Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Diwali - Are Fireworks Really Evil? Or Are They Just Misunderstood?

     I have already confessed to being an evil manipulative genius, probably second to only Dr. Heinz doofenshmirtz. 
world domination and curse you perry the platypus
This guy. 
     If you know me at all, you know that I have already dutifully polluted the environment today with all my Diwali fireworks and am writing this post while taking a break from my exhausting evil life. So staying true to my character, I'm going to write this post about Diwali and fireworks because I know it's going to attract a lot of traffic to the blog, and then I'm going to try and brainwash convince you to burst crackers and fireworks, because I have literally decided to play devil's advocate. In this case, I will represent narakasura the evil henchmen who created fireworks in 7th century china. 
    One reason people give me for not bursting fireworks this Diwali, is because they think it's a waste of money, they claim that spending your money on fireworks is nothing short of actually visually seeing your money go up in flames and leave a pile of smouldering ash and smoke behind. If you are one of these people, I have nothing to say to you except, "but it looks so pretty, and burning your money never looked this good". Besides, think of all the people stuff you can accidentally set on fire. You know your friend who buys terrible clothes and tells you it looks better on, well today is your day, You can finally burn down her entire wardrobe and claim that when she said it looked better on, You thought she meant on fire

    Another excuse I've been hearing, is that apparently, fireworks were never really the tradition of Diwali, that lighting diyas were the original tradition and fireworks were just the evil that originated in 7th century China that has been thrust upon us by evil manipulative business men henchmen. And here's my answer to that. So what if it's not our culture? We have begun to accept the idea of many western holidays, even valentine's day. 4th of july celebrations in the US involve pyrotechnic shows. Plenty of other countries have similar festivals of light or involve the usage of fireworks in various celebrations. Besides, fireworks and pyrotechnics are a hell lot more fun than lighting diyas! And Diwali is our Festival of Lights, so why not adapt? Loosen up. Celebrate. Especially since it has already become a tradition of sorts. You can't deny that you laughed and enjoyed the pyrotechnics as a kid, it's what made Diwali so special. It's why it was your favourite festival. so why take that joy away from your kids, the future generations? Why be a hypocrite? 
we're gonna let it burn!!
Cause we got the fire fire fire....
     Lastly, There are two very valid concerns that are pushing people to boycott fireworks altogether.
the first one is pollution. Let's begin with air pollution, shall we? We all know the major cause of air pollution in the world is vehicles and industries burning fossil fuels, Yet, we choose to ignore this and play environmentalist on one day, Diwali. and act all self righteous. Why don't we carpool with the colleagues we already can't stand to work with, during office hours, instead of taking our cars or bikes to work? Or ride our bicycles to work, Or walk (you get some cardio too. It's a win win. you don't even need to hit the gym). Or make use of the public transportation system. Also, quit smoking, because even that's air pollution. Did you know that the chlorofluorocarbons emitted by our AC's and refrigerators also do more harm to the environment. Get rid of those and then I will call you superman. Yes. Don't tell me you need your cars, because, the truth is, you don't. About a century ago, Cars didn't exist in India, and people still managed to live without them, you can too. Your car is really just a luxury, that you've grown accustomed to. Take up an ATP (alternative travel project) all through the year, and I promise you, you would have done far more for the world and the environment, than what you would achieve by going green on Diwali. Compensate. They say plant two trees for every tree you cut down. In much the same way, be environmentally conscious all through the year, enjoy diwali. 
    As for concerns regarding noise pollution, don't buy explosive fireworks, or the ones that make too much noise, cause diwali is the festival of lights not loud noises anyway.

I'm not trying to say Diwali doesn't cause pollution at all, or justify it, but in comparison to the day to day harm we bring to the environment, Diwali is relatively innocent. But Moderation is the key to everything. We try to minimise our usage of fossil fuels, we don't entirely stop burning fossil fuels,  because that's not possible, that's irrational. but when it comes to fireworks, we are quick to radically boycott them altogether. This is not a practical solution. This brings me to the next reason that most people seem to cite.  Sivakasi, the "fireworks capital" of our country is constantly plagued by safety problems and child labour, and people seem to believe it's just best to annihilate the industry entirely, and they seem to believe that the best way to go about this is by boycotting fireworks and going for a green Diwali. Everybody wins.  Except that everybody doesn't win. Here's why,  According to google, 
Sivakasi, in  Tamil Naduin southern India, produces more than 90% of India's fireworks and India is the second largest producer of fireworks in the world, next to China.The fireworks industry in Sivakasi is worth between Rs 800-1000 crore. The market for fireworks is likely to grow at the rate of 10% per annum. There are nearly 450 fireworks factories giving direct employment to about 40,000 workers and about 1 lakh indirect such as paper tube making, wire cutting, box making in the countryside.
       If this industry were to completely shut down, It's significant contribution to the GDP of our country would go down, This in turn affects our economy. 1,40,000 people will be driven to unemployment, lose their livelihood, and their only chance of making even one square meal, a day. and we already have plenty of unemployment here. Most people tell me that the money I spend buying fireworks will not go to some poor worker who spends all year, exposing himself to the toxic stuff that go into making these fireworks, but to the fat greedy people who run these factories. That I am just enabling child labour, bonded labour and nailing the final coffin in the safety problems issue by buying these fireworks. But I have a slightly different vantage point. It is child labour, It is bonded labour, these children don't get education, they are subjected to some serious health hazards by working in these factories, and it is absolutely inexcusable, but boycotting fireworks will not result in stopping these factories from employing children, nor will they be forced to shut down. In fact, shutting them down altogether isn't the best idea either. Picture this. Say about 40% of indians opt for a green diwali and do not burst any firecrackers. We have already established that the fat greedy men who run the firecracker industry are evil. So to compensate their loss, this is what they will do. they will fire about half their workforce. Now say about half of the unskilled labourers who get fired are able to find new odd jobs.  The other half will starve to death. Then there are those lucky ones that don't get fired, they will get overworked and possibly paid even less. now they'd have to work in even worse conditions. and this outcome is really just wishful thinking, This isn't even the worst case scenario. Now if about 90% of indians were to boycott fireworks, this industry might be forced to shut down, because the exports from sivakasi is estimated to be less than 5%.  But if it were to shut down we ought to provide alternate employment opportunities for these unskilled labourers. Sivakasi is largely an industrial town, there aren't a lot of agricultural plots or irrigation facilities, and these indigenous people of the firework industry aren't trained to be farmers or to work in any other industry. This is all they know. 
  But as I mentioned earlier, the ill treatment, child labour, bonded labour and unsafe working conditions are inexcusable. So what is the most viable solution to this issue? Ensure safer working conditions. Do not employ children. That is the most viable solution. China, the world's biggest manufacturers (with an annual domestic and export market pegged at Rs 80,000 crore) of fireworks does not face the same problems as India. Some Indian Manufacturers visit Chinese firework factories, buy their technologies and machines, and pay for their technicians to come to India and hold master classes. Technicians in china, hold diplomas and degrees in fireworks engineering whereas sadly, in India, we don't even have a R&D center for fireworks. We already have laws and regulations in place to ensure safer working conditions, And India does not endorse ill treatment of employees or child labour or bonded labour. The problem is that this is India, and nobody seems to be following these regulations. And the only way to fix this, is to fix this, Clean up the corruption that allows situations like this to breed. I'd like to believe that this should be a piece of cake for the country that successfully accomplished a mars mission with the cheapest budget in the world. While we're at it, We might even be able to develop eco friendly green crackers? They already do exist, but they don't seem to be very popular.
India!! :D
P.S: It also seems to me that the price of fireworks have hiked up, and the quality has noticeably reduced too. About 5 out of 10 flower pots in my pack of flower pots exploded today.they're not the kind of fireworks that are supposed to explode. I need to know if you have been observing this too or if Karma is just a real bitch. 
Is Karma really out to get me?
P.P.S: I was inspired to write this because I got into an argument very passionate discussion (I promise, We didn't even bust a Caps Lock) about this with two well meaning sweet strangers on the internet who have recently become good friends of mine. They tried to save me, tried to convince me to go green, but the evil in me strung out. And here I am. They are probably going to be disappointed with this, But who cares. You guys are amazing. Thank you fab and Pika. You inspired me. 
P.P.S.S: I didn't proof read this because I'm so badass. 

What is your take on the fireworks dilemma? Did you go green? Or are you evil like me? Also let me know if your fireworks were as bad as mine. Cause if it that was really just karma, I'm going to be in for much worse, after I publish this. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Happy Diwali!! :D


  1. Gay! ;_; y u do did. Group Ku va. Nalla vachkaren.
    Second half of KEG

    1. Well, I better let the better half of KEG know that. ;) :P

  2. P.S it was supposed to be y u do dis but I don't proof read :P
    Second half of KEG

    1. And That is why we are friends. :P Cause you're just as badass. ;)

  3. Christmas trees (both real and plastic) and decorations, excessive holiday spending:

    Consumer madness, excess spending and consumptive orgy, all in the name of Christmas.

    1. Sometimes we forget moderation is the key to everything. Even holiday spending.


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