Asia-Pacific, India, Editor's Choice

India in a Trance: The Gritty Reality of Drugs

A typical day in my life; I was busy on my phone, scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. That’s when I came across new memes about a child addicted to some “solution”. I passively ignored it, thinking it was just another meme. Little did I know the reality behind it. Spoiler: it’s related to drugs.

Kamlesh: The “Solution” Friendly Child

A 13-year-old boy, a rag picker, who hails from Bhopal, currently working in Delhi, the Capital City of India, is addicted to drugs. Yes! He claims to have run away from his home, his mother, who is not as important to him as ‘solution’ is. He is addicted to not just cigarettes, or beedi, which is a mini-version of cigarette wrapped in leaves, originating from my homeland, the Indian sub-continent. Moreover, he is addicted to smack, hash, cocaine, and the infamous ‘solution.’

The Solution

Long before we had the technology, word processors, Google Docs, and other text editors, we had typewriters and typists. Whenever they made mistakes, they used to use a correction fluid, a whitening fluid, which once dried can cover our mistakes, and we can write over them again. Mixed together- the whitener and the toxic thinner gives rise to the ‘solution’ Kamlesh is addicted to.

When I was a student at Delhi University, I used to wander around the streets a lot, with my friends. We used to spend most of our time in the tourist-friendly, central attraction, and the business hub of Delhi-Connaught Place.

Made as a circle, the Connaught Place has numerous pillars, enhancing its colonial beauty. But what these pillars often hide, are children consuming drugs. These children, below the age of 15, with the help of foil papers, matches, and lighter drown themselves in the world of toxicity and destructiveness. I used to cross these kids, right in front of me, every single day for three years, but ignored them. Only to understand their plight today.

India is Addicted to Drugs

Yes, India is addicted to drugs. Today, more than ever. Yes, the Indian youth is dying, every single day. At least ten people die every day in India, according to the data laid on the table of the Rajya Sabha – The Council of States in India; all owing to the menace of drugs. Suicides because of drug abuse are growing more than ever. In the last decade, they have crossed the suicide rates of dowry and poverty.

The problem is not just restricted to the poor Indians,  but to the elites as well, and yes, the middle class as well. Peer pressure? Maybe. Curiosity makes them start; the ‘kick’ gets them going, the ‘fun’ gets them going on further. By the time, they start understanding what is wrong, a lot of time, crucial time, has passed. All they are left with then are the walls of rehabilitation centers. Drug abuse is killing people, every single day.

In Punjab, the state known today for its problems of drugs, it is not just young boys, and men, but women as well. A man addicted to heroin used to stash it at home, not knowing he was giving his sister and his wife, easy access to it. There are many cases of men pretending to fall in love with women, from more affluent families, and using them as access to heroin. In fact, many men deliberately get their wives addicted to it so that they do not “nag” them later.

Where Did These Drugs Come From?

According to recent data, as many as 64,302 people, which includes foreigners, have been arrested because of smuggling drugs into the country. The drugs are smuggled into the country through various borders and means, of which, the Nepalese people are the most arrested. Following the Nepalese, the Nigerians and the Burmese people have been under the scrutiny of the Narcotics Department of India.

If we look at the border, the India-Bangladesh border is known to be the most vulnerable one, followed by the India-Nepal, India-Pakistan, and the India-Myanmar borders.

The Figures

In the last decade, India has experienced a rise in the rich and the elite. The people who can afford everything, literally. Owing to this fact, the growth of the drug empires could not have been prevented. Drug empires are now becoming an organized business in India, and the seizure of their many deliveries to India has seen a rise by over 400%, which means more drugs are entering our borders.

There are about 13 types of drugs that have entered the borders of India, at different prices, which hover around 1.5 lakh INR to 2.5 Crore INR, per KG. The prices increase by up to five times while entering the territories of the National Capital Region – Delhi; about ten times if it enters Mumbai, the glitterati of India.

India is becoming vulnerable with each passing day because of it being the ‘cheese’ between the ‘bread slices’ of the ‘Golden Crescent’ towards the North-West and the ‘Golden Triangle’ on the North-East.

The Curse of a Family Breakdown

Families are being destroyed; lives are being ruined. Moreover, the youth of the country, the pride of the nation is being destroyed.

But what about children and other young men like Kamlesh? The poor who have dispersed from their rural areas, only to make a living here in the urban cities, they die every day. Who accounts for them?

In a documentary on the issue, I came across a man in his twenties who was addicted to smack. He knew he was wrong, he knew he wanted to quit, but whenever he tried, his senses betrayed him. He claims he has lost all his wealth and himself because of his addiction, yet his body does not let him quit on his habits. When he does try to quit, he is only met with vomits of blood. The producer of the documentary asked him about his life submerged in drugs, to which he said: “It would be better to die.”

While drugs are available to the rich and the middle class through dealers, the poor of India get their stash from local grocery store and tobacco sellers.

The Reality on the Ground

A grandmother claimed her grandson to steal her gold jewelry, her wallet, and keys to feed himself the substances he is addicted to. Those who are driven by substances in such a state are not afraid to commit crimes as well. Motorbikes, mobile phones, and other precious items from the homes of strangers are stolen by these youth. They threaten families and rob them of their hard-earned money; they are afraid to send their daughters and sisters outside, alone. What is shocking is that a six-year-old stole 25 rupees from someone in a market, and took 25 rupees from his mother, to feed himself his daily dose.

As for the future

The authorities are not being able to curb the situation. So, where is the future of India heading? The Government trying its best is not able to curb this menace. There is no real help which is needed at this stage in a child’s life. The authorities have failed to support these children by providing counselors. Both at the school level and at the local level. Most families cannot take their ‘abused’ children to rehab centers because of the costs involved.

Therefore, media campaigns are much needed now for curbing the menace of drug abuse. Government and legislation cannot control it alone. Social awareness is the key. People need to understand that drugs are killers. And this would require a lot of persuasions to be curbed, to save precious and innocent lives from being ruined.

About Saumya Khanduja

A cat lover, a book lover, and a beach lover: Saumya is all shades of being human. A sociology graduate from India, who spends most of her time writing. Outside the realm of the web, she loves cooking, sketching, and listening to the cello. A Game Of Thrones enthusiast, she might be small, but can "slay" you!

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