected to Indian values and teachings. The introduction of psychology capsules or lessons in the syllabus would help youngsters comprehend their life and problems better.”
Dr Prabhdeep Brar, assistant professor, University Institute of Fashion Technology (UIFT), says, “A deeper bonding, beyond the classroom for students and teachers should be a mandate. They should meet up in informal settings, a picnic, movie or an outing, for example, once a month, to talk about anything but studies. This will break the ice in their otherwise formal relationship, resulting in students reaching out to their teachers in time of need.”
A Panjab University hostel warden, on the condition of anonymity, shares, “Students come up to me with their problems, and together we find a solution. But, for those who can’t, I think yoga and meditation are good mediums to maintain a balance in life. In today’s crazy life, spirituality is needed to keep us grounded.”
Professor Rana Nayar, Department of English, believes that youngsters need to discuss their problems with experts. “Youngsters’ problems have many reasons, including parental neglect, peer pressure, loneliness, the need of fitting-in and the constant need to do something different in life. To top it all, they don’t have a support system to fall back on. No institution offers professional counsellors for youngsters. So, they end up dealing with their problems in their own twisted ways,” he says.
Offering a solution, he adds, “There should be a counsellor in every department, and once a month, they should hold an open session where students discuss their problems openly.”
Practising psychologist Rajshree Sarda, who runs her helpline in Panchkula, analyses, “Problems of this nature arise when there is a void in a person’s life and that person finds no source of gratification. Parents should give their children healthy freedom, because when they suddenly get freedom on growing up, staying in hostels, the probability of them being misled increases. Youngsters then turn to alcohol/drugs for easy gratification. What they really need is some sound guidance.”
“Most youngsters, living on a budget, can’t afford counsellors. So, it becomes the duty of every department to appoint a government-funded counsellor and psychologist, with a 24-hour helpline.”
Unplug from virtual world
Rajesh Gill, chairperson, Department of Sociology, PU, avers, “While students believe they’re being more ‘social’ by getting hooked onto social networking sites, they don’t realise how they’re drifting away from reality. They think they have friends, because of their endless virtual friend lists, but in reality, they end up becoming isolated.
The availability of internet round the clock is also to blame. The solution lies in changing our social and educational system. There also is a need for parents and teachers to give their children some extra attention.”