Sunday, 8 November 2015

Smart Diwali

The city decorated like a bride with sparkling lights is back! That happy season with love among people and society bejeweled with lamps is back! Diwali is back and like every year the festive season has brought with it; the enthrallments, the enthusiasm, the joys, the hopes, the love!

The common love message people share with each other is ‘Have a happy and safe Diwali!’ Now, there is an obvious reason for the mention of the word ‘SAFE’. The word ‘safe’, as we all know, is used because of the association of firecrackers with Diwali. The original idea of the use of fireworks and firecrackers is the recreation of the event of Lord Ram returning to Ayodhya after the victory over Ravana. Another obvious fact! And we all know that though the intent of fireworks may be joyous, its evolution and use has been the cause of problems like people suffering from hypertension, high blood pressure; environmental problems in the form of smoke and noise and also birds fatality! While we don’t think of environment much, we at least have the courtesy to wish fellow people ‘Have a happy and safe Diwali!’

With the rise of violent crackers that are bound to shake you when they explode, the word ‘safe’ found its place in the wishes. Some people loved the explosives and many forcefully loved it because they thought this is the way to celebrate. Speaking against the disturbances that naughty crackers caused was considered not so trendy for some while those who spoke against it were considered non-trendy. Obviously, I am speaking about the mass public and not the intellectuals. Even though the intellectuals did speak and believed in crackers free Diwali, the thought did not have much reach. But then with the age of internet, the ‘good’ realization and the awareness were a gift. The co-growth of the social media and the smart-phones has made everyone aware and the number of intellectuals is increasing at a rate never seen before. In the resulting age of opportunities, there are many campaigns with the message ‘Say NO to crackers!’ The campaigns are dedicated to their cause. Additionally, many people have started recognizing that Diwali can be celebrated in a much better way with only lights. There is no need of exaggerated show! The diyas are enough, the simplicity is enough!

I was thinking about what will happen to fireworks manufacturers if crackers are banned. A thought came to me what if e-firecrackers are made! The barud (gunpowder) free firecrackers! Maybe some kind of electric or programmable crackers! I started researching on the internet. And this is how I ended up writing this article. 
Speaking a bit commercial, why would the major fireworks manufacturing companies support the anti-crackers move. Why will they want to stop their profit earning work? Just spare a thought; there are many people involved in the business! How can we suddenly ask them to switch their source of income from the stabilized industry to something else! Even if there has to be a complete ban on crackers, it cannot be immediate. It cannot be an overnight process. There should be a considerable time frame for them to shift. Otherwise there will be no justice to the firecrackers industry. Even then, there will be no fairytale ending to the ‘NO crackers’ movement. There are emotions involved with profession. There will be no absolute end. While thinking this, I queried Google on how will the people be affected if crackers are banned.  In India, the Supreme Court refused to impose a complete ban on fireworks in late October 2015. The fireworks industry in Tirupati, the largest in the country with over 800 fireworks factories, also supports over five lakh families. The picture below shows fireworks manufacturing in Sivakasi city.

Ok; not thinking commercially; thinking about the dangers and un-necessity of the crackers; it is so very correct to not involve the barud (gunpowder), the explosion, the thud in the moments of joy! But what if one wants to involve the sparkles, the colors! What if one wants to see the sky filled with erupting sprinkles synchronized with fusing noise and then disappearing into the eternity! The little kids awestruck with creative crackers that make the golden lights rise, rotate and dance in front of their little eyes! "Diwali is known for fireworks, it is not complete without bursting crackers. So the best way is to opt for eco-friendly crackers and save the environment without dampening the festive mood," said Akhilesh Gupta, a businessman.

Now, this is interesting! There is no one solution if we think of every perspective. But I feel we can be smart here. We can have a responsible Diwali even if we use crackers. There are always golden mid-ways.

1. Fixed time for the use of crackers
We do think that crackers should not be used after 10 pm. We blame the police, the government and what not for not involving strict laws pertaining to this! But can’t we do something ourselves? There are WhatsApp groups of societies, communities, city locations, friends, etc. We can decide unanimously that we shall adhere to fixed timings that will least affect the society. Do we need the police to take the initiative?

2. Smartly purchasing crackers
A flowerpot cracker is more delightful than a sutli bomb! Fireworks like sutli bomb shall not be purchased. I strongly feel that the lover of sutli bomb is actually a lover of gaining attention of the people or a lover of violence! There are choices of chakris, the flowerpot and other low intensity delighting fireworks if one looks for smartly.  There is positivity regarding this. The bombs that make loud noise have become less popular with people. A fireworks dealer in city said, "Due to a decrease in demand of such crackers, we have slashed the stock of bombs and other sound-producing firecrackers by half this year. Even then, not even 50% of that stock is expected to be sold this Diwali."
Interestingly, fireworks companies too are coming up with a range of eco friendly crackers every year with as low price as possible. The eco friendliness of the crackers being increased with each passing year! Another dealer said, "We are noticing an increase in demand of eco-friendly crackers with each passing year and therefore, we have increased its stock this year by 50% from the last year."

3. Having scintillating sky shows at prominent locations only
Fireworks like 1000 shots, 500 shots, etc. that lit up the sky are always a treat to the eyes. But what about the birds! Obviously, they must be getting scared. It also leads to their death. In December 2011, 5000 birds died in Beebs, Arkansas due to fireworks. We don’t even care for the number of bird fatalities due to crackers in India. I did not find a single statistics.
But we can easily work upon the situation. What if prominent areas of cities are only allowed for the use of sky shows! Like the Queen’s necklace in Mumbai! (Shown in the pic below) The government and people can work on this together; assigning suitable blocks of land to launch such crackers. If this is implemented in a disciplined way, birds can find places away from such locations where there is no such danger to them. There should be promotion of commercial display of such fireworks rather than setting of own pyrotechnic devices.

4. Innovation
The fireworks industry shall always aim for continuous evolution. There is not only Diwali, there is New Year’s Eve, there are marriages, there are occasions of victories of netas (politicians), etc. Crackers are part of every celebration. The industry should look out for chemical engineers, innovators to work on developing eco friendly formulas. The fireworks manufacturers should always aim for environmental friendly goals to achieve along with profit.

We can easily celebrate Diwali in our own way. All that matters is being responsible. If we think of everyone's perspective we can have a grand festive season. So, let's have a 'smart' Diwali and thus a 'safe' Diwali!

Happy Diwali 2015!