Fighting Drug Menace
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive
In News: 26th June is celebrated as International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
- The decision to mark the day was taken on 7 December 1987 through a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in order to strengthen global action and cooperation to achieve its aim of making the international society free of drug abuse.
- This year’s theme ‘Health for Justice, Justice for Health’ emphasises that justice and health are “two sides of the same coin” when it comes to addressing the problems associated with drugs.
Drug abuse has become a universal and growing issue of concern to humanity. The illicit drugs have multiple consequences to health, society and economy. The issue is complex and multifaceted requiring both health measures and efforts to control trafficking/smuggling and manufacture of illicit drugs. A reduction in the demand of drugs of addiction both legal and illegal, which lead to numerous health, family and societal consequences, is required.
Drug Menace in India
Located between two largest opium producing regions of the world i.e. Golden Crescent in the west and Golden Triangle in the east, India is considered to be extremely vulnerable to narcotic drug trafficking.
In February 2019, AIIMS submitted its report ‘Magnitude of Substance Use in India’ that was sponsored by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The study found that –
- Around 5 crore Indians reported to have used cannabis and opiods at the time of the survey.
- About 60 lakh people are estimated to need help for their opioid use problems
- Nationally, it is estimated that there are about 8.5 lakh people who inject drugs.
- Of the total cases estimated by the report, more than half of them are contributed by states like Assam, Delhi, Haryana, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh. Punjab ranks consistently at the top or in the top five in many of the surveys conducted.
India is a signatory of the following conventions:
- Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs 1961 as amended by the 1972 protocol
- Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971
- UN Convention against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988
India is a party to all three UN Conventions and also has ratified all of them. In India, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS), 1985 provides the current framework for drug abuse control in country.
Steps taken by Government
- Constituted Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) in November, 2016 and revived the scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”.
- Narcotics Control Bureau has been provided funds for developing a new software i.e. Seizure Information Management System (SIMS) which will create a complete online database of drug offences and offenders.
- Constituted a fund called ‘National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse’ to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with combating illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs; rehabilitating addicts, and educating public against drug abuse, etc.
- Conducting National Drug Abuse Survey to measure trends of drug abuse in India through Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the help of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, AIIMS
- Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has introduced Scheme of Assistance for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drugs) Abuse. The scheme seeks to benefit victims of alcohol and substance abuse. Under the scheme, non-governmental organisations have been entrusted with the responsibility for delivery of services and the Ministry bears substantial financial responsibility (90% of the prescribed grant amount).
- The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, prohibit a person to produce, possess, sell, purchase, transport, store, and/or consume any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. The NDPS Act has since been amended thrice – in 1988, 2001 and 2014. The Act extends to the whole of India and it applies also to all Indian citizens outside India and to all persons on ships and aircraft registered in India.
- The Act provides stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
- It also provides for forfeiture of property derived from, or used in, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
- It also provides for death penalty in some cases where a person is a repeat offender.
Do we require a National Policy to deal with it?
India has a fairly large reservoir of raw opium, cannabis, alcohol and now synthetic opioid users, both in urban and rural areas, with a large number of them being young and adolescent population. The social, health and economic consequences of substance dependence are well known and include
Health: mortality, morbidity, psychiatric and physical disorders
Social: accidents, absenteeism, family disintegration, prostitution, organized crime etc.
Economic: finances spent on developing services, drain on national resources, loss of productivity, etc.
- NCB in collaboration with state agencies and concerned ministries, organizes awareness campaigns. Awareness campaign is also a continuous process. Other agencies such as social welfare or health department have to also contribute in this fight against drug menace.
- De-addiction and demand reduction is important. Demand reduction is also a job that the government agencies will have to ensure. For demand reduction, there are addition centres. The ministry of social justice and empowerment gives money to some NGOs to work in this field.
- There should be rehabilitation within the society. It is difficult to get the addicted people back to creative level so government has to make necessary and sufficient rehabilitation centres with required resources to bring people back to mainstream society.
- If a common man has information about drug supply chain or peddlers or wants to inform about someone suffering from this menace, they can contact NCB. For supply reduction, they can contact state director.
- Public campaign- anti-drug consumption campaign could be launched with more vigour, starting from school children particularly of higher grades. There are marathons, walkathons on this issue. There are advertisement placed in railways and metros.
- Collaborate at international and multilateral forums so as to ensure that those foreign jurisdictions also act to stop the supply into India. There are various bilateral agreements and treaties with countries in which sharing of information and facilitating investment is also important.
- As a society, we need to say no to drugs. Make efforts to take action against them who are involved in supplying drug to drug traffickers. At least the youngsters do not fall prey to this menace in the times to come should be the aim. It is not a cool thing to do which can be done once for trial and get out of it quickly. Also, they should be made aware to not get into peer pressure.
Reforming De-addiction centres
- Budget, training of administrators and the care and empathy of the best de-addiction centres: Need to study the best practices, and replicate it by providing the appropriate training and facilities here. Minimum standard of care should be provided.
- Right of people should still be the same and not any less than that of people outside that centres. Gross violation of human rights need to be tacked on an immediate basis.
- Unregulated de-addiction centres which are not equipped to handle this problem should be banned immediately. Strict regulations should be established and zero tolerance towards misdemeanours need to be practiced.
Connecting the dots:
- Drug menace has the capacity to ruin India’s demographic dividend. Explain how India as a society and sovereign country tackle this issue.
- Examine the steps that are being taken by the Government for a better framework for the provision of de-addiction facilities? What are the various ways, according to you, in which this alarming situation can be handled?
- What are the reasons for growing drug abuse in India? Also mention the challenges and steps taken to curb this menace