While sitting all alone in one of the parks frequented by youth in Jammu, my eyes keenly observe every visitor. Most of the visitors are students, bunking school or college. In the meantime, the park starts getting crowded and the number of people sitting near my bench start to increase. It is very disappointing to notice that most of these youth have become crapulent. Smoking and substance abuse is as normal as eating to them. The only conversation these people are capable of having is either about which drug addicted celebrities to choose as role models or about which drugs are all the rage now. Names like cocaine, weed and other stuff which I cant remember are tossed in the air. No worries of the future or studies or anything else. The sole purpose of their lives is drugs and their only leisure activity is eve-teasing and passing derogatory remarks at every unlucky girl who happens to cross their path. All this indicates that the very future of our country is on the path of destruction.
While my brain was busy lamenting the loss of the future of our country, the word Kashmir floods caught my attention. A group of boys sitting a little away from my bench were busy discussing the reasons for this calamity which struck Kashmir in 2014 while blowing huge rings of smoke into the air. I edged closer so that I could hear better, pretending to be pretty engrossed in the magazine I was reading. Some blamed girls dressed in jeans for the floods, saying that they had forgotten the culture, traditions and religion and thus had brought upon us the wrath of the Almighty. A wasted guy, holding a flask of alcohol and a half burnt cigarette, suddenly shouted that modernisation and westernisation are to be blamed for all our problems and worries. Many other theories were conjured on this topic by other drunk minds. Everything from girls to gadgets was blamed except their own selves.
I was intrigued to see how these boys managed to blame everything that was wrong with the society except blame their own wayward ways for the chaos around them. What should I call it – ‘hypocrisy’ or hallucinations? I was silent, not because I agreed with their reflections or thoughts, but because of the pain in my heart for the youth. How our youth is on the verge of self-destruction. How the patriarchy in our society has transformed them into misogynists. How their addiction has made them incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong. Their baseless comments only validated my belief in the report by an activist on the violence against women which states that, Our valley is witnessing an upward trend in crime against women since last two decades. As more and more women are becoming visible in public life, patriarchy faces a crisis, which is manifested in increasing crime against women in Jammu and Kashmir”.
Steps needed to save our youth, our future:
The most bizarre thing to observe in the public park was not the fact that the park had become a drug addiction hub for youth, but the level of ignorance on the part of our senior citizens and the security guards who were letting such nefarious activities take place openly. According to a survey sponsored by United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), there are 70,000 drug addicts in Kashmir division alone including 4000 women. As per a recent survey, 655 to 70% students in Kashmir are drug addicts and around 26%of them are female students. No strict action is being taken against such activities which leads to moral corruption and instability among the youth. This social menace threatening our youth should be taken seriously and the necessary steps should be taken immediately.
It is an old proverb, Charity begins at home. Parental vigilance is needed for the youth. Vigilance on the behaviour and attitude of relatives and friends is also necessary. An open discussion and awareness related to drug addiction and other ill activities is the need of hour. Our decision makers should take note of this growing problem and take a firm stand on preventing and stopping drug addiction. There should be a community plan that should be implemented to stop addiction to drugs. Counselling and awareness programmes should be initiated right from middle-school. Like plants require full care and concern from the day we sow the seeds in the soil, our youth are also in need of the3Cs: Care, Concern and Counselling from the beginning of their life.
Rehabilitation of the young drug-addicts is a major social problem. The need of raising the level of self-consciousness through proper education has been suggested as the basic step to combating this problem. Those who are able to overcome their addiction successfully can tutor other young addicts. The need of forming a healthy environment where the needs of these youth can be met is equally important.
Unless serious measures are taken now, the very future of todays youth will be severely compromised. The problem of drug addiction is too real and too serious to be ignored. Individual efforts cannot produce desired results. Instead, this menace should be collectively fought. How long shall we turn a blind eye to such critical issues? It is now time to be responsible for our actions.
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