In India importance is given to education of children and government has taken considerable efforts in this regards. Tamilnadu is one of the states where the standard of education in government schools is improving. The awareness among the people to educate their children also has increased. Though incidences of child labour, still exists its on declining trend. The future of India lies in the hands of youth. The children of today are youths of tomorrow. It is important that they get educated properly. Market demand based education has to be replaced by value based education. Education which does not inculcate morality is a waste. It is sad to note that our social structure is moving towards a bad culture. Consumption of alcohol, tobacco products and drugs are in increasing trend.
The educational standard in government schools have no doubt increased. But with respect to moral behaviour of children, the rules ands regulations laid by Private schools and stress given by them for moral discipline is ensuring that the children are good, at least during their school going years. But on the contrary, what is happening in rural schools is of big concern
Once I happened to have a chat with a woman who owns a petti shop in a village called Palamedu, Madurai district, Tamilnadu, India. She complained that lot of school children are coming to her petti shop demanding for Pan and Gutkha products (Gutka is a preparation of crushed areca nut (also called betel nut), tobacco, catechu, paraffin, lime and sweet or savory flavorings. It is manufactured in India and exported to a few other countries. A mild stimulant, it is sold across India in small, individual-sized packets that cost between 1 and 6 rupees apiece. It is consumed much like chewing tobacco, and like chewing tobacco it is considered responsible for oral cancer and other severe negative health effects.)
When I talked to few other persons, more shocking news came. As the cost of the Gutkha ( sold in different brands) is only few rupees and since it can be consumed (chewed) easily than cigarettes without other knowledge, school children are getting used to it. Even before going to school in the morning, they purchase Gutkha pockets and go to school. Since the children do not know much about the ill effects and since they are lured by the mild kick it provides, the consumption is on increasing trend.
In Tamiladu sale of such tobacco products is banned. But the ban just remains in paper. It is being sold openly in most of the shops. Yet another women in palamedu said she used to sell 100 boxes of Gutkha every day, most of them being purchase by school students. And this is not the case only with Palamedu. Consumption of gutkha is a common scenario almost among children of all schools in Tamilnadu.
I made a visit to few schools and got more startling revelations. Even girl students have started having the taste of gutkha. Worst the students have invented more innovative ways to get themselves intoxicated. The whitener used for corrections in typed papers and the solution used to fix punctures in cycle tubes are used by school children. The students used to apply whitener in their hand kerchief and inhale the smell, even while sitting in the class room. And with respect to the puncture fixing solution, students used to carry it in their pant pockets along with sachets of water (mineral water is sold in sachets for few rupees). The students after emptying the water pocket, used to put few drops of that puncture fixing solution in the water sachet and start inhaling it. And they used to do it in groups. Worse it happens within the premises of the school itself. And this is spreading to many schools.
The government school teachers could not intervene to these matters beyond some extent. They need the support of the parents too.
- Can such students make a better future generation?
- Why our society is becoming so addicted to alcohol, tobacco and drugs?
- Free flow of alcohol is in villages since government itself sells it. The children know very well that their father will drink and smoke (in some case even mother). How can we expect morality in such children?
- Why Gutkha and other paan products are sold freely in all shops even if a ban exists?
- Recently supreme court has ordered that Gutkha should not be packed in plastic sachets from March, 2011. Is this a real problem compared to consumption of gutkha itself. It will just increase the cost of consumption to the end user and that all.
- Why the persons selling gutkha do not refuse to sell it to children?
- Why the Tamilnadu education department has not initiated any action in this regard?
- What is the responsibility of parents in this regard?
- How many parents know that their children are used to gutkha? It can be easily identified from the oral smell.
- Why not the government rules give severe non- bail able punishment to those who sell gutkha despite ban?
- Why government is not willing to put a total ban on production of gutkha itself?
- What will be health expenditure in rural families in due course? Will they not be in increasing trend and pull the families to poverty?
- What will be the productivity of future youth addicted to alcohol and tobacco products? Will it not decrease?
- Will this not have a indirect impact on Indian economy?
- How long Indian Youth will be seen as cheap labour by foreign investors? What will happen if they come to know about their decreasing productivity?
- Are we heading towards development or towards a total moral collapse?
- Will everything change? Can common people like us have the ability to put forth some positive change?