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Manipuri dance to fight drug addiction? / on why govt needs research n strategy planners.

26th June is apparently the international day against drug addiction. It was also the day we decided to see a manipuri dance show. It was after reaching the venue that we realised that the Manipuri dance show owed its existence to the ministry of culture/ anti drug body of Indian govt. So as is wont to happen in such a circumstance, there was less of dance and more singing of paeans for the officials who 'made it possible'.
The dance recital that was to start at 7 30, started at around 8:45. and yet, none of the audience members left the hall before the end of the show.. presumably because besides us (we are extremely patient people), almost every body else (all 30 of them) were in some way related to the performers.
Firstly, the purported purpose.

The government spent the money it did on this show for the purpose of spreading awareness about the harms of drugs. According to officials who bored us with 1990's slides presentation, the main Target audience for the communication were young people. and yet they were talking about this in a show where there was not a single young person in attendance.(who came there voluntarily)

Lesson #1 to the anti-Drug body of govt: BE WHERE YOUR AUDIENCE IS. 
You want young kids to stop taking drugs. a manipuri dance show is perhaps not the best way to go about it. Believe me.
"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Lesson #2: KNOW YOUR TG
Not the stats. not the societal assumptions that typically are damagingly wrong. DON'T ASSUME SHIT YOU DON'T KNOW. The clueless officers talked about rave parties about 15 times. It was as if that was the only venue and cause of drug abuse. Funny enough, they didn't talk about why someone takes drugs or what are the signs to detect addiction among your loved ones. Nor did they talk about what to do to undergo de-addiction. Whom to approach. Or about deaddiction help available elsewhere...
No. They did not provide a single piece of information that was in anyway useful. Instead they talked about various kinds of drugs and where it comes from (the crescent and the triangle) and 'Just say no'. a fucking GK presentation made in powerpoint '95.

Hire an MR agency (or me) Do secondary research if you don't have the money. just bloody read work of other people - even popular journalism can be a good start - Read this Tehelka article for instance. Your drug busting raids are clearly not giving you insights into the minds of the addict.
 
Lesson #3: Just say No to "Just say NO"
that slogan is useless. i feel it is more harmful than it is useful.
Firstly, it's a command to the drug user by a clueless non drug user. It is a top down message, exactly the thing that a typical anti-establishment person/ angry at the world person/ pained beyond comprehension of others person - might take as a justification for their drug use. (and these are my terrible terrible assumption. perhaps I am wrong. and hence the research and an attempt to emotionally reach out on a person to person basis is necessary.)
It pits the non users against the user, alienating the vulnerable users further.
the strategy should be for the non-user group to try and understand the user group.
How will 'just saying no' take care of all the personal issues/ traumas/ pressures that leads a person to do drugs in the first place?
Secondly, where is the insight? It does not try to identify with the drug user. As a matter of fact, it doesn't communicate with the drug user at all.. it only talks to the righteous idiots who want the users to stop. It talks to people who do not want to invest time and money in understanding their brothers in trouble, but want to feel superior about themselves. "You don't know what is good for you. But I do. I am superior. Listen to me. Just say No." 

Lesson #4: More Listening, less gyan

Listening might be a good strategy not just for the parents but also the government.
The strategy should focus on the why's of addiction - the sociological, economical & emotional responses that can make the drug use option repugnant before one starts.

Modiji, please hire a few smart people from private sector.. we have way too many people engineering behaviors to sell soaps, but not enough to incentivise wiser life strategies.

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