Firecrackers are merely constituents of gunpowder comprising of various elements which gives rise to prolong combustion. In India, it means a lot more than that. It has aesthetic purposes since it has been believed that ‘Agnichurna’ was used in ancient times to fight enemies during wars. Be it marriages, birth or festivals, firecrackers are a form of awakening light by defeating the darkness. One such prevalent case has been of Diwali, where the entire country lights up together and celebrates the mythological victory of good over evil.
Firecrackers believably have grown during the end of Mughal dynasty and start of British East India Company and are burst like any other ritual in the country. Apart from acting as a ritual, there are also scientific reasons why the bursting has become so prevalent. Diwali comes after the monsoon season, at a time when the population of insects increases rapidly and encroaches various human habitats, be it cities or villages. That is also why most houses paint homes. Crackers then act like city wide fogging which cleans these insects, making a healthy and safe home for its residents throughout the year. This act of bursting crackers has been set on the hearts of people igniting homes and binding people all over the country. Firecrackers in a way, signals the entire country that everyone is celebrating a festival together. The bursting of crackers has been serving a ritual since decades across India. The religious sentiments that are aligned with the act are huge.
Focusing on the origin of Diwali, it is not only a specific event but the entire country actually has its varied forms of celebrating it. Like Ma Kali is worshipped in Bengal, Lord Ganesha is also worshipped in many homes, Jains specifically devote their day to Lord Mahavira. Lighting diyas and bursting crackers has been going on since time immemorial and along with it is lies belief of most Indians. These rituals significantly have stories to tell upon which India bases its heart. The sound of firecrackers, according to the older generation, is an example and indication of joy in people’s heart which makes the Gods aware of their state in their devotees’ lives. Hence, it clearly foreplays as an act of worship to satisfy the God as well. Most people in the country who cannot be in their homes during these times depend on the sound of crackers and lights around to feel complete.
Apart from these sentiments, there are various real-life problems attached to this. The firecracker industry gives employment to a large segment of people. Amidst the lack of employment scarcity already observed in the country, banning firecrackers can give rise to a different issue altogether. The claims of pollution due to crackers is a valid argument but pollution is also caused due to automobiles. And it is impossible to point out which act causes more harm. At this point of time, the firecracker industry is worth of 6000 crores and the economic aspect stands as the biggest reason why India cannot afford banning firecrackers. What can also not be ignored is the fact that the people who are working under such sites and have become skilled for this specific business have a family to support. Most of them found security in this industry and gave a major part of their lives to excel in it. With complete ban will come the threat to such workers who would face situations to start new amidst crisis until their death. There is also a relevance of economic aspect aligned with the fundamental rights. The extended jurisdiction of Article 21 guaranteed under the Constitution of India gives the right of livelihood to manufacturers. It is important to realise that crackers are not the only factor of pollution and respiratory problems, there are other factors involved like the wind and temperature which contributes to it. Until and unless, there is proper data on how much pollution and harm has been caused due to firecrackers, the industry cannot be strictly banned. Any violation of this would also be a violation of their right to business.
However, the way forward is certainly not dull as it sounds now. There can be terms where both of the situations can be kept under control. Some of the ideas that can be implemented as alternatives to the current scenario are as follows:
- On adopting the various laws as introduced in the developing countries such as Washington, Switzerland etc, the idea is of having a regulation on the bursting of crackers. There can be only specific occasions on which the use of firecrackers shall be allowed and only up to a certain time. It would help preserve the religious sentiments as such.
- Green crackers shall be developed which would not fall under these regulations. Claims on the pollution levels would not be affected by Green Crackers, they shall be environment friendly. It would help keep the industry intact along with the socio-economic affects.
- The industry shall not favour child labour but at the end of the day, child labour happens in the need of money. So, there shall be job securities given to the skilled labourers who have given at least five years to the same industry.
- In order to support the sale and good flow in the industry, there shall be one day sponsored by the Government when there shall be a firecracker show in an inner area. The show shall be open to all but at own’s risk.
- The license of selling firecrackers shall be issued by the Government.