By Md Naushad Ansari
On June 26, which is observed as the call towards Drug Abuse Awareness, Assam must pledge to make itself drug-free….
Experiencing original cultures, understanding and critically appreciating long-standing civilizations is definitely an illuminating art; it showcases the growth and advancement acquired by diverse bygone historical blends of hitherto primitive societies.
Emilie Durkheim, one of the founding fathers of Sociology, asserts that both culture and civilization are ‘social facts’. He also states: “Society is the base of all other factors existing in it; everything is believed to be imperfect without the presence of society”.
Here I would like to draw your considerations towards the contemporary Assamese culture and its age-old civilization prevalent among the various strata of its inhabitants and populace.
Assam has had a rich culture and civilization, as it is the state of highest tea production in India, hub of several old tribes and diverse indigenous and colonial powers. It has been a multidimensional state by which each power oriented influences sought to capture and annex it within. It was supposed to be an economic and commercial driven center because of linking many international boundaries like Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar. People rushed to the state for their survival and livelihood in ancient and medieval periods. Realistically, the modern Assamese culture has drastically changed as people progressed and improved internally. Optimistically, they prefer to be at home.
Seminal occupation of its people is agriculture and tea farming. It was also possible to get fishing as a medium of their survival. Principally, they are all reliant on agriculture and farming as different specific types of cultivation originate in Assam, and are not found in any other states. Their main source of income is cultivation and tea farming additionally hooked on it. Once the crops are harvested or finished, they are unrestrictedly free to feel the commotion of village magnetism. Major people are dependent on the agricultural economy. In fact, farmers are the backbone of an inclusive society that affords ample reasons for the people to survive. There is no life span without agriculture and farmers anywhere in the biosphere.
The most distressful problem in the villages was the mal-nourishment of children. No sufficient attention is given by parents towards them. Not even supplementary parental guidance for education to furnish their forthcoming life. Hardly children complete the matriculation following which they begin to assume minimal income which is not enough for serving parental needs and family adversities. The more they earn, the less they feel. In contrast, only few take interest to support family and maintain balance. Because of peer group influences, students obligate parentages to accomplish the prior requirements unless they leave the home. Despite all these, only few are interested in higher education. Illiteracy among Muslim is prevalent to the extent that government jobs are accorded to only non-Muslims. This is not the case that they are deprived of basic rights but actually they are incomplete and incompetent in themselves.
Another predominant phenomenon is that of Love Marriage which is much common in village areas in place of arrange marriages. Commonly, girls select their life partners in the educational institutes and get married to them even though if they are not professionally settled. Often immaturely, they get married even without the consent of their parents, and therefore they face end number of maturity glitches like delivery, physical development and mental growth.
Parents do not permit married girls to enter their homes for long periods. Teenage children also get to fulfill their own desires without the knowledge of parents. Parents have lost control over their children so much so that they do not posses the parental status any more. They too reach home by late night, and thus children feel it permitted to practice unlawful activities like drugs, smoking and what not. Drugs among the youth in Assam is quite a distressing dilemma.
According to a police report, this year till August 30, the Assam Police have recovered 9.27 kg of heroin, over 3,000 kg of ‘ganja’, 8.62 kg of opium, 51,347 bottles of cough syrup and over 6.38 lakh illicit tablets. Between June 26 and August 30, the number of drug-related cases has gone up by 49.6%. There has been a jump of 46.13% in the number of people arrested during that period. Assam has recorded a nearly 50% jump in cases related to illegal drugs.
In nutshell, we can imagine the pathetic situation of the current Assamese culture. Due considerations are not paid to children and the social norms, regulations and moral values are not well internalized into children. We must be focusing on the present situation to reform the future.
On June 26, which is observed as the call towards Drug Abuse Awareness, Assam must pledge to make itself drug-free. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), more than 35 lakh people around the world suffer from drug addiction. According to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, an estimated 8.5 lakh ‘People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) in India, Assam accounted for 17,466 PWID during the survey period.
Some Action Points:
Parents’ awareness in Assam can aid in the early diagnosis of children’s substance usage before they become prone to an addiction situation. Active engagement in such an awareness campaign by positive influencers like celebrities from the music industry, who cast a lot of craze among teenagers and young people, can be effective but only if these role models themselves don’t take drugs.
Addicts are rehabilitated through counselling. Treatment for drug addiction among the youth in Assam should be an important part of the plan. Only if every segment of society cooperates fully with the Assam law-enforcement authorities in cracking the network of drug traffickers and peddlers operating in their neighborhood can Assam become a drug-free state.
The writer is a Senior Lecturer at Darul Huda Islamic University in Assam.