Why Social Science should matter for a pragmatic drug policy: Critical analysis of the drug policy debate in India, 1947-2020.

Thursday, 24 November, 2022 - 10:50 to 12:20


This paper will focus on the nuances of drug policy discussions in India since Independence. It will attempt to delineate the skeptical estimation of social science approach, which has stymied policy discussions centering around drugs. The ‘hyper-medicalised rhetoric’ has disregarded any review of alternative perspective which is unfortunate. Epidemiological model and medical explanations are insufficient in understanding social practices that are so useful for studying and seeking to inform behaviours relating to intoxication and substance use disorders. Intriguingly, while social scientists across the world are of the belief that there is an urgent need for such discussions to incorporate other approaches, including anthropology, history, sociology, and cultural and gender studies and with positive outcomes on drug policy development, in India, such approaches have remained insignificant, rather non-existent.The domination of epidemiological model coupled with management perspectives of targets and deadlines in recent times, accentuated by paradoxical ideation of drugs in ’political knowledge’ has rendered a chasm between ‘visible policy’ and ‘day-to day formulations’; the latter being marked by ambiguity and paradoxes. Arguing for knowledge and expertise of social science and scientists to be accorded place in the idiom of public discourse concerning drugs in India for it is the sine qua non of a pragmatic drug policy.




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