By censoring a movie, you can’t conceal the big drug menace in Punjab.
Today, in Punjab, people are turning to drugs and drinks than to their duties. And to think that the rest of India is unaware about this is being as blinded to reality as Rahul Gandhi is about his leadership skills and political ability.
9 years of carefree attitude, leadership vacuum and massive misrule has put Punjab on the doorsteps of anarchy. The government itself is a symbol of disorder and irrelevance. Money has become the law, even more so than in other parts of the country, and the inefficacy of the law and order machinery has slowly seen Punjab being shadowed by the towering drug nexus that now threatens to waste an entire generation of youth in the state.
The movie Udta Punjab, though being advertised as a work of ‘creative fiction’ is closer to reality than to the realms of fiction. Udta Punjab is symbolic of everything wrong with Punjab right now. It may be crude, it may be extreme but it is the truth. Though Punjab is in focus, it delivers a larger message to India and India’s ever so glorified demographic youth.
If Modi can talk about the demographic quotient in terms of the opportunities provided for accelerating India to the elite podium of economic and strategic superpowers, Kashyap’s portrayal of the youth as a clan that is easily influence able and distracted is a necessary balancing act, not an anti-national move that must be opposed and ‘thrown away to Pakistan’. If a movie is a reflection of society, Udta Punjab exposes the crux of Punjab. A witty one liner by a panellist on a famous Indian English news channel has been caught in my mind ever since: Punjab is not all about the ‘sukhi khet’ (yellow farms) and the romance that buds and blossoms between the tractors, but also about the problems that are also present on ground and need reformation and revision. The ever so present drug menace has gained increasing significance in the past decade, and a film like Udta Punjab merely glorifies the bitter truth about the virulent spread of drugs in the state.
Just calling the drug problem humongous doesn’t do justice to the harsh realities on ground. It is necessary to take a look at the numbers, which so often do their work of scaring people into acting, and action is not an option, but a necessity now. Punjab, the land of five rivers, the sanctified place which has been blessed by ten Sikh Gurus, and many Pirs and the valiant warriors of the nation, is crying in agony today. Though there isn’t an official count of the number of drug addicted youths in Punjab, media reports estimate the number at anywhere from 60-75%. Official figures, like the number of drug related cases, the seizing of illicit drugs and the increase in alcohol consumption are also threatening and further emphasise the dismal situation of Punjab. 50 percent of all drug related offences have been recorded in Punjab, though Punjab accounts for only around 2.5% of India’s population. Punjab’s opioid dependency is four times the global average and the State’s opioid-dependents spend approximately Rs. 20 crore daily on these drugs. That represents a staggering three fold jump since 2009. There has been a 59% increase in legal alcohol consumption from 2005-2010. In every village, stories about families losing their sole bread earner to drug abuse is not uncommon, but an overheard tale now. The sad fact is that the drug problem in Punjab is as critical as the rape problem was in Delhi in 2012. And even after the government itself admitted in 2010-11 that approximately ‘73.5%’ of the State’s youth are confirmed drug addicts, there has been an absence of adequate media attention or civic pressure on this issue which can force the arms of the incumbent government, which if not complicit in the crime, is at least turning a blind eye towards the huge nexus operating in the State.
Punjab’s drugs problem has been so pervasive that in in November 2015, declaring that drug peddlers and drug dealers deserved no mercy, a bench of then-Chief Justice of India H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy said, “These persons have spoiled an entire generation in rural Punjab.”
Udta Punjab is a whistle-blower, an eye opening movie that will at the bare minimum initiate and encourage debate and dialogue on this very urgent problem that requires an immediate solution to nourish the demographic quotient that we have. In the abysmal situation Punjab finds itself, a third successive term for the Badal-BJP alliance is a political impossibility. They have, if not participated, at the very least allowed the youth to enter a drug infused haze, which has crippled the once glorious birthplace of several great Indian sportsmen, musicians and other stalwarts in several other fields. Turning a blind eye to the State as it becomes a hotbed for drug and alcohol abuse will be an evasion of our duty as responsible humans and Indians. Censoring Udta Punjab is not a protection of our Indian culture. Swearing and abusing is not something uncommon in the daily Indian household that a movie must be censored to extreme lengths just because it caters to the adult audience in a language that is mature. The real cause for censorship lies in the political abuse of power by the SAD-BJP regime in Punjab, as the movie precedes what is almost set to be a calamitous 2017 Punjab Elections. An Udta Punjab will not be the factor that topples the regime, it will be the dismal and undeserving governance of the past 10 years and a more politically active youth, keeping in line with the national trends, that has caused the domino effect.
You may take the Punjab out of this drug focused movie, but what you need to take out is the focus on drugs out of Punjab.