India’s Drug Problem: Vimarsh Talk by Mr Jayant Misra- Remarks by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director-VIF

Friends

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to today’s Vimarsh talk by Shri Jayant Misra on a highly relevant and contemporary topic “India’s Drug Problem”.

We have all seen the recent reports about a seizureof 3000 kilos of heroin hidden in a talcum powder consignment that originated from Afghanistan and came to India’s Mundra port via Iran. This massive drug haul was one of the latest seizures in a series stretching back to a few months. Our Coast Guard and the Navy have also intercepted several vessels carrying narcotics on the high seas.

According to a report on substance abuse by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, AIIMS, about 2.8 per cent of the population (3.1 crores) is reported to be using cannabis and nearly 1.08 crore is on sedatives.

Clearly, India has a massive drug abuse problem which we should talk about.

I would like to welcome Shri Jayant Misra who has agreed to talk to us about this issue.

Shri Jayant Misra is an Indian Revenue Service officer with a distinguished career spanning over three decades.

He was Chairman, Settlement Commission for Indirect Taxes, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance from 2017-19.

He is a specialist on non-traditional security threats such as drug trafficking, money laundering and terror financing.

He is presently a Consultant Drug Law Enforcement, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – Regional Office South Asia.
During his service, he held high profile assignments including Director General of Revenue Intelligence.

He has participated in several multilateral negotiations.

He has extensive administrative, legislative, dispute resolution and intelligence gathering experience.

He taught at Allahabad University before joining the Government of India in 1981.

Illegal trafficking in drugs, narcotics and banned substances is a matter of global concern. The proceeds from illegal drug trafficking narcotics trade finance terrorismorganised crime.

Drugs and narcotics find their way into societies. Millions of people across the world, poor or rich, or using banned substances and getting addicted. The social and economic costs for society are enormous.

Illicit drug trafficking is a matter of international security. The illicit drug trade money, estimated to be about one percent of global GDP, not only finances violent crime and terrorism, it also finds its way into the economies of countries and perpetuates an endless cycle of corruption, economic loss and societal weakness.

There are several international conventions and organisations which promote cooperation amongst different states. Yet, the problem is growing.

India

India is highly vulnerable to drug trafficking. It is surrounded by unstable regions in the West and East – the Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent - which are among the world’s largest producers of cannabis, opium, heroin, and other banned substances. Many of these drugs and narcotics transit through India.

The incidence of illegal use of drugs in Indian society is rising. In 2019, more than 72,000 cases of illicit drug use were registered across the country. The figure was about 61,000 in 2017. Many cases probably go unreported. In the last few years, we have seen several high-profile cases of drug usage. India has to be extremely sensitive to the growing use of drugs by our youth. The young generation can be destroyed by narcotics misuse.
The increasing shift from traditional to New Psychotropic Substances or synthetic drugs is a matter of great concern. These are thousands of times more powerful than heroin and cheaper to procure.

Drugs and narcotics also pose a major national security threat. Our adversaries are pushing drugs into India to hook the youth to substance dependence. India has a fairly evolved system to deal with this menace.

The narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act is the main legal tool for the fight against drugs.

Various Indian law enforcement agencies, both at the Centre and the states, particularly the Narcotics Control Bureau, have been given the responsibility to fight this menace. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence is also involved in stemming the flow of drugs through illegal consignments.
For coordination among various Central and State Agencies, the Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD) mechanism was set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the year 2016 for effective Drug Law Enforcement.

A Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) with Director General (DG), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) as its Chairman was set up by Govt. of India on 19 July 2019.

For digitization of pan-India drug seizure data, MHA has launched an e-portal called “SIMS” (Seizure Information Management System) in the year 2019.
India is a signatory to these conventions and has active cooperation with them. It also has cooperation with various countries.

As a part of International cooperation, India has signed 26 Bilateral Agreements, 15 Memoranda of Understanding & 2 Agreements on Security Cooperation with different countries for combating illicit trafficking of NDPS and Chemical Precursors as well as related offences.

However, in reference to the scale of the problem, our efforts need to be scaled up. First, we have to recognise that narcotics is an extremely important national security issue. Second, we have to raise awareness so that people, particularly parents and children are aware of the scale of the problem. Without parental and societal involvement, the problem cannot be handled effectively. Third, our agencies have to be properly manned, equipped and trained. Border security has to be tightened. Scrutiny of consignments at ports and airports has to be improved through better use of modern technology.
We also have to be proactive with international agencies and other countries.

Sh. Misra is eminently placed to take us to talk us through India’s drug problems and how we are dealing with them. I would like to thank him for joining us today for this talk.

I request him to take the floor.

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