This month, Ekta is taking a different form. If you’re new here and have no clue as to what I’m going on about, do keep reading as we have something super promising coming ahead! Hesitate not to check out some of the older episodes in this series Ep-1, Ep-2 and Ep-3.
Ekta’s motto is talk your way to unity and is presented through hypothetical conversations between actual people holding diverse notions on certain issues.
Getting to the surprise part: We have a SPECIAL GUEST! No, not a hypothetical one, AN ACTUAL SPECIAL GUEST! This person is super-involved in sustainability and is an amazing blogger with ever-so-fresh content. She is an exemplary citizen of the natural world and strives to promote environmental welfare. Ofcourse you know who I’m talking about unless you’ve been living under a rock: let’s welcome Moksha from Happy Panda! *Drum roll*
Thank you so very much for being here today, Moksha! It’s wonderful to have someone I look up to right here with me, on my site.
Diwali is the largest festival in India and indisputably, one with the largest impact on the environment due to bursting of large amounts of firecrackers. Firecrackers are the very hallmark of the festival- from the spinning Chakras to the simple sparklers to the colourful flower pots to the thrilling 1000 walas to the stunning display of sky shots- It’s quite the time of marvel!
Yet, these celebrations do not come without a cost. If we ban firecrackers altogether, it is likely to have large repercussions too. Today, we’re going to talk about the two sides of bursting firecrackers- the good, the bad, the ugly and the pretty. Moksha is going to present her points against firecrackers and I’m going to present my views in favour of firecrackers and what the extinction of this tradition could mean. Let’s begin!!
Sam: Firecrackers are the symbol, the essence, the life and the very soul of Diwali. Just imagine what the celebration hailed as the Festival of Lights would be like without firecrackers! Will it really be the Festival of Lights? It is, after all, the largest festival of India and one that brings people together- people of different religions, castes, backgrounds and economic statuses, all bursting crackers together, side by side. In a way, it is a harbinger of peace and social unity. A period of prolonged energy and happiness that cuts across all differences. I can’t think of a single Diwali I’ve celebrated without my Christian and Muslim friends, who also enjoy the festivities very much.
Moksha: Diwali is celebrated for the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya. There were no crackers burst to welcome him back. The people of Ayodhya simply lit Diyas. Crackers is a modern addition to this age old celebration. I also think tray sharing sweets, making rangoli or lighting Diyas together could become a new thing for people to do together.
What are some of your reasons for supporting/ opposing a ban on firecrackers?
Moksha: Every single action of ours adds up and hurts our planet especially in a country like ours with a population of 1.4 bn. If 1 billion people decided to waste 1 litre of clean drinking water on 1 day, would you be okay with letting 1 billion litres of cleaning water go to waste while some countries are in terrible need of it? Similarly, why would you want to let 1 billion people burst even 1 cracker each? (RIP ozone layer). We also hardly spare a thought to the animals that are impacted by the noise and smoke but strays and pets alike have the worst night of their lives. Additionally, firecrackers use plastic packaging, which leads to waste that takes years to decompose.
Sam: Banning fire-crackers comes with a political connotation that’s not to be ignored: It will be seen as a Hinduphobic statement and begin an upsurge among Hindu conservatives. This will then lead to a battle between religions, the conservatives and the liberals, and overall, serve as a recipe to kill our unity, the exact opposite of what firecrackers are known to promote. And of course, we need to support our labours of all sectors involved in this. In addition, these days, family time has become scarce. Bursting crackers together, sharing some fun moments and making memories in the light are things to cherish for life, strengthening relationships and promoting family-bonding moments.
Will a ban on firecrackers have an impact on the economy?
Sam: You see, the firecracker industry is worth 5000 Crores INR! That’s 50000000000 Rupees! Count all those zeroes and imagine what a loss it would be to our economy to impose a ban on such a huge business! 1000+ factories will have to be shut down, 1 million people directly employed in fire-cracker making as their primary profession and 5 million people indirectly employed will all be thrown to the streets to starve and the whole Town of Sivakasi that depends on Firecracker making to sustain itself (accounting for 3000 crore rupees of the net worth) will have to close. These employees are unskilled labours with no alternative professions to consider and no employment opportunities left available to them. Recently, the government has imposed strict bans on child labour in these factories and the crackers come with a stamp that validates the same.
Moksha: Lot of people claim that the livelihood of lot of poor depend on the industry. Firstly, they make minimal wages at these factories since it is mostly women and kids that they hire. The factory conditions are really unsafe. All of the profit is made by the evil company selling the crackers and other middlemen. While cracker companies may put a sticker saying the crackers are made without involvement of child labour, it is like other non-green companies that put eco-friendly stickers on their products- no one is verifying them. Also billion dollar companies go under from time to time with close to zero impact on the economy (Kingfisher and Jet Airways).
What are your concluding words?
Moksha: I know people are tired of being told that crackers cause pollution. It’s only1 day and how much impact does it have? The answer lies in what you see the morning after Diwali. The smog that engulfs Delhi in the days after Diwali is scary. There is grey film of pollution all over Delhi. The aftermath carries on for days after Diwali is over. For people with asthma and other lung problems, it is a literal nightmare the day of Diwali and even after.
While we’re on this topic, can I also add that leaving lights on all night is extremely wasteful and polluting since the amount of fossil fuels used to generate electricity to run those lights is a LOT. Please be mindful of that too. Leave lights on for 2-3 hours max. If you believe that God is everywhere, God is happy with just about a few minutes of light being switched off too.
Sam: The aftermath of Diwali, the mess that surrounds the roads can be used as an opportunity by the government for either of two things: Employment opportunities, or inculcating civil responsibility in citizens. The former can be achieved by giving temporary paid jobs to unskilled labours and the latter, by introducing fines and penalties for those who leave the remnants uncleaned.
Statistically speaking, firecrackers contribute only 0.03% to Global pollution. Is it the best idea to compromise on all the joy and the good many communal benefits it provides (IT BURNS THOSE DARNED MOSQUITOES TOO!) for what is, in reality, only a negligible contribution?
Now, the next speaker is going to be YOU! Let’s chat in the comments about what you think.
Wishing you all a very very happy, safe Diwali!