General Studies Paper 2 (Indian Governance): Drug Addiction as a Social Problem

drug addiction as a social problem

 

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Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2 (Indian Governance)

 

Briefly outline the features of NDPS Act, Do you think the Act adequately addresses drug addiction as a social problem (15 Marks)

INTRODUCTION:

The widespread availability of illicit drugs has transformed drug addiction into a social problem. a social problem that affects all individuals within a society irrespective of status. Finding a solution to the social problem of drug addiction involves the employment of social solution that involves family, faith organization and community.

Features of NDPS (Narcotic drugs and Psychotropic substances) Act

NDPS Act, is an Act of the Parliament of India that prohibits a person to produce/manufacture/cultivate, possess, sell, purchase, transport, store, and/or consume any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.

  • The Act very effectively abolished the usage of dangerous drugs like cannabis, charas, and bhang and stopped its sales in India.
  • The Act abolishes the usage, production, cultivation or possession of any narcotic and psychotropic drugs and substances and it covers a wide area of operation as it applies to every citizen inside and outside India as well as persons working on ships and aircraft registered in India. 
  • Narcotic substances include all types of plant – based products such as opium, codeine and heroin and synthetic narcotics such as methadone and pethidine as well as cannabis, coca and cocaine. Psychotropic substances include all such substances which affect the brain resulting in alterations in perceptions, mood, and consciousness.
  • Under one of the provisions of the Act, the Narcotics Control Bureau was set up to monitor the usage of such drugs regularly and for taking correctional steps against such cases. 
  • The Act also provides authority to the Central Government to take adequate measures to prevent the consumption of illicit drugs and its abuse.  Section 8 of the Act provides for prohibition, control and regulation of certain operations such as production or cultivation of substances like coca plant, opium puppy or any cannabis plant inside India.
  • Article 47 of the Constitution of India provides the State to bring about the prohibition of certain intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health except for medical purposes. 
  • The Act also classifies the quantity of the prohibited substances regarding small quantity and commercial quantity. 
    • For instance, in the case of cocaine, the small quantity is 2 grams, and commercial quantity is 100 grams. 
  • The Act also provides provisions for the implementation of various Special Courts exclusively dealing with cases involving possession or consumption of any substances which falls under the Act. Even the Act has its power to award capital punishment in some special circumstances. In the year 2008, two persons were sentenced to death by NDPS Special Court in Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
  • Act established, NATIONAL FUND FOR CONTROL OF DRUG ABUSE to run treatment centres.

 

SHORTCOMINGS OF THE ACT

  • Delays in trial

Special courts have been created under this Act to help deal with the cases. However, in many states, such courts are given the additional responsibility of dealing with other cases as well causing undue delays in the disposal of drug related cases. Further, it is quite difficult to find witnesses, often due to threats from the accused including possible bribes to turn hostile.

  • Stringent bail laws:

Studies have found out that most of the drug users are from socially and economically backward classes. The elaborate provisions concerning bail coupled with an inherent lack of knowledge, ignorance and poverty often results in the poor vanquishing in prison.

  • Poor understanding of the addiction problem.

The Act does not understand the concept of addiction, particularly in its provision of once in a lifetime reprieve to addicts with mandatory treatment. It, however, does attempt to provide some reprieve to the addicts.

  • The Act lays down the conditions and manner in which narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances shall be supplied for medical necessity to addicts registered at the centres (section 71 and 78). But till date, no mechanism has been created at the district or state levels for this purpose.
  • The Act does not adequately discriminate between the addict, petty peddler and drug trafficker. There is a complete lack of distinction between various offences.

 

Way forward:

  • Special Courts for the purpose of dealing with offences under the Act should be established in every major city. At the very least, an exclusive bench should be set up to deal with such cases.
  • There should be a substantial reallocation of resources and particularly an increase in the provision of services for adolescents, women, people from minority ethnic communities and people with mental health problems.
  • Treatment in prisons should also be considered
  • To be effective, demand reduction programmes should be targeted at all young people, particularly those at risk, and the content of the programmes should respond directly to the interests and concerns of those young people. Preventive education programmes showing the dangers of drug abuse are particularly important.
  • Increasing opportunities for gainful employment and activities which provide recreation and opportunities to develop a variety of skills are important in helping young people to resist drugs.
  • Youth organizations can play a key role in designing and implementing education programmes and individual counselling to encourage the integration of youth into the community, to develop healthy lifestyles and to raise awareness of the damaging impact of drugs.
  • Drug-related problems are more effectively addressed in the community than in a custodial setting.
  • Strengthen efforts to understand patterns and trends of drug use within the country, especially in rural areas falling along the drug trading routes and those close to cultivating areas.
  • Develop methods for supporting socio-cultural controls on drug use. 
  • Urgently assess the demand for drug treatment, particularly amongst the urban poor engaging in the most dangerous forms of drug use, and increase the coverage of a range of treatment interventions.
  • As a matter of priority, it is recommend that renewed attention should given to the information and research base which facilitates understanding of the evolving picture of drug use and the cost effectiveness of welfare and control responses. Routine statistics should be improved to reduce gaps in the understanding of the scale, nature and extent of drug use. Enforcement and
  • Treatment policies should be evaluated thoroughly, making full use of the available range of social science research methods.

 

Conclusion

What is often observed regarding the NDPS Act is that the small fish get caught while the big fish escape and evade the law owing to their clout. The Act also fails to provide an adequate distinction between minor and serious offenders as also the basis for the punishments laid out. Even the Government took a brave step by banning all such drugs like HANS, KHAINI, etc. But people are still consuming such deadly substances as they are still available in the market. Another problem arising out of this issue is that even the school going children have started consuming such illicit substances with the help of many middlemen between them and the suppliers of such drugs. Such situations have to be handled by the concerned authorities and also by the parents so that they stop using such drugs. No actions can be adopted by the authorities if there is no public participation in such issues. People living in residential communities may arrange certain awareness programs and periodical inspections at the places where they feel there is a regular consumption of such products. People can also form various action committees for abolishing the explicit usage of such items from the society as such acts do not affect a person alone, but the society as a whole.

 

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