The Maharashtra government is seriously considering appointing Bollywood actor Aamir Khan as its anti-addiction ambassador. Aimed at pulling together all walks of life to fight alcohol, smoking and drug abuse, the state government had earlier planned to rope in veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan for the project. However, the government dropped the idea after the Big-B was appointed as the Gujarat tourism brand ambassador, which generated a lot of controversy.
The use of human-touch and self-modeling approach by the anti-drug ambassador can put direct and positive impact on youths and the community. The alcohol consumption has increased sharply and it led to deterioration of mental health and increase in crime rate in the state.
The Maharashtra minister for Social Justice Minister and De-Addiction, Shivajirao Moghe requested the chief minister to persuade Aamir Khan for the project. He also proposed at least half a per cent of the state’s revenue from liquor business for anti-addiction programme.
“The state earns excise duty to the tune of Rs 4,000-crore annually. So, if my proposal is accepted, the anti-addiction campaign would get at least 20-crore every year,” he said.
With its zero budget, the anti-addiction work in the state has come to a standstill. There is no manpower and counselling. Rehabilitation work is negligible, he rued.
Moghe, who hails from Yavatmal district in Vidarbha region where addiction to liquor has also contributed to financial distress among farmers, leading to high rate suicides. The minister believes that a firm policy needs to be formulated to wean people in the countryside away from addiction to drinking.
Heavy drinking has become a social scourge. Every day it is ruining thousands of families in villages in the backward region of Vidarbha as drinking invariably leads to domestic violence, quarrels and other crimes. It is common experience that law does not help. In districts, like Wardha and Gadchiroli where prohibition exists, liquor flows freely as implementing it is not a top-priority.
“There is an urgent need to change the mindset of the people. Large-scale campaigns and social drives need to be undertaken. But for all this an adequate budget is needed,” he Moghe insisted.
The minister hopes, if the state succeeds to appoint Aamir Khan as its Ambassador--who is now a role model for youths-- it will certainly inspire people to give up addiction. The campaign will be against of smoking, drinking, chewing of gutka and pan, snuff taking and drugs.