Pramod-Kumar
Pramod-Kumar

Build consensus to curb drug abuse

Drug abuse has acquired a new currency in politics. Isn’t it interesting that after more than three decades of using drugs to woo voters, politicians have now realised that the noises against drug abuse can get them more political dividends? Hence, each one is trying to outcompete the others in the blame game.
By Pramod Kumar | None, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2015 09:31 AM IST

Drug abuse has acquired a new currency in politics. Isn’t it interesting that after more than three decades of using drugs to woo voters, politicians have now realised that the noises against drug abuse can get them more political dividends? Hence, each one is trying to outcompete the others in the blame game.

Drug abuse and drug trade are secular and above political affiliations, having no religion, caste or creed. The abuse affects human life irrespective of the person’s status or position in society. Drug abuse and trade have not only survived but also flourished historically in all political regimes. Therefore, to attribute its prevalence to a particular political party or individual is to ensure its longevity.

Blame game, lip service

The wide-ranging debate initiated by Hindustan Times, besides other initiatives, stressed the need to build consensus in politics to combat the drug menace. And, most of the political leaders, after blaming each other, paid lip service to building political consensus.

At the same time, they contested each others’ claim about the enormity of the problem by giving numbers. There is no scientific data available on the number of addicts in Punjab as most of the studies conducted were on drug addicts. In 2001, the study conducted by Dr Neerja and Vasudha Goyal of the Institute for Development and Communication, with a sample size of 4,335 addicts, observed that 79% of the drug addicts were youths. Similar studies done by PS Verma (2010) with a sample size of 1,527 addicts and RS Sandhu (2013) with a sample size of 600 addicts, mentioned that around 73% of the drug addicts were youths. From these studies, it was erroneously inferred as if 70% of the youths of Punjab were drug addicts. However, it is not to deny the enormity of the problem. Even if less than 10% are affected by drugs, enormity and seriousness of the problem cannot be underplayed as it affects human life.

Stigmatisation of addicts

In HIV/Aids campaigns, it was propagated that truckers were more vulnerable to Aids and, thus, they were targeted. As a consequence, truckers and their families got stigmatised and many of them complained that people stopped marrying into their families. Similarly, attempts to isolate the Punjabi youth and project them as drug addicts also leads to their stigmatisation.

Being a complex problem, it requires a comprehensive and in-depth study to capture the extent of addiction to psychoactive substances. The United Nations’ guide on Alcohol and Drug Addiction stressed the need to capture various stages of substance abuse. For instance, the first stage is experimentation in which the person does not actively seek out drugs; the second is social or recreation in which the person takes drugs on events. The third stage is where the person becomes habitual. In the fourth stage, the person continues to use drugs in spite of the negative consequences on his or her life. The fifth stage is drug addiction in which the person loses control of himself or herself to drugs. To club all these stages for formulating any intervention strategies is fraught with danger.

Regional context

Drug trade and drug abuse have their own dynamics. Drug trade has international dimensions, regional context and local sites. Punjab is a transit route for the international drug trade. Heroin is smuggled from across borders as part of the Golden Crescent Triangle. It originates from Afghanistan to its final destinations in the US, Europe and Canada. It has its regional context, as drugs such as opium, poppy husk, charas and ganja are traded from the states of Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan etc. And for the misuse of prescription drugs, such as tablets, syrups and injections, the same are supplied by some chemists and peddlers.

Govt crackdown

In view of these varied sources of drug supply, a composite plan has to be launched. The recent crackdown by the Punjab government has led to the registration of more than 14,000 FIRs under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act with 80% conviction rate as compared to other drug-affected states such as Goa and Maharashtra, where only nominal cases were registered with low conviction rates.

This initiative alone may not bring the desired results as seizures of drugs lead to scarcity, increased prices of drugs, and bribes and also have a ‘balloon effect’. As reported in The Economist (May 24, 2014), “the squashing down on illicit activity in one place causes it to pop up somewhere else.” It adds that the ‘balloon effect’ also operates among consumers – as consumption of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine, ketamine and mephedrone are multiplied. In fact, the seizures of these drugs have already led to the addition of 348 psychoactive substances. No doubt, there is a need to check illegal supply of drugs, but the prohibitionist drugs policies would prove to be counterproductive. Further, to give rewards for giving information on drug peddling is to reduce reformers into informers. This would take initiatives away from the people.

The central and state governments should form a consortium with multi-agency coordination between the Central Bureau of Narcotics, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, customs, central excise etc. and state enforcement agencies to effectively intervene to reduce the supply of drugs at three levels -- international drug trade, to break the cycle of inter-state trade from the source to the consumers by crop eradication and control, and misuse of prescription drugs.

Drug-free zone

On the demand side, the state and society should work together for making drug detoxification and the recovery support system accessible to the victims. A drug-free zone for the recovery and skill development rehabilitation centres to make youth productive have to be set up. A drug prevention programme with voluntary drug testing camps in schools, colleges, workplaces and factories have to be made functional. A chapter on drug abuse in educational curriculum should be introduced.

The first and foremost thing that emerged from the HT debate is that the political parties have to stop playing politics with drugs. The Centre and the states should work together to check illegal drug trade and also to impose Section 68 of the NDPS Act, 1988, to forfeit the illegally acquired assets of people involved in the drug trade. Policies need to be made to make the youth employable, build partnership with parents, and community leaders to become mentors for the prevention and treatment of drug abuse.

The writer is director, Institute for Development and Communication (IDC), Chandigarh

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Tourists at the Mall in Shimla. One of the hardest hit sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic has been tourism. It saw a contraction of 81.33% in foreign and domestic tourist arrivals in 2020. (HT file photo)
Tourists at the Mall in Shimla. One of the hardest hit sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic has been tourism. It saw a contraction of 81.33% in foreign and domestic tourist arrivals in 2020. (HT file photo)

HP’s economy to shrink by 6.2% this fiscal: Economic Survey

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 05:21 PM IST
Covid-19 pandemic induced lockdown took a toll on economic activity, particularly in horticulture and tourism sectors
Close
Labour activist Nodeep Kaur outside the Karnal jail on February 26 after the Punjab and Haryana high court granted her bail. She was arrested at Kundli on the Delhi-Haryana border on January 12 while she was demonstrating in solidarity with farmers against the Centre’s three farm laws. (HT file photo)
Labour activist Nodeep Kaur outside the Karnal jail on February 26 after the Punjab and Haryana high court granted her bail. She was arrested at Kundli on the Delhi-Haryana border on January 12 while she was demonstrating in solidarity with farmers against the Centre’s three farm laws. (HT file photo)

Punjab House panel to probe torture claims of farm activists

By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 04:24 PM IST
Speaker Rana KP Singh constituted the panel after chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh referred the demand of Aam Aadmi Party member Kanwar Sandhu to him
Close
Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal in the Punjab assembly. (HT file photo)
Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal in the Punjab assembly. (HT file photo)

Punjab assembly passes resolution for unconditional withdrawal of Centre’s farm laws

UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 02:44 PM IST
Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh moves resolution, while AAP demands he clarify if he was part of the Centre’s high-powered panel on the farm laws
Close
Shiromani Akali Dal MLAs protesting against the power tariff hike outside the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Friday. (Ravi Kumar/HT)
Shiromani Akali Dal MLAs protesting against the power tariff hike outside the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Friday. (Ravi Kumar/HT)

Akali MLAs suspended for budget session for disrupting Punjab CM’s speech

UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 02:13 PM IST
Speaker’s action after Akali members raised anti-government slogans when Capt Amarinder Singh criticised SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur for justifying the farm laws when the Centre was preparing to introduce them in Parliament
Close
Police are on the illicit liquor trail since last July’s hooch tragedy that left more than 130 people dead in the border districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur. (HT file photo)
Police are on the illicit liquor trail since last July’s hooch tragedy that left more than 130 people dead in the border districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur. (HT file photo)

Illicit liquor racket busted in Amritsar, 11 held with 58-tonne ‘lahan’

By Anil Sharma
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 01:11 PM IST
Amritsar rural police also recovered 4.61 lakh ML of illicit liquor, nine stills, 41 drums, six LPG cylinders, 22 kg of opium plants and 10 tarpaulins from Lakhuwal village in Ajnala sub division
Close
The court observed that a woman contractual or ad hoc employee is entitled to maternity leave on a par with a regular woman employee on grounds of fair play and social justice and there cannot be any discrimination. (Representative photo)
The court observed that a woman contractual or ad hoc employee is entitled to maternity leave on a par with a regular woman employee on grounds of fair play and social justice and there cannot be any discrimination. (Representative photo)

Can’t deny maternity leave to woman if she’s mother through surrogacy: HC

By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 12:01 PM IST
Kullu teacher moves Himachal Pradesh high court after leave request rejected; HC says to distinguish between mother who begets a child through surrogacy and a natural mother would result in insulting womanhood
Close
Dushyant Chautala’s disagreement on Vij’s “love jihad” label for the Freedom of Religion Bill came against a backdrop of growing discord between him and the home minister, particularly in the wake of various inquiries initiated in excise-related matters allegedly at Vij’s behest.(HT file photo)
Dushyant Chautala’s disagreement on Vij’s “love jihad” label for the Freedom of Religion Bill came against a backdrop of growing discord between him and the home minister, particularly in the wake of various inquiries initiated in excise-related matters allegedly at Vij’s behest.(HT file photo)

Don’t agree with term ‘love jihad’, says Haryana Dy CM

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:55 AM IST
  • Dushyant Chautala said that his Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, will support the move to enact a law for stopping forced religious conversion
Close
Akal Takht acting jathedar Harpreet Singh said adopting uncivilised and violent means to stop anyone from exercising freedom of speech and expression is inhuman. (ht file)
Akal Takht acting jathedar Harpreet Singh said adopting uncivilised and violent means to stop anyone from exercising freedom of speech and expression is inhuman. (ht file)

Crackdown on dissent worrisome, dangerous: Akal Takht acting jathedar

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 01:21 AM IST
AMRITSAR Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh on Thursday said that crackdown on the people dissenting amid the farmers’ stir is worrisome and dangerous
Close
Bhupinder Singh Hooda said they also plan to bring an adjournment motion to draw the attention of the government to multitude of problems faced by the people of the state.
Bhupinder Singh Hooda said they also plan to bring an adjournment motion to draw the attention of the government to multitude of problems faced by the people of the state.

Haryana budget session: Cong to bring no-confidence motion

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandiigarh
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 01:06 AM IST
  • The budget session comes at a time when the ruling combine is grappling with too many dissensions and conflicts amid the ongoing farmers’ protests against the Centre’s new farm laws.
Close
 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

ED arrests key accused in Nature Heights Infra scam

By Gagandeep Jassowal
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 01:03 AM IST
ED sources said during the probe, several illegal properties of the firms involved in the scam were found to be registered in the name of accused Rajiv Rattan Dhingra
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Haryana budget session: Cong to bring no-confidence motion

By HT Correspondent, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 12:34 AM IST
STRAP: Ruling BJP-JJP combine is grappling with internal conflicts The budget session of Haryana assembly, beginning Friday, is set to be a stormy affair with Congress, the principal Opposition party in the House announcing to bring a no-confidence motion against the BJP-JJP government
Close
Under the banner of Punjab Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation, faculty members from across Punjab and Chandigarh protesting at Panjab University on Thursday. (KESHAV SINGH/HT)
Under the banner of Punjab Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation, faculty members from across Punjab and Chandigarh protesting at Panjab University on Thursday. (KESHAV SINGH/HT)

Hundreds of teachers protest at Panjab University over pay scales

By HT Correspondent, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 12:26 AM IST
Teachers of Panjab University were on mass casual leave and even boycotted the conduct of examinations to press for pay scales as per the 7th pay commission
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Chandigarh house grab case: DSP Ram Gopal’s role under scanner, brother held

By HT Correspondent, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 12:14 AM IST
The FIR details that a meeting regarding the deal of the 338 square yards house was held at his office and he helped manage documents for it
Close
Chandigarh slips to 29th rank in Ease of Living Index
Chandigarh slips to 29th rank in Ease of Living Index

Chandigarh slips to 29th rank in Ease of Living Index

By Munieshwer A Sagar, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 12:02 AM IST
Had stood 5th among 111 cities in 2018; now is ranked 29th among 49 cities with million+ population and 45th overall
Close
A still from Chitkara International School’s virtual annual day. (HT Photo)
A still from Chitkara International School’s virtual annual day. (HT Photo)

Chitkara International School creates virtual mosaic for annual function

By HT Correspondent, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 10:11 PM IST
Around 1,800 students were divided into different groups and trained digitally by the school’s dance instructors and other staff members
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP