Youths, Drugs and Justice: Absence of Smooth Transition

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By Amar Yumnam

Recently we have been receiving news about the arrest of youths on criminal grounds. The latest in this genre is the arrest of two drug addicts with items they had stolen over a period of time. While the law enforcing agency might claim credit for their performance, we are not sure if we should really be feeling as well and share in their glory. We should remember that the youths increasingly being caught for such crimes are those who should either be in the employment market or in the higher education sector pursuing further education in lines of their liking. One cannot help wondering if it would not have been a much richer society where youths should actually be doing so rather than being objects for self-conceit by the law enforcing agencies.

The Issue: An answer to the above choice would necessarilyinvolve an examination of the social scenario prevailing in our society and thenature of education we are making the youths subject to. Here there is afundamental need to reassess the roles, dynamics and delivery of the differentstages of education in Manipur.

We can visualise three core objectives of schooleducation (upto the twelfth standard). First, education till the end ofsecondary level should prepare the youths for appropriate orientation and backgroundknowledge for modernisation. It is the stage during which a scientific outlookwould be instilled among the future generations. Second, education during thisperiod should prepare the youths for entry into higher education. The manner ofeducation provision during this period should enable the youths to reorientthemselves as to their preparation for the next stage of their life. Third,education by the end of the secondary stage should prepare the youths for entryinto the employment market for those who do not have the orientation for highereducation and also those whose families cannot afford; the role of the state isaltogether a different issue here.

From these objectives of school education, it is easilyevident that completion of the twelfth standard is a very significanttransition period. In any society, the degree of smoothness or turbulence ofthe transition would differ from one youth to the other. Nevertheless, itremains the mandatory responsibility of any society and state that the transitionshould be made as smooth as possible. This is particularly because we aredealing with a very impressionable phase in the life of individuals.

Manipur Picture: Unfortunately in the case of Manipur, this transitionis anything but smooth. The youths are very adversely impacted upon by thisabsolute turbulence in the transition over which they have no control, andwhich is not the result of their doing. The turbulence characterises both theemployment market and the education sector. The adverse impact of theseturbulences starts manifestation in the case of Manipur from about the time theyouths enter eighth standard.

The employment market in the State is absolutelyminiscule with the supply far outstripping demand. Even worse, this market is aden of injustices. While we were students, we could dream that if we are goodin studies we would in due course be able to escape from poverty and theaccompanying limitations. But in the case of the job market in Manipur today,the outcome has nothing to do with a youth’s capability and sincerity. Thislesson has been in active circulation for at least about two decades or so withrising ferocity so much so that the emerging generations of youths cannotafford to wait for the transition to take place in peace.

One important role of higher education, besidesinculcating superior knowledge, is the postponement of pressure on job marketby retaining the youths in the education sector. But unfortunately in the caseof Manipur the higher education scenario at the colleges is in absoluteshambles thanks to the own efforts of the state. The youths coming out of theschools are not provided with a kind of education delivery mechanism in thecolleges whereby at least those academically oriented can bank upon. In otherwords, in addition to the lapses in normal imparting of superior knowledge, ourcolleges have as well failed to be the shock absorbers of labour marketpressures. We should, however, hasten to add that this outcome is not theresult of efforts by the colleges themselves but because of governancefailures.

All these realities of absence of a smooth transitionand the non-existence of a just outcome at the end of the tunnel have made ouryouths absolutely restless and prone to addiction to drugs. Once in it, thecrimes overtake them. What a pitiable society we are in where the youths arenot given the opportunity to dream; even a fresh Ph.D. graduate would questionthe necessity of reading.

But the crimes lie altogether in a different sphere. Wehave subjected our youths to all the injustices which they cannot digest norcan they understand. Concentrating only on bringing to book the addicted youthsthrough the strong hand of the law enforcing agencies would amount toaddressing the substantive grievances without ever bothering at the root causesof the issues involved. This approach is like the Kadi way of deliveringjustice where the judge is absolutely arbitrary and emotions of the partiesrule. We should not be converting all our youths into Billy Budd of HermanMelville. The innocent and non-guilty Billy Budd became a scapegoat for all thewrongs done by others. I really long for a society where the personnel of thelaw enforcing agency would not ever have the opportunity to showcase arrest ofdrug-addicted youths as milestones in their performance.

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