January 2015 \ Interviews \ Interview Cabinet Minister
"We welcome all NRIs who want to join the social justice movement"

Interview with Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Mr Thawar Chand Gehlot Taking time out from Parliament, Cabinet Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Mr Thawar Chand Gehlot spoke to Editor and Publisher Sayantan Chakravarty and spelt out the challenges before him in the coming months

By Sayantan Chakravarty

The main target groups of the Ministry include Schedule Castes/ Other Backward Classes/ Persons with Disabilities/ Senior Citizens And Victims Of Substance Abuse. What is the Ministry’s role in empowering them?

People in our country are getting drawn towards substance abuse. We have been continuously advertising about the harmful effects of liquor, drugs and other kinds of substance abuse and trying to control their spread, but we find the more we try, more people are getting into it. May be it is because of the curiosity amongst the people which later turns into an addiction. We are running many programs to control the situation. Also we provide financial aid to the NGOs, and other organizations working for the cause, and to rehabilitation centres for addicts. The rehabilitation centres conduct drives and if a person is identified as an addict of any kind of substance abuse, he is kept in the centre and given medical and psychological attention. Medication is administered to overcome the urge of substances. They are later helped to get employment and start a normal life. We try our best but I wouldn’t say that our success rate is too high. But the numbers of beneficiaries of these programmes are much lesser than ones getting addicted to intoxicated products. This condition mainly prevails in Punjab and North Eastern region. There are many prevention measures like there is a law. There are certain steps being taken to make sure that the intoxicated products are not easily available. But it is observed that various kinds of intoxicated products are smuggled from the borders that India shares with Pakistan, mainly in Punjab and Rajasthan. Not only Pakistan, but these products are also smuggled from other countries that share the border with India. The Narcotics Department has been trying to keep a check and the Home Ministry by the medium of IPC Sections of Police Department tries to prevent smuggling and the Health Ministry is trying to stop any such activity by the means of medical treatments. Our Department is running the Rehabilitation Centres, but we have great difficulty in identifying the addicts, like when we go out on a survey, even the addicts would not admit that are addicted until he/she is caught red handed and identified with the help of devices and technology. Despite this our ministry with the help of Health Ministry, State Governments, Police Department and Narcotics Department tries to prevent the situation.