Shocking turnaround for state.
By Rajiv Theodore
NEW DELHI: God made Kerala at leisure, breathing into it a fine balance of timeless beauty and divine elegance. He took time to smooth the rough edges and decorate it with stunning beaches, lush green fauna and rolling hills just to name a miniscule part of the geography. But today it is home for the largest number of dipsomaniacs, it has a rapidly growing population of cancer patients and now the latest shocker of all—74 % of the children between the age group 5-18 in the state use tobacco.
This shocking result was revealed in a study done by National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences where a total of 119 children were covered examining their pattern, profile and substance use. Alcohol, tobacco and inhalants are common initial substances of abuse and have been described as ‘gateway substances’. These substances are easily available to the children, according to the revelations in the research.
Most of these products are not illegal and there is some form of social acceptance for their use. However, the use of these “gateway substances” increases the subsequent risk of transition to harder and illicit substances.
The study is part of a nationwide exercise under the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) which had closely examined 4,024 children across 27 states and two union territories of the country.
Kerala has been in the news recently again for the wrong reasons. The state has the highest per capita liquor consumption in the country (over 8 liters per person a year), surpassing traditionally hard-drinking states such as Punjab and Haryana. It’s estimated that 5 per cent of the state’s population (roughly one in 10 men) is addicted to liquor.
In another shocking revelation, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy revealed that the state has the highest number of cancer patients in the country. Out of every one lakh males, 133 persons suffer from the disease while in the case of females, it is 123 for every one lakh females. The prevalence of the disease has now even prompted the creation of a matrimonial website to find life partners for cancer survivors in the state.
All this simply point to one direction, mindless changes in lifestyles, advent of fast-food, peer pressure, break-up of the family system and general pressures of population on the environment that had once protected the balance only to be thrown in a disarray by the actions of its thoughtless mortals.
(Rajiv Theodore is India Bureau Chief, The American Bazaar.)
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