Drug Trafficking in India

Drug Trafficking in India

News: Recently, The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has informed the Rajya Sabha the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has noticed the use of the darknet and cryptocurrency for drug trafficking in 38 cases in the last three years.

Drug Trafficking in India:
 The UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Report 2022 revealed that India is one of the world’s largest opiate markets in terms of users and is vulnerable to increased supply from Afghanistan. Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are leading in India’s epidemic of opioid users, while Gujarat is now the third worst state in terms of drug overdose deaths.
 As per the survey report of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment published in 2019, the consumption of drugs in India has increased as compared to the survey report in 2004.
 Studies reveal that 62 per cent of the darknet is being used for illicit drug trafficking. Darknet markets are disrupting traditional drug markets because of their anonymity and low risks.

What are the reasons for heightened Drug Trafficking in India?
 Increased production of Opium in Afghanistan especially after Taliban taking over the reign.
 India’s favorable geographical location - Traditionally India has been seen as sandwiched between the Death (Golden) Crescent and Death (Golden) Triangle. The country is being flooded with drugs, especially heroin and methamphetamine, from these two regions by drug lords indirectly supported by intelligence setups.
 Greater domestic demand in India.
 India shares borders with several countries that are known for drug production and trafficking, and these borders are often poorly guarded and easily penetrated by smugglers. For example, Northeast shares borders with the likes of Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh etc.
 Lack of awareness about dangers of drug abuse.
 Corruption among law enforcement agencies and government officials allows drug traffickers to operate with impunity.

Drugs Trade as a threat to National security:
 Money generated by the illegal sale of narcotics and drugs is used for financing terrorist activities and also left wing extremism in India.
 It facilitates other organised crimes. For example, during Pathankot attacks, the terrorists entered India from Pakistan through routes that was tried by drug peddlers.
 Rising drug consumption leads to other problems such as loss of productive capacity of individuals, economic drain and increased allocation of resources towards rehabilitation measures. According to a study conducted by the Indian Army in 2018, around 40% of the youth in Jammu and Kashmir suffer from some form of drug addiction, which was below 5% in 2008
 It also leads to law and order problems in the society.
Narco Terrorism - It is the nexus between drug traffickers, criminal networks and terrorists where the aim is to destabilise the nation through the use of terrorism or weaken it through illegal drug trade.

What are the various initiatives undertaken to regulate Drug trafficking in India?
 National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) - It was introduced in 1985 to regulate drug trafficking and the use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances in India. Under the NDPS Act, cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, export and import of all narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances is prohibited except for medicinal and scientific purposes and as authorized by the government.
 Ensuring physical security of the borders and coasts by strengthening patrolling and surveillance.
 Nasha Mukt Bharat Annual Action Plan (2020-21) for 272 Most Affected Districts (in terms of usage of drugs in the country) for awareness building and enhancing community participation.
 National Narcotics Coordination Portal (NCORD) and NIDAAN portal by Ministry of Home Affairs.
 Integrated Rehabilitation Centers for Addicts (IRCAs) The Ministry of Social Justice and empowerment provides financial assistance to NGOs and voluntary organizations for the maintenance of Integrated Rehabilitation Centers for Addicts
 India is a signatory to the three UN Conventions namely, Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 and Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.
 India cooperates with other countries through joint operations and sharing of intelligence to prevent drug trafficking. Role of Indian Coast Guard has been noteworthy in this context.

Way Forward:
 The government should take measures to strengthen the law enforcement agencies involved in drug control (Customs, the Narcotics Control Bureau, and state police forces)
 Provide adequate treatment to those who have already been victims of drug abuse. It is important to create infrastructure that caters to this menace and equally important to raise awareness campaigns especially in vulnerable regions of country.
 Factors that contribute to drug trafficking like poverty, lack of education, unemployment needs to be addressed.
 Promote international co-operation while emphasizing on regional cooperation first to jointly tackle Drug abuse.
 The government can improve border control by increasing surveillance, using advanced technology and equipment, and strengthening border security forces. 

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