Intoxicated Himachali Youth : Worm of intoxication is killing the Pahadi Youth : Himachal Pradesh : Long ago use of “Alcohol and Hukka” were not a very weird story in our society. A small sip of alcohol in the late evening and hukka after dinner were parts of Himachali life style. Even woman and children were accustomed to consume wine during the severe winter to keep up their bodies warm. Not this, in upper Himachal Pradesh wine is so important that it is offered to local Gods. In fact, all these practices are still continuing, but here is something new which is really a matter of great concern for our society.
In July 2013, Kaul Sing Thakur, then the health minister in the Dhumal government exaggeratedly declared the Himachal Pradesh first smoked Free State of India. This was a great achievement for our society. In fact steps to make Himachal smoked free were taken in 2008, when smoking in public places became a punishable crime. Again in 2012 the government illegalized the sale, production, distribution and storage of all types of tobacco products in the state. But undeterred by all these hard steps Himachali youth still dogged with smoking and use of other intoxicated substances.
Himachal Pradesh is a prosperous state; in fact, it is one of the richest places in the whole Himalayan region. Generally people of the hills are very calm and follow the rules of the state. Unlike the rest of India, Himachali hardly required any interference by the state. But in the past smuggling of intoxicated substances like Heroin, opium, alcohol, cannabis and propoxyphene have become a headache for police. More than 1500 cases of drug smuggling have been registered by the police between 2011 and June 2014 and many others remain unnoticed. Shimla, Dharmshala, Kullu, Mandi, Solan and Una have been become the pivot of this lucrative business. One of the biggest consumers of these products is foreigners and teenagers.
Generally teenagers seek to imitate their elders and try to prove that they are now young enough to be noticed. For this they do everything, they drink, smoke, and take drugs. They want to attract the attention of the public. In many cases, children start smoking even when they are in 6th or 7th standard. Government and society have been failed to save youth from these deadly diseases. In spite of banning all types of tobacco products in state one can easily buy Ghutka and khaini at any retailer shop. In fact, now these products are being sold at a double and triple price and all this happened under the nose of the authorities. There is no one to check the sale of these banned products. There is need to fix the responsibilities of each department.
In Himachal Pradesh annual production of hashish is 60 tonnes and of opium is 40 tonnes. Presently Charas is being produced in small quantity in all districts of Himachal. About more than 2,500 villages of 592 panchayats indulge in the cultivation of hashish and opium. Land under the cultivation of hashish and opium is increasing day by day. Kangra, Kullu, Shimla, Kinnaur, Mandi and Sirmaur are producing a large quantity of opium and hashish.
Clearly the government has made very stringent laws but failed to implement them effectively. Today teenagers are very vulnerable to intoxicated substances and are very curious to use them; it should be our duty to talk with our younger brothers on these issues. For better environment, government should organise various seminars and workshop to teach the youth about the harmful effects of these deadly substances. Stringent laws can make a big difference, but ultimately it is society who has to come forward to fight these evils. We can hope that with the help of Teachers, Parents and Government we could provide a healthy environment for our youth. A healthy mind can be big assets for our country but it needs a lot of care and protection from birth to since it fully matures.
Pradeep Kumar, Kangra