Assam governor Janaki Ballav Patnaik says that addiction to drug and alcohol among adolescent need urgent attention to secure a better future while releasing the annual flagship report of UNICEF, ‘Adolescent, an age of opportunity’.
“We have seen adolescents because of bad company and bad example set by their parents are prone to drinking and drug addiction. This is one of the greatest challenges and threats to adolescents in our country,” said the governor.
“It needs urgent attention besides others to protect the future of the adolescents. It is advertised in the cigarette packets that ‘Smoking is injurious to health’ and this is a contradiction in terms and a joke on the society where advertisement and smoking move on parallel lines,” Patnaik said adding that it was necessary to pay same amount of attention to a child’s second decade of life as they get in their first ten years.
With some 243 million adolescents, that is individuals aged 10-19 years, India has the highest population of adolescents in the world and Assam is a home to an estimated 6.5 million adolescents, which is 21.3 per cent of the state’s population.
“In this ‘youthful, human resource’ lies the promise and potential of becoming a healthy, strong and egalitarian society. This, however, comes with an onerous responsibility on the part of the state and civil society actors, including parents and guardians, to nurture and harness the energy and potential of these adolescents,” he said.
Patnaik who was a former Union Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation and Labour said that though the country has several schemes to meet the challenge of adolescents, the matter of concern is the lack of proper implementation of the schemes to bring some change in the real sense.
“Adolescent girls, in particular face additional challenges. A high proportion of adolescent girls are anemic. Girls from poor and marginalized communities are vulnerable to child marriages, early pregnancies, ill-health, trafficking, HIV-AIDS, abuse and violence,” the 78 year old who has been the governor of Assam since 2009.
Jeroo Master, Chief, Field Office of UNICEF Assam who was also present at the occasion said that UNICEF with collaboration with several other organizations have been trying to minimize the number of child marriages especially among some of the tribes in the state. “So far we have been able to minimize it to some extent in some parts of the state,” she said.