February 16, 2023
A few days back, in a group discussion for a MBA student seminar, I gave a topic for debate whether our education system has quality or not. The answer was unanimous, saying we have good quality education. The proof is a majority of students fall under the first class-Distinction category. In reply, I asked them if that is true; how come our students get addicted to alcohol, smoking, and drugs on their way to academic institutions. More is the institute's reputation; more is the menaces of drugs, alcohol, and smoking among students, irrespective of gender. There was a profound silence.
After studying for almost 18 years under the watchful eyes of parents and teachers, a few children deviate from their original path and cross roads to glimpse the modern world attractions. Unfortunately, they think it is just a glimpse, just one attempt, and fall into a big trap. Some willingly, some under group influence, and some under blackmailing. Sadly, all these things happen after at least 18-20 years of so called “quality education” and exposure. They need help understanding what starts as a one-time adventure when it becomes routine. Parents think this is the age where we consider our children are under our control. But unfortunately reality is different.
The big attraction for the beginners is the sense non-vulnerability. The reason for their strong belief is their godfathers' (drug peddlers) education and social standing. A few of them are sitting in such positions no one can doubt them. It happened before, and it's happening now, also. It will continue in the future. Hardly have they doubted that they would be caught one day.
Can we prevent this menace? Of course, yes. But not as laymen think; the law should act tough on them. How can the law know where they sit and operate? As in every crime, we individuals fail to do our part of the responsibility. We know them, the peddlers and the consumers. Therefore the process has to start with academic institutions themselves rather from outside agencies like police and the government.
Following are a few steps of defense against addictions menace in academic institutions which we can try out;
1. A strict adherence policy is to be signed by students and parents during admission. A display of previously deviated students and the academic, legal, and social consequences they underwent to be explained to new students and parents during entry.
2. Random checks on students, like on pilots and ATC (air traffic controller) on duty.
3. Close watch on students failing final examinations more than two times, and staying inside campus for more than two years.
4. Surprise checks on hostels.
5. Close watch on support staff at hostels and schools premises like a warden, watchman, gatekeepers, iron/laundry personnel, kitchen staff, and outside delivery boys, to name a few
6. On 1st attempt itself, rustication of such students from school should happen. No second chance at all. If they don’t understand at age 20, scoring distinction marks, they will never learn at 2nd chance also. Rustication should follow immediately.
7. A strict no drugs, no ragging policy.
8. Watch list for students coming from specific troublesome states.
9. Once a month, organized group counseling at college premises.
10. Regular Drug/addiction-related campaigns at schools and institutions under 18, mostly at high schools and 12th-level students.
11. Regular awareness speeches at religious places and other social gatherings.
12. Two dedicated police personnel to carry out intelligence activities at every school for above 16 age level students in their area of operation.
13. The number of persons from the legal dept. maybe increased for surveillance at reputed high-risk institutions (medical & engineering colleges).
14. At the university level, a dedicated vigilance wing should monitor every institution falling under them.
15. No bail for peddlers for at least 5 years.
Understand that many countries like Singapore, Srilanka, Indonesia, the Middle East, and China have zero tolerance toward drug track flicking and the award death penalty. Yet, at least in India, we can put them behind bars for 5 years without bail. Repeat offenders 10 years.
Sad though true. A few of these students come from parental dispute backgrounds. They experience heavy stress with no emotional support. Some of these students' parents use drugs at home. Sadly they are in considerable numbers now in some metro cities. In these situations, admission of such students is a significant risk. Therefore, strict screening of their familial background should be done during admission, and proper counseling should be provided initially. They should be monitored periodically.
A few of the institutions have counselors for namesake. To show on paper. A few have third-party counselors, mostly relatives of school administration, with no merits. Every institution must have active and efficient counselors, not just namesake. They should organize campaigns at regular intervals rather than in a passive role.
Contraceptive pills and condoms were recovered from high school kids' bags a month back in Bangalore. We are sitting on a time bomb about to explode. If we are not vigilant now, we will be like the United States of America, which we were given as an example of not being like them.
The police department does its job. They need to be supported by school authorities by implementing controlling strategies and reporting the matter directly to the SP-level management. Most institutions fail to do this for fear of losing the institution's credibility. Such institutions should understand that by withholding information, they fall into even bigger trap someday .Schools and parents only can take actual and effective control measures by implementing this 15-point agenda in every school. Most of us are experts in blaming the police department and the government for each and everything failing to carry out our fundamental responsibility. Nuclear families, single parents, free flow of money, credit cards, and no one to monitor the kids are breeding grounds for drug syndicates.
I hope with these measures, we can put a big break on spreading drug activity in our twin districts and elsewhere.