School curriculum must include the impact of use of drugs, its legal aspects and deaddiction, to arrest the increasing trend of substance abuse by youngtsers, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan has said.
Society should change its general notion that a drug addict cannot return to normal life. “Jeevitham aakatte nammude lahari: Vere lahari vende venda! (Let life; say no to every other addiction!),” should be people’s motto, he said here last evening, while inaugurating a major social programme on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
The Governor said every panchayat in the state should have counselling facilities. This will benefit local schools and parents of the children, he noted at the launch of S.A.F.E. Kerala in six districts of the state.
“What we need is constant vigil on the part of school authorities and parents in detecting even the slightest trace of inclination towards substance abuse among youngsters,” Khan said. “We also need to revisit the way we look at addiction by adding a touch of understanding and compassion.”
The S.A.F.E. programme, spearheaded by Fourth Wave Foundation’s Project Venda, seeks to contain and manage drug addiction among teenagers and young adults in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Kozhikode and Malappuram.
Khan, quoting a recent report, said almost 70 per cent of schoolchildren in Kerala could be vulnerable to substance abuse. “Since 2014, there has been a 78 per cent rise in crimes related to drugs and narcotics. The rate of suicides also has been high in our state,” he pointed out at the inauguration that was followed by a panel discussion on measures to check the use of narcotics.
The findings of the Narcotics Control Bureau’s NAPDDR (National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction), listed 272 districts in India as vulnerable from the supply point. Out of this, six districts are in Kerala.
Earlier, Fourth Wave Foundation’s Board Member Prof Vasanthi Srinivasan stressed the need for implementation of anti-drug programmes. “This is a starting point in that journey,” noted Prof Srinivasan, who teaches at IIM-Bangalore, in her keynote address on Child Rights Convention and Article 33.
Kumari Shibulal, in her presidential address, said that substance abuse has reached epidemic proportions in India. “Changing economic status and dwindling family/community support are leading to this tragedy,” added the co-founder of Shibulal Family Philanthropic Initiatives in her speech on ‘Need for Supporting Efforts of Civil Societies Working Towards a National Action Plan’.
Mukul Pachisia of Ernst and Young and Fr Rubin Panthakkal of BREADS (Bangalore Rural Educational and Development Society) spoke in a subsequent session. Wadih Maalouf of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Ms Regina Mattsson, Secretary General of World Federation Against Drugs addressed the audience through recorded videos.
A subsequent panel discussion was moderated by Fourth Wave Foundation BoD C Balagopal, who is an Independent Director with Federal Bank.