Parents, schools, drugs & Hyderabad

THE HANS INDIA |   Jul 14,2017 , 04:03 AM IST


Narcotic drugs are not new to the world. Nefarious drugs, its abuse and its addiction are prevalent since early 70s. However, what’s new and unsettling is its all-pervasive presence in the hinterland of India and its availability and abuse by secondary and senior secondary school-going youngsters in Hyderabad.

Narcotics and psychotropic addiction is a killer. It transforms young people into zombies. Those who become chronic drug abusers have rare chances of complete de-addiction, even after external intervention. According to a study, young drug abusers have 90 per cent chances to turn into full blown drug addicts. Their neuro paths can become neuro highways for substance induced pleasure, much easier than in adults.

The youngsters stung by drug addiction during their teenage years have extremely bleak future. Their physical and mental capabilities nose dive to turn them into vegetative condition. Drug dependence, low self esteem, hopelessness can lead to criminal action and even suicidal tendencies. A young narcotics drug addict is as good as dead.

State law enforcement agencies bust a few drug peddlers in urban India once in a blue moon and the mainstream media creates a storm in the tea cup for a week. This does not resolve the raging menace. For once, a senior police officer listed out the schools and put them on spot. I would have appreciated him more, if he could have listed out the VIP drug abusers list from Tollywood and the high society of Hyderabad too, it could have served a larger purpose.

The government, drug peddlers, parents, schools, civil society and young abusers and in that order are accountable and the stakeholders for this unnatural rise of narcotics drug menace. None of these stake-holders can wish away their accountability and role.

As long as a state government relies on excise income as a key source of their revenue, narcotics supply and peddling is imminent. Drugs are just one level above alcohol. Increased supply of one paves way for the other. TRS Government's open floodgates excise policy on alcohol has also contributed to the steep rise of narcotic drug abuse in Telangana State.

In the name of ‘Happening Hyderabad’ there is an unprecedented flow of rock concerts in Telangana State in the last three years. Swirling, whirling dervish dancers lost in the high of drugs is an ordinary visual at these concerts. I wonder if this is also a part of the 'Bangaru Telangana' (Golden Telangana) plan as promised by the incumbent TRS Government! These concerts are the touch point markets for the young first-timers. 

It's where the peddlers get the underage youth hooked on alcohol and drugs. Policing and enforcement of excise laws are rare at these events and concerts. The organisers know the management of the machinery. The underage youth at these events get a freewheeling and first-time inducement to the high of alcohol and narcotic drugs, in quick succession at these events. Once a youngster connects to this market, the market follows the youngster on social media. Most youngsters are hooked for life, at these concerts. The demand - supply chain gets established.

I strongly believe, most parents have lost their right to complain. There's hardly any real parenting these days. Irresponsible, ignorant, shallow parents, who themselves are bereft of any strong value system can't nurture great children.

Caught up in a false trap of westernisation, modern high life and financially enabled with high paying IT & ITES jobs, most parents are frogs in their own wells with limited exposure and knowledge. Guiding and nurturing testosterone high teenagers of this generation is a craft driven out of serious accountability, which most parents seem to lack.

I have heard of parents personally packing beer and vodka bottles for their teenage boys and girls going out to party late nights. I have also heard of parents personally shopping for shortest possible club and party wear to keep their sons and daughters ahead of the pack in fashion.

Parents are giving thousands of rupees as pocket money for school-going students as young as 12 or 13 years of age. They are driven by their own ignorant comparison and competition with peers and colleagues. Literally, there is a parental competition to 'High Life' at play in most of the 'Branded Private Schools'. Mostly it is not about the marks and grades, it’s mostly about the peripheral areas.  Eventually, it’s the youngsters who get destroyed in this no holds barred power play.

The aspirational upper middle class is at this game on a daily basis. There's competition in dressing, vehicles, looks, gadgets, pocket money and of course the school brands for the children. Hyderabad has never seen in its historic time line the sheer number of rock concerts, partying events, private parties, alcohol stores, pubs and mini breweries. Most of these inducing touch points are packed with underage youngsters. It looks as if; parents and the government enforcement agencies are willfully looking the other way. Do parents still have a right to complain?

Private schools cannot shirk off from accountability. Schools are institutions which shape the character and destiny of the young. Education no matter how modern, CBSE/ ICSE/ IB/ Cambridge or any other national or international format means nothing, if it cannot build values which can enable young people to make right choices.  If they are making dangerously wrong choices, there is serious issue with priorities in educating the young. 

Schools can't restrict themselves to educating just conceptual knowledge driven through curriculum, if a young person is spending over half his conscious time on campus. Even going by the time share of the young people's life at these 'educational institutions', its bearing on the schools to take responsibility at least partially for the quality of youngsters they are producing, especially when the branded private schools charge a fortune to the parents in the name of modern format of education.

The quality of teachers, their skills sets, their value systems and their knowledge dissemination methods or the lack of it cannot be masqueraded with smart terminology. The influence of teachers, their personal and professional quality bears on the young minds forever in life. Schools need to take a serious relook at their recruitment methods and assess the teachers in all-round qualities.

Training and upgradation in critical skills have to be consistent and continuous. Individuals, whose personality frame work, communication, knowledge and professional conduct do not qualify basic social acceptability standards, cannot become teachers. What can they really teach?

Not all private branded schools can be written off. A private school I have known for years, takes good initiatives and the management sincerely promotes great values in their students like “live life the lean way”, “character first - competence next”, “stay – simple”, “give to poor” and so on. These initiatives might not fully insulate their students from the outside inducements, at least they are trying to positively impact their youngsters. This one is a rare school. However, there's a humongous lot to do for the schools to be re-recognised as “Centres of Excellence”.

Unfortunately, there are some branded private schools who are churning out socially unfit young people. Their management and teachers seem to have adopted a commercial format of high revenue focused education. These types of branded schools are growing by the day; all kinds of investors are entering this space to make quick money in the name of school education.

These schools promote extravaganza, over indulgence and high life. Some of these schools even host birthdays, fresher’s parties, rock shows on campus and at resorts and clubs to underage students. The mad rush by parents for the 'high-end school' tag drives huge revenues for every admission season. 

It further nudges the schools to do the unthinkable by adopting these commercial and unethical tactics, which destroys the youngsters at a critical phase of their life. All this is happening in the name of “School Education”.

The aspirational, identity seeking, insecure upper middle class and the affluent class relate to the high-end brands even for schooling and its worry only for positioning in the market. These kinds of parents are either oblivious of the ills or willfully indulgent. Either ways the wrong exposure to majority of these youngsters at an early phase, impact them negatively for the rest of their life.

The civil society is no holy cow either. Comparisons, competition, identity, image are wrongly established in the society throughout the demographics and socio-economic strata. There are no value filters of the indigenous culture and traditional ethos. Univocal importance to money, material exhibition is almost a new norm. There is an all-time low valuation to character, talent, knowledge and values. This is the key for the ensuing disaster and blatant substance abuse in youngsters.

All pervasive shallowness of knowledge across board and lack of larger dimension of thinking in all stake-holders is a rot in the education system. Parents, teachers and civil society have been led to considering everything 'Non-Indian' as great and modern and everything 'Indian' as low value and ancient.

When a society values just the 'end' and not the means to an end, it loses its soul. Unfortunately, this kind of value process is underway in India.Lack of knowledge is being masqueraded with modern articulation. There is utter disregard for indigenous values and ethos. There is shallow and narrow interpretation and definition of greatness, success, modernism, education and learning. 

How can such a society produce great young people? That's why it is producing clones of its own fallacy. Substance abuse is just one of the deviations. There are many more discrepancies that are impacting our young, in far more dangerous ways. I wish, all the stake-holders will stop and reflect from their regular grind. If there is no course correction in the system, it would not be too long before the much-proclaimed asset of this nation “Indian youth” turn into a massive liability.

By: Krishna Saagar Rao
The writer is a BJP Spokesperson, an Organisational Strategist & an author