The death of three aspirants for a constable’s job in Haryana due to an overdose of performance enhancing drugs during their physical evaluation test last week is an issue which the authorities must look into seriously. The fact that senior officials conducting the examination in Kurukshetra had made adequate arrangements to provide medical attention to those who collapsed while attempting to complete the run in the gruelling heat of June, indicates that they were fully in the know how drugs were used by candidates seeking enrolment in the police force. If this was so, why were precautionary measures not taken to prevent such candidates from participating in the exhausting run? There is every possibility that there may be some who have made the mark for getting selected after the consumption of banned substances, the only difference being that unlike their unfortunate co-runners, they did not collapse and fall by the wayside but managed to complete the entire course. What would be their contribution to the police if they have used unfair means to get selected in the service in first place? There is every likelihood that they may take refuge in drugs even while they are in the call of duty. There have been ample reports in the past on how recruitments in the police force are done arbitrarily all over the country. In most cases, there is an exchange of money and several aspirants are more than willing to pay massive amounts in order to wear the khaki uniform. It is common sense and a natural corollary that those who pay money would certainly recover many times over the initial amount they paid in terms of illegal gratifications later. This is how the commencement of corruption is ignited at the primary stages in the security forces. In 1980, recruitments of a large number of people from Gurdaspur were made in the Delhi police since the wife of the then police commission was an MP from that area. One such rookie—Satwant Singh—was later responsible for the gory assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, whose life he was to guard and protect with his own life in October 1984. The use of drugs by police aspirants in Haryana indicates that such substances were freely available everywhere. The recent controversial film, Udta Punjab focused attention on the flourishing narcotics trade in Punjab with the patronage of powerful people and how this abuse due to friction-free availability was ringing the death knell for the younger generation. The tragedy is that Punjab is not the only state where rampant use of opioids and other hypnotic and psychotropic substances by the young has been on the rampant rise. There are reports of the sale of these drugs in Haryana and Delhi as well. A few years ago, when the then Delhi government gave permission for opening of hookah bars in the capital, it was inadvertently an invitation to unscrupulous elements to get into the act. The result: in some of these so called hookah bars, school children and college going youngsters get initiated into use of opioids and other substances. There are not sufficient checks to contain the use of hookah to tobacco alone and drugs are an acceptable way of life there. Till about a decade back, LSD, cocaine and party drugs such as Ecstasy were used by generally rich kids. Police raids were kept a closely guarded secret since those who were caught mostly managed to get away due to their powerful parents. The poor who included pavement dwellers were mostly caught while smoking smack and many cases of theft and burglary were attributed to smack addicts by the law enforcement agencies. However, times have changed and so has the clientele. Ordinary children from middle class households are introduced to drugs by traffickers who have a well laid out network in the NCR. To begin with, many of them are given drugs free and once they get hooked they are forced to pay. Since money is not easily given by parents, many of these kids resort to stealing or a life of crime. It is not that the authorities are oblivious of what is going on, but are simply reluctant to act since there is big money involved. Drug peddlers are not fictional figures, but a reality outside many schools of the city. The Metro stations are also hubs as are numerous cigarette and paan vendors. Car park attendants too do not mind making a quick buck at some places. In Delhi, for instance, Jal Vihar near Lajpat Nagar is considered to be a place from where easy procurement can be made. Similarly, Gurgaon is emulating Punjab and Delhi in a big way. The use of weed and marijuana is rampant and youngsters are rapidly getting ensnared due to the free availability of such substances. During the summer, Kasol in Himachal Pradesh has become a much sought after destination since it is extremely easy to get drugs and matters happen in anonymity under the very nose of the state government and its police. The malaise is equally disturbing in other metropolitan cities and there is paucity of action against those who are ruining many futures. Unfortunately, several actors and many amongst those who make it to page three of newspapers are role models for impressionable minds since they are said to be known consumers. Before “Udta Punjab” becomes “Udta Hindustan”, the Centre and the state governments must finally act with firmness to stop the country from going down the drain. The future generations, otherwise, would have to pay a very heavy price. Between us.