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Friday, January 21, 2022

THE GROWING DRUG MENACE IN INDIA

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When Aryan Khan was nabbed by NCB on illegal drug possession and consumption, the entire attention of our country turned to news that hash-tagged this incident. From the controversial demise of Sushant Singh Rajput to the arrest of Bollywood’s King Khan’s son, there is one common thread that binds both the ends, DRUGS!
If we go back to ancient history, Asian culture had a wonderful narration about drugs from Haoma in Persia to Soma-rasa in India. Ancient scriptures brag about how these magical/psychotropic potions helped the Gods achieve immortality! This secret travelled across countries and reached the American continent where Brazilian shamans brewed a concoction called Ayahuasca!

Now we leap to the 8th century and reach the valleys of Afghanistan where the poppy plants were flourishing under the sun, stamped with dollar signs! There happened to be a silk route that bridged Afghanistan and India through which Opium started flowing in amplitude. Initially, the trade of Opium was solely based on medicinal purposes as it was found to be analgesic. But as time went by, the country started spotting a slow and gradual headway in the Opium addiction amongst youth. Things didn’t stop there even though the Indian Government implemented Drugs Act in 21st century; the interdicted possession and consumption of the Opium went underground and started building its own empire. As an upshot, the involvement of Sikh militancy in Opium trafficking laid hold of public attention. Now we know that 7 out of 10 Punjabis are addicted to drugs. The Bollywood movie ‘Udta Punjab’ depicts this sad state of Punjabi youths as an eye opener.

I am utterly convinced that the introduction of Netflix to our country was such a big démarche. Anyone could have Netflix on their smartphone with a minimum of INR. 199. Such an affordable price for grabbing most of the world premieres. Great! And then we were gifted with so many TV shows/series. One of them was Breaking Bad. How many of you have watched that TV series? When we finished binge-watching the series, we felt so much confidence that anybody could setup a tiny lab in a shady corner and start cooking Meth (Methamphetamine) even if we have no basic knowledge of how chemicals work! I know many people who approached me, willing to invest to build a meth lab (God forbids) and start minting money like Walter White, just because they knew I had done “Biochemistry” (yes, they see the word Chemistry in Biochemistry) in college.
If we scrutinize why youth in our country is attracted to drugs, the entertainment industry would gobble up most of the valid reasons. For example, there are a lot of movies and TV shows that promote/show drugs in a positive light. Here are some,

Enter the Void
Limitless
Hangover
Lucy
Dredd
Mandy
Pineapple Express
Harold and Kumar
How High
Cheech and Chong

Another issue is the celebrities who openly proclaim that they consume drugs. That includes,

Elon Musk
Snoop Dogg
Bob Marley
The Beatles
Wiz Khalifa
Steve Jobs
Rob Van Dam
Seth Rogen

These are the people that our youth revere and admire as models nowadays. Just give it a thought, what kind of ascendancy they bring to the youth in our country!
But here is the catch. Since we are “advanced” enough to embrace western rock/pop culture as our own, we forget to see that there were many lives lost to drug abuse. Some of them are,
Janis Joplin
Led Zeppelin
Shannon Hoon
Layne Staley
Michael Jackson
Mike Starr
Chris Kelly
Matt Roberts
Jim Morrison

We never learn anything from them. What we fail to see is their drug abuse and ultimately losing their lives in the most excruciating way possible. All we see is how “cool” and intriguing they look!
Nowadays the NCB is on the hunt for drug peddlers/plugs/hooks to clean the cities and save the youth from the clutches of drugs. From small villages to Metropolitan cities, peddlers are thriving and building their network of the drug cartel. It’s not a secret anymore. One out of 5 people in India knows someone who smokes what they call “weed”. Weed is a slang they give to the cannabis/marijuana/ganja. How many of us know the famous Reggae singer Bob Marley? Wearing a Rastafarian beanie cap, he sings the song of love and peace while drenched in the intoxication of Marijuana. He is the main role model of the youngsters these days; they wish to a rebel, different, progressive, cool, and what better way to do it, to register the protest against society and traditions than by consuming drugs? Being cool or losing their sense of judgement?

There is a reason why doctors and psychologists say that marijuana is a ‘gateway drug’. People start with Marijuana and gradually start exploring the possibilities of higher “trips”. Haven’t you heard someone say, “Bro, I am so high” or “Bro, I am tripping”? They are indeed tripping on psychoactive substances without knowing what these drugs are doing to their mind and body.
I hark back to an incident that happened in Goa in 2018 when someone I met at a party died on the beach due to a drug overdose. It still gives me chills. He was such a wonderful soul, always happy. But his dependency on drugs to become more “happy” cost him his precious life. Many stories share a similar incident. Goa is the haven for nightlife and parties. The hippie revolution that budded in the U.S. found its way to Goa in the 1970s. Along with them, many drugs were introduced to the seekers. What makes Goa so special is the easy access to drugs. Russian and Italian drug cartels thrive in Goa by bringing new synthetic drugs which people take on rave parties to “trip on”. If you take a walk in North Goa, you will hear voices across the street whispering “Chahiye?” What they have to offer is nothing but party drugs that Goa is infamous for.
Rave party life in Goa is a black hole which sucks everything that comes in contact with it. Most of the people in rave parties “pop” psychedelics like LSD and MDMA. Your knowledge of psychedelics is bleak if you haven’t heard about the famous “bicycle trip” by Albert Hoffman. In my honest opinion, Goa is the drug hub where all sorts of drug transactions take place, and our youth flock there in thousands. What we see nowadays is the invasion of Goa by youth from Kerala. Most of them are in a state of loss. Take a walk in Goa and you will meet someone from Kerala for sure, who is directly or indirectly involved in drug peddling. Even though drug transaction in Goa is not a secret, cops are keeping a blind eye on this as long as they are getting “whatever” they need to blindfold their own eyes. Rave/Psytrance parties are a regular thing in North Goa during the season where drugs flow like a river.

How many of you remember when the internet suddenly flooded with news about Dark Web and the illegal activities that take place there? Dark Web caught attention when some peddlers got caught with drugs that were imported from US/Switzerland/Netherlands. This gave a new perspective to the NCB to understand the gravity of the situation. Having a secure/masked web browser like Tor keeps the anonymity of the buyer and seller making it almost impossible to track. Moreover, most of the transactions that take place in Dark Web are mainly on crypto currency (Bitcoin) since the buyer or seller will be directly sending/receiving the amount through their crypto wallets, bypassing any kind of centralised banking system. If you take a survey on big cities like Mumbai, it won’t be really hard to find someone who brags about how they get “stuffs” from Dark Web securely and anonymously without being caught!

Well, Southern part of India, especially Tamil Nadu has a different story to tell when it comes to drugs/psychotropic/psychoactive substances. Only a few places in this world where psychedelic mushrooms called Magic Mushrooms/Shrooms grow naturally. One of those places is in Kodaikanal where these Shrooms grow in abundance. Even though it comes under Schedule 1 category, people across the country flock in Kodaikanal to have some “trippy time” just because shrooms are available freely and in plenitude on most of the hills during Monsoon. People even pluck and eat them while taking a walk in the dense forest of Kodaikanal. Stories of people losing their lives to poisonous mushrooms by mistaking them with shrooms are not something to surprise about.

Another trend that our youth invest their time and energy is to take a trek to the beautiful valleys of Himachal Pradesh. If you take a road trip in Himachal, don’t be surprised to see cannabis plants growing freely on the roadside. The favourable soil, climate and sunlight let the cannabis grow profusely. Well, if you take a little detour to the valleys, it’s a different picture. Most of the villagers here depend on the income that they get from selling Charas/Hashish to the tourists. The reminiscence of this trade can be found all across India. When peddlers try to pitch in, they sometimes surprise the buyer with the terms “Malana Stuff” which has higher cost and potency. We often witness a few Sadhus/Babas holding a chillum and throwing thick smoke of intoxication into the air, being in a state of spiritual content. But the youth receives an erroneous message that marijuana is harmless. The awareness plays a big role here to make the youth understand the reality behind what those Sadhus/Babas are actually doing which justifies their actions.
The ubiquity of drug use/abuse doesn’t stop here. Youth, that doesn’t have much money to spend on drugs or when no drugs are available around, they find many alternatives. From sniffing nail polish remover and whitener to gulping strips of pharmaceutical drugs (diazepam, nitrazepam, spasmo proxivon, pregabalin, etc.), the weak minds find solace by altering the reality with the help of these substances and escape to the dreamy world they create for themselves.
Having known the facts above, it can be concluded that our country has no dearth of Aryan Khans who seek temporary escape from responsibilities and dwell in altered delusional consciousness.
“The longing to experience something more is inherent in humans. Unless we bring forth a spiritual process, drugs will be ubiquitous” – Sadhguru
When there is a permanent way to happiness through meditation, sports, and a healthy lifestyle that this vibrant country has to offer, it’s sad that the youth is looking towards and aping west mindlessly. Ironically, West is seeking peace and bliss through spirituality that not only budded here but also travelled far and wide. Today, India witnesses the footfalls of a lot of foreigners who flock here to live a ‘hippie’ life while seeking a long-lost inner peace that’s devoid in their lands. If they get what they come seeking, what is stopping our youth from not treading that permanent blissful path? Perhaps, lack of awareness, seriousness in the matter, and ‘drug money’.
Think again! The feeling of High is actually dragging you down.

Source :
https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/what-happens-your-brain-when-you-binge-watch-tv-series-ncna816991

https://www.unodc.org/pdf/india/publications/south_Asia_Regional_Profile_Sept_2005/10_india.pdf

https://www.latestlaws.com/articles/drug-trafficking-in-india-legal-perspective-by-yash-soni
https://hacked.com/what-is-the-dark-web-and-how-is-it-used-by-criminals/
https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/290316/mushroom-is-drug-now.html
https://akjournals.com/view/journals/2054/3/2/article-p104.xml
https://discoverkullumanali.in/tourism-and-malana-cream-how-charas-affects-tourism-in-kullu-manali/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC443486/
https://socialjustice.nic.in/writereaddata/UploadFile/Magnitude_Substance_Use_India_REPORT.pdf
https://medium.com/entheogen/cannabis-in-india-from-scripture-to-stoners-7b6b756b5bcb

Authors:
Astra Arya: Biochemist by qualification. An IT guy by profession. Strong believer of Unified Divinity in Diversity and Human Values. An astrophysics enthusiast, musician and pencil sketch artist by choice. Gravatar ID: astrarya@gmail.com

Varun Kulkarni: Mechanical Engineer by qualification, Engineering manager by profession. Strong believer of Vedic values and Santana. ISHA Volunteer. Gravatar ID: Seldomvarun@gmail.com

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