Ahead of PM Modi's Mann Ki Baat radio show, former IPS officer Kiran Bedi has suggested ways to make India drug free. In a radio interview to NitiCentral the social activist has suggested three-pronged strategy that the government must take up to effectively tackle this menace corroding the very foundation of this nation.
Here are the excerpts:
Complaints of youth getting trapped in drug menace started coming in early 1980s. Those days, people especially youth were addicted to opium, but after 1984-85 we saw rise of use of heroine coming all the way from Afghanistan via Pakistan. Back then our laws were not so stringent against drugs. I was Deputy Commissioner (Crime Prevention) in Delhi.
In 1986, I started seeing our youth getting trapped into drug addiction. After that we witnessed a sharp rise in the cases of crimes. All types of crimes like robbery, chain snatching, pickpocketing increased. Gradually we found a connection between the two. The convicts in most of these cases were youths who drug addicts. They did all this to earn some extra bucks to purchase drugs.
What did you do to check it?
It was in 1986 when we decided to open de-addiction centres at 8 police stations in Delhi. It was first time in history when such centres were opened in police stations. This led to start of Navjyoti India Foundation, which works towards making our country drug free and save our potential youth force from getting on the wrong track.
We cured thousands of youths caught in this network. Based upon my experience on this particular subject I would say in order to free India's youth from the clutches of drug there is dire need to break the 'demand and supply chain.' Hence, government will have to look at both these aspects with equal seriousness otherwise we won't succeed in our mission.
Why is Punjab one of the most affected states?
In case of Punjab, which lies on the border of Pakistan, saw a whopping supply of drugs smuggled from across the border. This constant supply of drugs made the youth of Punjab its first victim which has now transformed into an epidemic. Almost every family in the state has a drug addict.
What is your suggestion to PM Modi on the issue of drug addiction?
I would appeal to the honourable Prime Minister to apply a three-pronged strategy. First cutting the supply chain; second reduction in demand; and finally creating public awareness.
On checking supply chain
To end this supply the government will have to start community policing, enforce rule of law and give strict punishment to those involved in sale and purchase of drugs.
An enforcement team comprising border police, local law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies and panchayats must be formed. This team should be given the responsibility of breaking the supply chain. The teams should be sensitised towards the issue and trained on how to break the supply chain.
During my posting in Manipur, which once was facing similar problem, I applied this strategy and found positive results. The PM should relentlessly talk to the people and authorities concerned about checking the supply chain.
He should also ensure that there is no political interference in this process and strict law enforcement. Once there is a cut in supply chain, number of youth falling prey to drug menace will automatically reduce.
On reducing demand
Next challenge in front of the government will be how to cut the demand. Hence, there is a need to restrict the availability psychotropic substances which are addictive in nature. Thus, government agencies will have to keep an eye over chemists selling cough syrups and other addictive medicines. Then, there is a need for proper medication. The de-addiction centres also play a crucial role in demand reduction.
On public awareness
Apart from breaking demand and supply chain, the third important task is public participation and creating awareness.
The PM, during his programme, should ask schools to educate children about drug addiction and its adverse effects.
Also, if a family finds its ward getting addicted then they should immediately take him/her to the de-addiction centres. No delays should be made in this because the problem of drug is like a disease which could be treated effectively at an early age. The more time you give the more problematic it gets.
The victims must be given proper care and advised to do yoga, meditation, etc. as it makes them mentally strong. After one is cured, there is a need to enhance the victim's mental strength so that he/she doesn't gets drawn towards this menace once again. In such a condition the family's support becomes very crucial in drawing one out of this abuse.