A Sobering Discussion On the Raving Issue.
As is evident from the first two episodes, we at Golmej are taking up those issues and subjects for discussion and debate that would affect the society. We were brainstorming for topics. The ones we came up with were related to the dreaded virus. And a realization dawned that we have been sucked into it since March. Therefore when the topic of Drugs was pitched, it was surprising and not at the same time.
Not surprising, because the din and chaos of recent moves of the Narcotics Control Bureau was there for everyone to see and it needed to be addressed and spoken about, surprising because of the realization that the society had gone through the cycle of collective discovery-outrage-frustration-disregard on yet another issue of importance and it had slipped our radar. The reaction to the drugs phenomenon was cliché old normal and therefore we decided to take up the topic, “Should recreational drugs be legalized in India?” for the October 2020 Golmej.
There is a classic human reaction to the topic of drugs, “I don’t do drugs, but I know someone who does.” This is the same as “I don’t break traffic rules, but I know someone who does.” And you can as well paste this template to any socially frown upon action. This isn’t a generalization alone but also a conclusion of a survey that was conducted by the presenter, majority responders denied having done drugs and majority of them knew of someone who did drugs.
The prevalence of drug use, the taboo associated with talking about it, and the far reaching ramifications became the focal point in Golmej discussion. And as is the case with Golmej, the discussion was to be on facts and figures.
Drugs are classified as stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens and opioids. A simple fact such as this along with statistics, surveys and reports from all over the world that were presented laid the groundwork for a health discussion. Just like any good discussion, this Golmej touched upon areas ranging from international treaties and conventions, international supply chains for drugs, case studies of legislations in Portugal, Scandinavian countries, Australia etc., problems specific to India, solutions on them and the challenges.
The presenter touched upon some very interesting aspects of the issue. Facts such as there was a death penalty under NDPS act till 2014, the number of arrests under NDPS act, which were the drugs that had attracted majority of arrests opened up the topic better. “Regulation has failed to regulate” was an interesting quote that drew parallels to the prohibition era in the United States.
If this presentation leaned towards one side of the debate, the participants pushed the other side equally well. The topic is India specific and thus discussion was needed challenges peculiar to India. For a topic as polarizing as this one, we had participants with strong viewpoints backed by data and facts. The ensuing debate was therefore engaging and enlightening. At Golmej, we believe in learning through discussion. Appreciating and accepting an opponent’s point of view is rather encouraged as it helps the larger cause.
Addiction is a major concern with drugs and it lies across a thin line from social/recreational use. A mature discussion on addiction threw in the state of affairs on existing de-addiction/rehabilitation facilities in India. Legislation of an addictive substance depends upon the capacity of the state and in extension the society to provide remedial measures to the afflicted. The path to legalization goes through steps of decriminalization, regulation and the legalization.
The Indian systems, overburdened as they are, do have a long way to go to address a seemingly tertiary social challenge of substance abuse. However, to counter a challenge like this, we need to have the first mover’s advantage in this issue given the rapidly evolving demography influenced deeply by pop culture and growing disposable income.
An important facet of Golmej is audience engagement. The participation of the audience is not limited to being spectators. The audience for this Golmej raised thought provoking questions. These questions ranged from the effects on impressionable minds of children to the failure of the society in creating awareness against existing harmful substances such as tobacco. The discussion underscored the point that the process of legislation is not just a legislative move but a broader social step and must factor in the scale of impact on the society at large.
If the discussion was sobering because of the unsaid aspects of the topic that were brought to the fore by the participants, the audience participated by way of deeply insightful and some seriously stirring questions.
Check out the full episode of Golmej here :
AND, if you think this topic was interesting and engaging and dare I say based on an addiction, check out our November Golmej topic,
Memes: A Serious Business?
Majority of the population may not “do” drugs, but an overwhelming majority is engaged with “Memes”.