Sanjha Morcha

Theatre of the absurd Don’t reduce drug tests to a farce

Theatre of the absurd

A NEW demonstration of political piety is participating in drug tests in Punjab—in the full glare of the media, naturally. The unseemly hurry with which politicians are taking tests is unfortunate. Even as the people of Punjab would like reassurance about the “clean” status of their political leaders, they would be far better served by leaders who cleaned up the state. Indeed, the challenge before the state is to remove the scourge of drug abuse and thereby save the future generations from going to waste. Far more critical than Capt Amarinder Singh’s offer to take the test is his announcement that all government employees would be required to submit to an annual inspection. Along with this, the move to make such tests compulsory for all those who seek government service as employment is something that is likely to have a ripple effect. Government jobs are the most sought after, and thus all aspirants would have to ensure that they are drug-free. Since aspirants far outnumber employees, there is a powerful incentive for the young Punjabis to steer clear of drugs. This rule applies to the police also,  both those who aspire to be in uniform and those already in the force. The issue of drug abuse is complicated and needs a multi-pronged approach, based on a nuanced understanding of the problems — unemployment that has made it difficult for the youth to be meaningfully engaged, education that does not empower them with enough skills to get jobs, general disenchantment, and the easy availability of drugs. Just concentrating on the addicts and low-level peddlers is not enough. The clampdown on the trade has to come from the top—the politicians and the police need to be held accountable. The involvement of a shockingly high number of police personnel is dismaying. They have to be weeded out ruthlessly. Instead of posing at photo-ops, political leaders should do their duty in providing the leadership and the atmosphere that will ensure a drug-free Punjab.