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Horrendous trends
Imminent social explosion

By Vahid Isabeigi
July 3, 2002
The Iranian

Recent economical indicators circulating in various newspapers and news agencies both within and outside Iran portray a very bleak picture of the direction towards which the country is heading. This economical regression has had its retrograde effects in social and cultural aspects of the country, by further degrading the backbone and the posterity of the Iranian Society: The youth.

On the basis of the estimates put forward by state officials, the Iranian youth is gradually being gravitated towards drug addiction and the estimated number of drug-addicts within the confines of the country is reported to be around 2 million. However, as we are well aware, the actual tally is well over 4 million with an exponentially growing rate by virtue of the exacerbating economical conditions which render the youth more susceptible to this mounting tendency. As Jim Muir of BBC had reported from Tehran, the situation evinces no signs of improvement which could be attributable to the state's lax and tacit stance of dealing with this intractable problem which, at this rate, is likely to obliterate a very significant proportion of this generation by exhorting this addiction to spread even more.

Unemployment, which is presumed to have already exceeded 20% in Iran, is thought to be amongst the main instigators of the skyrocketing drug-addiction amongst the youth. In fact, in a country like Iran, where only a tiny fraction of the university graduates find jobs, it is not unusual for even university graduates to be gravitated towards this pervasive addiction. Consequently, great majority of the skilled and educated populace of Iran including new graduates from various auspicious fields from various universities opt for the option of leaving the country in incredibly high numbers. In fact, the number of educated graduates flowing abroad in quest of better opportunities and greater freedom has been soaring immeasurably--currently standing at a rate of 230.000 people per year with a tendency towards rising at a greater rate. Recent statistics have shown Iran ranking first at brain-drain, which has been one of the most burdensome problems of the society that has never got under control owing to the inadvertent stance of the state at dealing with this social catasrophe.

Moreover, the resurgence of prostitution, once thought to have faded into oblivion subsequent to the outbreak of the revolution, started to reappear in public. Recently, Welfare official put their estimated number of prostitution's in Iran at 300.000, which is a shattering number. Drug-
addiction and a steady increase in the incidence of prostitution have also been instrumental at the rapidly boosting rate of AIDS amongst Iranians today; sources from within the country put the estimated number of the infected at more than 10.000, with a fast-proliferating trend, which is also another indicative of social calamities lurking to be tackled conscientiously. Although one would hardly believe that these trends are being encouraged by the state, the casual and uncaring attitude of the state officials pleading the lack of possibilities to kerb drug addiction all display how desperate the situation is liable to get. This is a preposterous glitch which has socially degraded the new generation of Iranians.

The current economical impasse the country is in the grip of is a direct result of years of negligence and mismanagement policies utterly obliterating the internal industry and making the country dependent on petroleum and petroleum byproducts and retarding the development of minor and flourishing industrial structures while at the same time, for unknown reasons, depleting the total petroleum production of the country despite a doubling population to be supported. In fact, despite immense potential Iran offers both in financial and industrial terms, there has been a deliberate attempt of remaining negligent in the face of collapsing industries. Namely, in today's Iran, industries are under the sway of Bonyads, state-owned corporations whose employees are largely comprised of war veterans and the devotees of the conservative wing while at the same time great majority of them completely lack the prowess and capability to operate these industries. The industries under their sway range from car-manufacturing to various steel complexes, food-processing, and the traditional rug-weaving industry whose ill-fated state had been promised to be improved by Khatami upon his election. In fact most of these industries, due to lack of management, have almost been troubles for the state which is reluctant to improve them on account of the unwillingness of their workers who have been the staunchest supporters of the conservative wing by well establishing themselves within the most momentous sectors of the state.

That is why, rather than replacing the inexperienced staff composed of veterans in most of the industries with the fresh graduates from various universities in Iran, thus augmenting the output, the state intentionally turns a blind eye on this tremendous problem. In fact, this trend has profoundly diminished the ability of the Iranian Industry to compete with their competitors abroad. In this case, the state has enacted some very entrenched rules aimed at both decreasing the outflow of cash abroad and saving the industries from going bankrupt. However, these rules, due to being rather convoluted and demanding, induced the entrance of smuggled goods and articles into the country, thus making the Iranian industries, which have already grown incompetent to compete with their rivals abroad due to rampant corruption and mismanagement within the country, totally inept. The only way of saving the internal industries from bankruptcy is privatization However, given the state's reluctant nature and flexible rules, the privatization of industries seems to be a very arduous task.

One of the other areas the state should place a high emphasis on is the task of attracting investment into the country by relaxing the relevant rules. As a matter of fact, the current connotations about Iran, despite slightly having changed after Khatami's election, have impeded the flow of investment into the country. In this respect, Iranian Diaspora with an estimated number of 5 million Iranians, is the antidote for Iran's intractable problems. However, the state's belligerent stance against Iranian Diaspora and their possessions within the country has also been a factor thwarting the flow of investment into the country. According to estimates, the total wealth of Iranian Diaspora just residing in the USA is presumed to be around $200 billion. Can one envision how this money could have functioned to better the future of Iran provided the state was not so hostile? How many drug-addicts could have been saved? How many runaway girls could have been prevented from having to take up prostitution?

All of these economical convulsions have afflicted the Iranian youth, majority of whom are totally hopeless about their future for the time being. In fact, the present propensity stipulates the following rule that is commonly been heeded by Iranians: If you are a university graduate, look for various ways of making it out of Iran. If you are not properly educated and are very tormented, the only thing you can find refuge in is drugs. If you are girl and in a desperate situation, your chance of being gravitated towards prostitution is rather high. This cannot be the way prescribed for Iran. Thousands of years of civilization for which we Iranians have been highly proud of is gradually been undermined as a result of unpopular regimes reigning within this century. Our dignity, our pride, our accomplishments as a nation together have been replaced by notorious connotations.

The dismal state of the country, even as one of the conservative clerics had unwillingly pointed out, is the sign of an imminent social explosion as long as the current bleak and horrendous trends are maintained. In fact, if the state keeps on pretending not to sense the widespread discontentment amongst Iranians, especially the youth, majority of whom are the baby-boomers of an early revolutionary campaign spearheaded by Khomeini to produce more soldiers for the Iran-Iraq war, the country is liable to be plunged into a chaos. In this case, the possibility of a counterrevolution will culminate turning into a massive public movement. A counterrevolution, though sounds pretty hypothetical, also poses its deleterious threats to the very integrity of Iran by putting Iran at a very precarious state in the face of the attempts of separation What lies ahead?

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