|Some Heart-Rending facts
or the commonly known fireworks have become
an inseparable part of festivities not
only in India but all over the world.
India produces roughly Rs. 250 crores
worth of firecrackers annually. Despite
the erratic fluctuation in the market
prices this commodity sells liker hot-cake
during almost all national festivities
including marriages, victory celebrations
and other occasions of revelry. Of these,
Diwali is one festival which accounts
for the highest consumption in our country.
For a person with a bent of mind towards
the social cause and possessing a humane
heart, the under mentioned points on the
dark reality of the dazzling fireworks
would provide food for thought.
- The effulgent, colourful and deafening
crackers come out of the tiny hands
of over one and half lakh children compelled
to toil day and night in suffocating
worksheds, anticipating death or mutilation
due to the explosive nature of the material
matches & fireworks industries of
Sivakasi, Virudh Nagar, Sattur districts
of Tamil Nadu state are holding more
than a lakh of children, crushing the
very enjoyable span of their childhood.
Besides, Agra, Jhansi, Lucknow, Kanpur,
Etawah, Varansi districts of Uttar Pradesh;
Jaipur, Bikaner, Udaipur of Rajasthan;
Bhopal,, Indore, Raipur of Madhya Pradesh;
Rohtak, Bhiwani of Haryana, Howrah,
24 Pargans of West Bengal also account
for child employment in thousands in
this extremely hazardous industry. Even
places unknown earlier for firecrackers
have been reported of having illegal
firecrackers units. 100 child labourers
were rescued last year from 15 such
illegal firecrackers units in the town
of Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh.
- The production pace gets accelerated
during September-October to meet the
enormous demand during Diwali. To cope
up with the target, thousands of children
are employed on casual basis.
- A large number of accidents occurring
in units located in remote areas go
raw material for firecrackers are highly
explosive in nature. A speck of slackness
could mean instant death or crippling.
Besides, due to constant exposure to
chemicals like sulphur, potash, phosphorous,
chlorate etc., the children contract
deadly infections of lung, skin, kidney
& fireworks industry being highly
hazardous, the law provides for imprisonment
from 3 months to years and a fine upto
Rs. 20,000. But, thanks to the various
law-enforcing agencies, this legal instrument
has remained a paper tiger till date.
Leave alone the imprisonment, till date
the maximum penalty imposed for violation
of this law is a paltry Rs. 200/-.
- The revelations of both governmental
and non-governmental studies on this
subject agree that these units keep
flouting the norms and provisions of
Explosive Act, Factory Act and Labour
Laws. Yet there is a mushrooming of
such units all over the country are
run without registration of license.
can we tackle the menace?
“Charity begins at home”.
Let us not buy crackers and educate
our children about the darker side
of this illuminating object. In its
place, provide your children with
colourful candles, attractive toys
etc. The children might be obstinate
in the beginning. But certainly they
will watch the point with our perseverance
Spread the message among your friends,
relatives and well-wishers. Try to
arrange an informal family get-together
of theses persons, well ahead of Diwali
and explain the plight of the children
engaged in the industry. Try to convince
them and the children on the wasteful
extravaganza, the environmental pollution,
risk of accidents and dangers to lives
and property involved in lighting
you happen to be a teacher, or doctor,
or people’s representative,
social worker, or a village head your
responsibility naturally assumes greater
dimension. Try to educate the children,
parents and others taking few hours
off your schedule. You are doing a
world of good to those lakhs of children
fro whom Diwali or Dussehra does not
convey anything special than a killing
routine at work.
Social workers can organize wall-writing,
distribution of handbills, personal
contact of head-masters/head-mistresses
etc. The children will easily get
influenced through their teacher.
If possible the teachers can arrange
a rally in their area to highlight
the festivities of Diwali, Dussehra
and other religious functions, cultural
programmes like street drama, audio-visual
programmes etc. cam be organized.
Contact press/media and get them involved
in highlighting the issue. Press statements
be issued covering the entire gamut
of the campaign. Launch a signature
campaign in support of boycott of
fireworks involving prominent personalities
of the area.
you are running a school or a center
a take out procession of children
and others to spread the message in
the school and the neighborhood.
a couple of days before Diwali, organise
a public gathering of like-minded
persons to demonstrate symbolic boycott
of crackers by immersing them in water.
Celebrate Diwali by lighting lamps,
not by blasting childhood.