Shillong ( Meghalaya ), May 11 : Union Minister for the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Dr. Virendra Kumar, on Thursday , May 11, inaugurated a Chintan Shivir (brainstorming session) at the state Convention Centre here . The event aims to facilitate discussions on the principles of “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” (Collective Efforts, Inclusive Development) and explore ways to promote the welfare and progress of society.
During the inauguration ceremony, Dr. Virendra Kumar emphasized that the event serves as an ideal platform for discussing and facilitating the overall development of society. In particular, he mentioned the importance of addressing the timely distribution of pre-matric and post-matric scholarships for students from scheduled castes and tribes.
‘’The government aims to monitor and ensure efficient implementation of these initiatives through such Shivirs,’’ he said.
DP Wahlang, IAS, Chief Secretary of Meghalaya, delivered the welcome address at the event, emphasizing the significance of the ‘Nasha Mukht Abhiyan’ in combating substance abuse and addiction. He highlighted that the two-day gathering aimed to facilitate shared learning and collaboration, focusing on developing an action plan for the implementation of ‘Vision 2047.’
The Nasha Mukht Bharat Abhiyaan, a nationwide campaign for a drug-free zone, was launched in India on October 2, 2014. The campaign has made significant progress in 372 identified districts across the country. With the dedicated efforts of over 8,000 master volunteers, the campaign has reached out to a staggering 3.10 crore individuals, including 1.20 crore youth and over 31 lakh women.
Highlighting various policies adopted by the Government of Meghalaya for effective implementation of Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyan, Paul Lyngdoh, the Minister of Social Welfare, Meghalaya , highlighted the goals and targets of the government through the Drugs Reduction, Elimination, and Action Mission (DREAM) program. He emphasized the need to address substance abuse in a more structured and mission-oriented manner.
He stated, “The mission is steered through a three-pronged framework to achieve its objectives: social mobilization, setting up enabling support systems, and drug regulation law procedure. The DREAM mission seeks to incorporate the lifecycle approach and build upon the existing Drug Abuse Prevention Policy, 2020.”
On the other hand, Sampath Kumar, the Development Commissioner and Principal Secretary of the Government of Meghalaya, delivered a presentation on the progress and initiatives of the ‘Nasha Mukht Abhiyan.’ He shared concerning statistics related to substance abuse in Meghalaya, including a high tobacco usage rate of 47% among the population. Additionally, the state has a significant proportion of child heroin users at 27.3%, and the consumption of alcohol and opioids surpasses the national average, indicating a worrying trend. Kumar also highlighted the rise in crime rates linked to drug peddling, emphasizing the detrimental impact of substance abuse on society.
‘’As of now, the center has 170 OPD patients, out of which 118 have been discharged, and 87 IPD patients who are sober. Twelve patients have graduated, 15 have been reintegrated back to school, and 15 patients’ status is unknown. The center has also recorded 36 cases of clients who have relapsed,’’ Kumar added.
It may be mentioned that Meghalaya government has undertaken significant initiatives to tackle this pressing issue. One notable initiative is the sponsorship of the Kripa Foundation De-Addiction Centre for Children, which was inaugurated on March 30, 2021. The center has already catered to the needs of over 308 individuals, demonstrating its commitment to promoting a healthier and drug-free society.
Resonating with the participants and reaffirming the commitment towards building a more inclusive and prosperous society. Saurabh Garg, Secretary of the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, Govt of India, spoke on the importance of awareness and educational empowerment. Garg emphasized the urgent need to create widespread awareness about critical social issues and emphasized the transformative power of education in empowering individuals.
The event centered around the theme of social justice and empowerment, bringing together government officials and ministers to discuss key topics such as creating a drug-free India, youth skill development, welfare of senior citizens, and the well-being of scheduled castes and tribes. The aim of the event was to combat substance abuse, uplift marginalized communities, and foster an inclusive society.
The two-day Chintan Shivir will host various sessions, bringing together representatives from eight Northeastern states, including Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura, and Sikkim.
Additionally, participants from Union Territories such as Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadar & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Chandigarh, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Delhi, Ladakh, and Jammu & Kashmir will actively engage in brainstorming sessions.