25000 college students participated in the campaign on the ground, and 12000 colleges from across India joined in through live webcast.
February 18, 2019
The grounds of Chandigarh University reverberated with the chants of ‘Na Karunga Na Karne Dunga’ (Will Not (Do Drugs) And Will Not Let Anyone Do It) on a drizzly Monday morning, where 25000 students turned up to be the part of the launch of Drug Free India, one of the many Art of Living’s initiatives towards de-addiction.
The nationwide Drug Free India campaign was launched in the presence of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Bollywood icon Sanjay Dutt, rapper-songwriter Badshah, comedian Kapil Sharma, popular Punjabi Folk singer Gurdas Maan and Hon. Governor of Punjab, V P Singh Badnore.
“We have raised an issue here today that is very important to address, for the country today. We need to strengthen the youth of this country and whatever is weakening this (strength) needs to be blocked. Drugs is one such hindrance,” said Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar while addressing the students, “People get into drugs because they are looking for happiness, fun and love. Just, come join us. We’ll give you a high that will never go down. Inner high can give love and happiness.”
People get into drugs because they are looking for happiness, fun and love. 'Inner high' can give love and happiness. Click To Tweet
#Youth are an inseparable part of India's development. We have to fill up our youngsters with energy. People who haven't gone to drugs yet, we must create barriers and stop it for once and for ever said Spiritual guru @SriSri while launching #DrugFreeIndia campaign at CU campus pic.twitter.com/fSe92SIZIo
— ChandigarhUniversity (@Chandigarh_uni) February 18, 2019
Taking the awareness campaign forward, Sri Sri also announced Walkathons across Indian cities and villages on March 10th, raising awareness and mobilizing communities in the fight against drugs.
Actor Sanjay Dutt, also shared about his own battle with drug addiction, “This one time I was in such a bad state. I was bleeding from my mouth, my nose. I hadn’t eaten in two days. I got scared looking at myself in the mirror. I told my father, I needed help. I was fortunate enough I could go to a rehab in America. I was there for 2 years.”
On this return, Dutt shared, the same drug peddler came to him with new drugs which he wanted to give Dutt for free. Dutt said, he had one second to decide, whether or not to take it up again. “All it took was one second to decide that I will never do drugs for the rest of my life,” Dutt said.
Over 12,000 colleges joined the campaign against drugs through live webcast from across the country. Popular rapper-songwriter Badshah also encouraged the youth to find their life’s calling as a way to keep out of addictions.
Badshah said, “The youth of Punjab are powerful. Today almost 70% of them are into drugs. In 2 days, more than 1 crore students are going to fight against drugs. People like you and I are going to fight. I’ve never done them. I had a friend in college. He was 10 times better as a rapper than me. He said it helps him write better. But now he’s no more.”
“I found my high in music,” Badshah said, “Find your high! because you are the future, the nerve of this country.”
Part of the initiative also includes formation of SWAT (Social Wellness and Awareness Training) clubs that have been opened across college campuses that comprise of students, teachers, doctors and social workers who will raise awareness against drug abuse throughout the year and organize preventive interventions so youngsters do not get into drugs in the first place.
In the past, The Art of Living has also collaborated with leading drug de-addiction and treatment centers like PGIMER, and Government multi-specialty Hospital in Chandigarh, and medical colleges in Ludhiana, Faridkot and Amritsar, where Art of Living deaddiction and intervention programs have been organised for the inmates, who have reported encouraging results in dealing with addiction and its consequences.
V.P Singh Badnore, the Hon. Governor of Punjab, beseeched the students present to look out for each other, to look out for friends and loved ones who may be behaving unusually, who may have caught on to drugs and may need help.
The Drug Free India movement against drugs has already taken social media by storm with more than 90 eminent personalities from the field of films, sports, politics and business having poured their support for the campaign.
The second leg of the campaign will be launched on Tuesday, February 19th at Guru Jambeshwar University, Hisar Haryana with the support of Government of Haryana.
Highlights of Art of Living’s de-addiction work so far
- Reached out to 80 villages in Punjab and about 25000 addicts underwent Art of Living programs to fight addiction with regular follow-up for more than six months.
- De-addiction centers in Bengaluru and Kolkata transformed the lives of more than 3000 drug addicts, created awareness among 2 lakh people and counting.
- School based drug-use sensitization workshops in collaboration with AIIMS organized in 1000 schools across four states where principals, teachers, policy makers and administrators were sensitized about prevention of drug use. The program offers preventive strategies, life skill programs and the Art of Living Youth Empowerment Seminars, as a protective barrier against initiation into drug use.
- Mobilized communities to participate and support campaigns to tackle substance abuse. Example, The Art of Living along with other NGOs and eminent citizens of the Chandigarh filed a Public Interest Litigation against the massive abuse of Typewriter Correction Fluid. Haryana High Court prevailed upon the Union Ministry of Health to issue a ban on its production, sale or storage.
- In Kareli, inspired by Art of Living, women sat outside the liquor shop in their village every day till eight in the evening, to rid their village of alcoholism and illicit sale of liquor. Eventually the authorities relented.
- Youth Leadership Training programs with focus on deaddiction conducted in Marathwada for 5500 participants, over 2500 of them have stayed clean, 50 of them grew to take official positions locally and 1 elected as “nagaradhyaksh”.