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India’s Top Promoter/ DJ launches Anti-Drugs Drive (interview)



Sunburn Festival director and former MTV India VJ Nikhil Chinapa has joined forces with police in Hyderabad to launch an anti-drugs education campaign while distancing electronic music from narcotics.

“We need to look at the real reasons behind drug abuse like financial instability, and loneliness,” Nihkil told the Times of India.

“Music is the biggest excuse that addicts attribute their addiction to. But if you take the music away, they'll find another excuse. These drug addicts need help, with this campaign, we aim to do that,” he said. (Times: )

Chatting to Skrufff, Nikhil expanded further on his goals and motivations for launching the project.

“Over the past few years, there's been a general perception in the media that certain forms of dance music can only be listened to, if you're ‘on something.’ This has also led to the perception that all parties that feature trance, psy trance - and even techno are veritable drug dens where everyone attending is either a dealer or a consumer,” he explained.

“The campaign is an effort to dispel some of those misconceptions around dance music and drugs. The two do not go hand-in-hand in India and the consumption of banned substances, in my opinion are not because of, nor restricted to - any one type of music.”

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): I keep reading stories of police raiding parties in India; how much is there a misunderstanding/ fear of EDM amongst the cops and the mainstream in India right now?

Nikhil Chinapa: “Misconceptions do exist, but I doubt there is any fear. Most misconceptions are fueled by certain sections of the media known more for their sensationalism than credible news content. That's quite a serious problem in India because if you've watched any typical Bollywood movie, you'll know how much the masses here love their drama.

Skrufff: Have you ever been caught up in a police raid? how much of a concern is it?

Nikhil Chinapa: “I've never been caught in one, but it is a serious concern - as a "known user" charge could taint you for life. Particularly worrying are stories of how people at parties that get busted have their urine and blood tested in a manner that seems to be neither safe nor credible. Someone I've known for many years tested positive at one party for cannabis, when I know for certain that he has never been a user. Another was handed a urine sample receptacle with someone else's name on it. This was changed hurriedly when she noticed and pointed it out.

Skrufff; How about for your Sunburn Festival?

Nikhil Chinapa: “At Sunburn we work closely with the local law enforcement agencies as well as the anti-narcotics bureau. Plainclothes policemen are deployed across the festival and the entire venue is monitored on CCTV.  Counsellors and medics are present at the festival and this year we plan on constructing a full-fledged ER at the venue.

It may seem over the top, but I am committed to making sure that the festival is safe for everyone. We also intend to have fans volunteer as "friends of Sunburn". They will be easy to identify by the bright caps they will be given and their role will be to help identify any fan who may be in distress and get them help from authorised personnel immediately.”

Skrufff: How much is police corruption still an issue/ danger in India? (Is there a genuine danger that touring DJs could be set up or have drugs planted on them?)

Nikhil Chinapa: “Corruption is an issue all of India is riddled with and has to face. It is not limited to just the government sector. However, it's not all doom-and-gloom. There is much that India can be proud of and has to offer. Mass movements have sprung up to deal with corruption and the issues that cause it.

As for the possibility of a touring DJ having drugs planted on him - it's unlikely to happen at an event that is well promoted and publicised. Reputed promoters and venues apply for and get the necessary permissions to host events. They often work with the law enforcement agencies as well. However, a corrupt official attempting to create mischief at an illegal party is something that could certainly happen anywhere.”

Skrufff: Anything else to add?

Nikhil Chinapa: “Behind our Music Against Drugs campaign is a wider attempt to encourage parents to talk to their kids more often and understand the world they live in. 2011 is VERY different from 2001, a mere ten years ago. It's easy to blame violence in films, pornography and reality TV. However. I sincerely believe that if your parents give you the right values as you grow up, when the time comes to make a life-altering choice, you'll make the right one.

I hope to be able to take the conversation around drugs and responsible living to schools. It's at that age that I feel we need to reach out to impressionable minds. If we attempt to talk to 16 and 17 year olds, I think we may already be too late.

It's important to also say that I do not intend to, and never will - preach to anyone about their lives. Eventually, people will make whatever choices they most want - but if I'm able to help provoke conscious thought, we may lose fewer minds to herd mentality and peer pressure.”


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