The 'drugs' Menace…. !!
By Maxwell Pereira
Jt. Commissioner of Police/Traffic, Delhi

I got talking to the 'narcotics' prevention guys, the other day. And what they revealed to me, needs sharing. Especially on what the present scenario is.

We made a lot of noise in the early and mid 80s bringing in the NDPS Act trying to put the shits into people's minds that it'd be a minimum of ten year's kaput incarceration out of civilization's reach if ever you got caught with the stuff on you. Then in the days that followed we had a lot more hype over the issue, and some of us made a haul in terms of reward moneys the government was generous with, for detections leading to the recovery of narcotics from dealers wheelers and smugglers of the stuff.

The situation got more grim with the onset of narco-terrorism, even while seizures in Delhi kept growing smaller and smaller - enough to bring on a smile of disdainful scorn on the faces of those of us whose seizures used to be in hundreds of KGs, as compared to the ones being effected in recent years which totaled mostly in terms of grams not KGs. And as one continued hearing of the joints around the bus-adda and the university riddled with smack addicts, one could definitely discern a steady decline in the narcotics activity - perhaps enough to make the authorities entrusted with the task of preventing its usage and proliferation let grass grow under their feet.

Next to terrorism, the number one problem the world has been facing, is the problem of Narcotic Drugs. While the serpent of terrorism may not be everywhere, drugs can be tracked to every nook and corner on terra firma, leading one to wonder whether we are at all living in a free drugs society. Dealing in narcotics has been taken to such sophisticated levels, and organized syndicates are running these rackets in some countries like Columbia, Bolivia and Peru (for Cocaine); Pakistan, Iran & Afghanistan (for heroin); Mynmar, Laos and Thailand (for heroin). This is common knowledge.

Afghanistan alone is producing 3400 metric tons(MT) of opium every year and this entire lot is used for manufacturing heroin, which is then smuggled to various western countries and India. There is support by Iran and Pakistan. And India is being used as transit - notwithstanding its potential for consumption too - which fact, perhaps we are all trying to turn a blind eye to. The smuggled heroin travels way down to South India, then on to Sri Lanka, the gateway for drug smugglers to send heroine to the western world. The Drug industry is estimated to be worth billions of dollars throughout the world.

The world woke up to this dangerous situation and held a number of international conventions and India is a signatory to almost all of these. The first important one - the 'Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs 1961' aimed at consolidating existing international instruments on control of Narcotics drugs and also at simplification of the control measures and control of poppy straw. This convention was further amended by the 'Protocol of 1972 Amendment to the Single Convention'.

The Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971 included amphetamines, due to the increase in cases of poisoning brought about by amphetamines in many parts of the world. Similarly, the UN Convention against illicit traffic of Narcotic drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988 and the SAARC Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1990 etc. are further international endeavours to control drugs.

Even so, the drug situation is known to be worsening. The scenario in India is no less grim than elsewhere, as India is also producing 1300 MT of world's opium. The horrifying fact being, that almost 20% of the licit opium is being diverted for illicit purposes i.e. for production of heroin. Which means 260 MT of opium being used for heroin production, resulting in 26 MT of heroin produced in India every year. 10 KGs. of opium is said to give 1 KG of super fine heroin. This data is mind boggling and hence, I believe, it is time for us not to be complacent. Instead of accusing other countries, perhaps we would do well to see our own faces in the mirror and try to curb the ever increasing menace of drugs through effective measures.

India is a country where umemployment and poverty are in rampant. And frustrated youth fall an easy prey to drugs because of the lure of easy money and huge profits. The Government has created a full-fledges Narcotics Control Bureau, and in the Delhi Police too there is a Narcotics Prevention Cell. Despite major handicaps in adequate infrastructure and resources, it is heartening to note that the Delhi Police Unit has been coming up with periodical detections that keep dotting the media lines now and again. But there is need to do more. There is a case for taking the drug menace even more seriously than it has so far been dealt with, and for strengthening the hands of those entrusted with the sacred task of ridding our society of this menace.

(The author can be reached at or his email: ) 850words. 19.08.2003: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// and


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