On the 30th of April, the Department of Sociology and Social Work conducted the Inaugural Ceremony of the CASA- Christites Against Substance Abuse. Pooja A and Ananya from the Department of Sociology moderated the ceremony, which began with a peaceful prayer song.
Following this, Dr Reena Merian Cherin, Assistant Professor and Faculty Coordinator from the Department of Sociology and Social Work delivered the welcome address and welcomed the faculty members, student body and students from different campuses. Dr Victor Paul, Head of Department, Sociology and Social Work and the Principal Investigator of Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyan in association with Christ, then talked about the crucial role of CASA and the larger campaign in making a difference. His address helped in highlighting the importance of Nasha Mukti Bharat Abhiyan as an agent of change. He stated key statistics underlining the need for intervention. In India, almost 16 crore people consume alcohol and about 3.1 crore individuals use cannabis products. In light of these alarming numbers, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the nodal Ministry for Drug Demand Reduction, launched ‘Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan’, a campaign in 272 districts that have been identified as most vulnerable in terms of substance use. The Abhiyaan's focus is on educating and empowering the youth of the nation to fight against the problem of substance abuse through preventive education and awareness generation, capacity building, treatment and rehabilitation, focused intervention in vulnerable areas, skill development, and livelihood support of ex-drug addicts. It also aims to conduct surveys, studies, evaluation and research. The period for this programme is one year. Dr Victor Paul then highlighted the importance of university-based prevention since colleges offer an environment for prevention through the support of teachers and peers. A university-based prevention program also sets a platform to teach students valuable life skills like assertiveness which can help students make informed decisions.
Being the only university from the city to have joined with the government for this program, Christ (Deemed to be University) has a key role to play. Dr Victor Paul then highlighted the core objectives of the programme, which are to generate awareness, prevent substance abuse, promote community outreach, strengthen counselling facilities, and initiate capacity building programmes. The expected outcomes range from raising awareness, community participation, training to equip key service providers and creating drug-free environments. He further detailed strategies for sustainability, and the components included reaching the goals. The detailed action plan and proposed activities were then shared, where the target of ten villages, three campuses and two urban areas were proposed.
Aashik and Archana, the President and Vice-President respectively of the Department of Sociology and Social Work, then detailed the plans for the student body of CASA and its objectives. They drew attention to statistics to highlight the importance of this initiative and spoke about the three major objectives: building an active peer community, encouraging and supporting development initiatives, and creating a safe and inclusive environment. The plan for student activities was also proposed, and it included student roundtables, awareness campaigns, peer intervention programmes, community outreach programmes, certificate programmes and service learning.
Dr Tony Sam, Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Head of the Department of Psychology, was highly appreciative of the initiative and congratulated the members. He expressed how it is high time for such an intervention in society and encouraged the members to continue the initiative as a lifelong project. The potential of this project to make a great change was also highlighted.
The floor was then open for a question and answer session, following which Dr Amaresha C, Assistant Professor and Faculty Coordinator from the Department of Sociology and Social Work, delivered the vote of thanks.