Essay on Measures to Control Alcoholism & Drug Addiction in India !
Efforts to control alcoholism and drug addiction have been made by introducing stringent legislative measures to regulate the manufacture, transportation and sale of these products and ban on their possession or use for other than medical and scientific purposes. The use of alcohol and narcotic drugs for cure or treatment purposes has, however, been permitted to cater to the legitimate needs through a proper licensing system and regulatory measures.
International control of narcotic drugs is attained through International agreements and conventions reached between nations under the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs to which India is a signatory.
Apart from regulatory measures to control alcoholism and drug addiction, the system of licensing physicians to give drugs to addicts at a reasonable rate also helps in preventing their exploitation from the underworld peddlers and thus mitigating this crime.
In India, various legislative measures have been introduced to control alcoholism and sale of alcoholic beverages. Several States introduced prohibition laws during the preceding decades. The Prohibition Enquiry Committee appointed by the Planning Commission in its report of June, 1955, recommended that the scheme of prohibition and anti-drug should be integrated with the country’s development plans with a view to control alcoholism and improve the standard of living of the people.
The Committee also suggested that a Central Prohibition Committee be established to review the progress of prohibition and co-ordinate the related activities in different States. Accepting the recommendations of the Committee the Lok Sabha by a resolution passed on March 19, 1956 made prohibition an integral part of the Second Five-Year Plan. In result, several States introduced regulatory measures to curb the tendency of alcoholism. Some States resorted to complete prohibition while others preferred to follow a phased programme.
Despite these prohibitory measures to control alcoholism, the consumption of liquor and other intoxicating drugs has hardly been reduced. The theory of creating scarcity of liquor by prohibitory laws with a view to discouraging ‘drinking’ habit has not yielded desired results.
On the contrary, demand for liquor has all the more increased and opened new vistas for blackmailing, smuggling and illicit distilling. The Government have realised that strict laws prohibiting sale and consumption of alcohol have not delivered the goods and the policy needs to be reviewed once again.
In fact, the consumption of wine and liquor has taken the shape of a fashion in today’s ultra modern societies. Therefore, it cannot be curbed by prohibitory laws unless people who habitually drink voluntarily give it up. It is for this reason that many States have withdrawn their prohibition-laws and are content with a balanced regulatory policy under which liquor is available for sale only in licensed shops at a fair price.
The heavy loss of revenue due to “dry-laws” is perhaps the real cause which has prompted the States to withdraw ‘prohibition’. Presumably, the State Governments prefer to risk the dangers of alcoholism rather than losing crores of rupees by way of revenue. In result, the liquor industry has thrived in huge proportions and has gained importance among the public in spite of continued opposition.
As stated earlier, Article 47 of the Constitution of India contains a mandate relating to policy of prohibition. It casts a duty on the Union and the States to initiate adequate measures to implement this directive principle for improvement of public health. This subject is at present in the State List.
But in view of the laxity on the part of State Governments to implement the policy of prohibition on liquor, it is desirable that a national policy on the subject be framed. This would obviously require the transference of this subject from State List to the Union List as a Central subject. The consumption of liquor at public places, functions, farewells and receptions etc. must be totally banned and violation of liquor laws should be severely dealt with.