Punjabi pop music

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Romanticising drugs

The Times of India, Jun 07 2016

Shimona Kanwar 

Most Punjabi pop songs romanticise drugs and violence, says IIM-A study

 The Censors may be forcing producers of `Udta Punjab' to remove `Punjab' from the film's name, but how is it going to erase the romanticisation of violence and drugs in popular Punjabi culture? Every other Punjabi pop song mentions drugs in one form or another. The obsession with violence, drugs and liquor in Punjabi pop is no alien fact and has been debated in the community for years. So much so that cricketer Harbhajan Singh's recent tweets asking young people to stay away from such songs had gone viral.

But all this has been backed up by some detailed research by a team led by In dian Institute of Management -Ahmedabad's (IIMA) Prof Dheeraj Sharma. The team studied 50 Punjabi songs each that 200 students between the age of 18 and 25 heard and said that youths in the state have a high propensity towards committing violence and engaging in drug abuse. The songs were not older than five years.

The research team went through the songs and qualified them on a scale one to five where one stood for songs that made no references to drugs and violence while five made a strong and explicit reference. Each student was asked to submit 50 favourite Punjabi songs he or she listened to regularly in a USB.

The researchers found that of the 50, the minimum number of songs on a USB that related to drugs and violence was 10 while the maximum was all 50. “In other words, we were able to obtain a rank from the USB of the respondents on how frequently they listened to songs containing violence and drug usage,“ said Dheeraj.

The study also found that individuals who listened most frequently to the violent and drug-related songs had a negative attitude towards women, high propensity to commit violence and high intent to engage in drug use. “The study does not say that these youth are into drugs. But by knowing their behavioural pattern, we could find their likelihood in being influenced by drugs and violence,“ Dheeraj added.

There have been previous studies which suggest that specific lyrical disapproval and support will increase listener's curiosity related about drugs.“A study conducted by the US government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found that music has reasonably significant influence on drug usage behaviour of teenagers,“ Dheeraj said.

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