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Parenting crisis in Aryan (Khan) civilisation

The reengineering of the institution of the Indian family seems responsible for the slow and steady slide of Indian Youngistan into addiction.

Published: 24th October 2021 07:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th October 2021 05:30 PM   |  A+A-

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan being taken to jail after being arrested by NCB.

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan being taken to jail after being arrested by NCB. (File Photo | PTI)

Bollywood is on a high, if the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) would have us believe. The drug demon is haunting B-Town with the hellfire of punitive perception, both political and personal. It has been a while since Fardeen Khan was caught with coke and Mamata Kulkarni was the accused in India’s biggest-ever drug racket worth Rs 2,000 crore. Then, came the murky story of Sushant Rajput and Rhea Chakraborty, with the actress being witch-hunted as an international drug moll which earned her traumatising months in prison. Now, it’s the turn of the privileged Aryan Khan, megastar Shah Rukh Khan’s eldest son.

Only a few months ago, he had returned from the US after graduating in Fine Arts and Television Production. Evidently, he planned to walk in his father’s footsteps. Instead, he was frogmarched to a jail accused of a crime which is now part of the daily lifestyle of adolescents and adults — the wealthier the youth, the higher the score. Since modern India is exposed to global fashion, education and lifestyle, many young Indians are picking up the habit with a vengeance.

On October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, Aryan boarded a cruise ship for a weekend rave party with his friends. Within a few hours, an NCB team nabbed him and his buddies for using and peddling drugs. Whether the charges are true or not, only a proper probe will reveal. But the high-profile arrest and the subsequent raid on SRK’s home has beamed the spotlight on the burgeoning drug culture among Indian youth. For the past few months, drug consumption by the rich and famous has been grabbing the headlines. More than a dozen known and unknown stars and starlets have been either caught or summoned by the drug agency for interrogation. Mumbai’s NCB office looks like a film set with TV camera crews competing to get TRP-grabbing shots of dressed-down celebrities in swanky cars arriving for interrogation. Almost all of them are under 40 years old. Many are the progeny of film stars and wealthy, well-connected businesspersons. The youngsters also are from Ivy League schools and colleges. And all of them are charged with drug use or peddling. Are we living in Udta Bharat? Over 30 million Indians are officially registered as habitual drug addicts. 

Suddenly, India is in news for its younger generation getting as high as a kite but brought down to earth by the vigilant hawks in drug enforcement. A social shift in narcotics consumption has made drugs a high-profile crime. Previously, many junkies were from the lower and middle class who used cheap dadah. Now the drug business has become upscale with benzodiazepines, methamphetamine, crack, cocaine, black tar heroin, phencyclidine (PCP), synthetic cannabinoids, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), 5-MeO-DMT, Bufotenine, etc — all home delivered by a super sophisticated narco network. Substances don’t come cheap.  Five grams of any drug costs over Rs 10,000. According to investigating agencies, over 100 rave parties are held in our metropolitan cities on any given day where dope worth more than a million dollars is consumed.

With over $700 billion in sales, the narcotics trade is the third largest global enterprise after arms and petroleum. The 500 per cent rise in drug busts worldwide during the past decade reflects a growing demand. Since less than 15 per cent of the actual stock is captured by the authorities, it means drugs are penetrating far more towns and cities than a few years ago. During the past couple of months, agencies confiscated 3,000 kg of heroin in Gujarat. Though over 70 per cent of narcotics originate from Afghanistan and Americas, it is distributed mostly in Asia including India.

The target of the drug syndicates is youth everywhere. Youngsters today not only have more spending power but are also aggressively insisting on the freedom to live their own way. Liberal parents helplessly acquiesce, hoping they will become successful citizens. If poverty is driving undernourished and impoverished youth to drugs in African and Asian countries, excessive money and freedom of choice is converting children and youth in the Western and the developing world into junkies. From Toronto to Thiruvanthapuram, agencies and social workers are grappling with this tragedy, with some users even committing suicide. Yet, the number of hophead youngsters is rising alarmingly.

India is more vulnerable to the drug plague due to its social and economic complexities. In a nation of 1.3 billion people, over 500 million young people are in the 10-35 year age group. They are easy prey for drug peddlers. In fact, Punjab is the first state where drug addiction became a high-profile problem. Every fifth adult was consuming drugs on a daily basis. But now almost every state in the country is a profitable drug market for dealers. The nexus between the police, narcotics sleuths and the drug mafia is playing havoc with society.

The reengineering of the institution of the Indian family seems responsible for the slow and steady slide of Indian Youngistan into addiction. With the collapse of the joint family system, the mechanism of keeping an eye on the habits of children and teenagers has broken down. Parents are less involved in the lives of their children. In many urban families where both parents are working, they rarely spend time with their kids. According to credible research, their lifestyles significantly affect the habits of their offspring. Most middle class and rich couples are obsessed with socialising. Many parents themselves love snorting lines, leaving their children home with gadgets and open gates. Sometimes, this happens in the presence of their grown-up children. The kids hence demand the same freedom. Some studies have found that neglectful parents force their children to look for alternative sources of company and, in the process, they fall into the drug trap. Being part of an exclusive drug club is a sign of pride. And influential folks are able to save their munchkins from the clutches of the law.

According to unofficial sources, every 10th high school or college-going girl or a boy in major towns is now consuming one or the other variety of drugs at least a week. Research on the parenting styles regarding adolescents with a history of alcohol and drug use identifies four primary parenting styles — “Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive, and Neglectful.” According to the findings, “Authoritarian and neglectful styles are associated with the highest risk of adolescent addiction, while the risk is lower with authoritative and permissive parenting style. Children who grow up to be well-rounded adults have parents who are nurturing, warm, sensitive, responsive and flexible.”

But if the parents themselves indulge in excessive and visible drug consumption, it spoils their emotional connectivity. Upwardly mobile parents are always struggling to devise ways to be part of the daily lives of their offsprings. They often skip school get-togethers or even parent-teacher meetings, leaving the children to face social isolation. There is hardly any child supervision over the misuse of electronic gadgets like iPhones, iPads, smartphones, laptops etc. Actually physical and emotional closeness between parent and child is replaced by a wireless connectivity with another world which has no social, economic and moral bindings and boundaries. 

As the national mood turns anti-elitist and anti-glamour, there is a talk of dumping the idea of simple living, high thinking with a materialist approach of high living with no thinking. But the high here has a different meaning altogether. And those caught in the trendy existence are left high and dry. 

Prabhu Chawla can be reached at prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.com Follow him on Twitter @PrabhuChawla.



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