Rahul Gandhi may have tried to score easy political points by saying seven out of 10 youths in Punjab are in the grip of drugs,but in their reaction,Punjab politicians have not shown any more maturity.
From experts to the man on the street,the states drug abuse crisis is open knowledge. As the Congress was quick to point out the day after Rahuls remarks led to a furore,the Punjab government had itself quoted a study in an affidavit to the high court giving approximately the same numbers.
Even a sample survey can bring out the growing extent of addiction in the state. Or a look at the large number of youths from the state whose applications for recruitment to paramilitary forces and police are getting rejected because of their inability to pass physical endurance tests. The state that once boasted of top athletes,with its universities topping all-India sports competitions,now finds itself struggling to figure anywhere in the picture.
Some experts even warn that the drug menace will take a much higher toll of youths in the state than those dark years of militancy did.
Still,Rahuls statement was used by the state government as an opportunity to lay the blame at the Centres door,saying it was the porous international border that was letting in the drugs.
While there is no doubt that the exact number of drug addicts in the state remains a matter of dispute given that a proper survey has never been conducted,Punjab would benefit if everyone concerned on both sides acknowledged the problem and tackled it with the same energy as was expended on countering or defending the Congress general secretary.
Vipin is editor,Chandigarh
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