“If…the machine of government…is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.” This is a statement by Henry David Thoreau. It perfectly symbolises what India is going through right now. For those that have been paying attention, it is no secret that the ‘Indian State’ and its judiciary have more or less announced a war on Hindu festivals – more so, on Diwali.
Firecrackers – which have historically been an essential part of Diwali celebrations, and which in contemporary times support a massive domestic industry in India are suddenly being declared taboo. Firecrackers are being banned. People are being told what firecrackers to buy and what not to. Hell, Indians are even being dictated the time slot on Diwali during which firecrackers can be burst.
If this is not the state’s authority overarching upon all citizens, one really does not know what is. And the saddest part really is that this brazen assault on India’s firecracker industry is coming at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is at the helm of affairs, who has, in the past, identified himself as a Hindu nationalist. It is now time for him to act.
Supreme Court’s Take on Firecrackers
The Supreme Court on Friday clarified that there is no total ban on the use of firecrackers and only those fireworks which contain Barium salts are prohibited. The Supreme Court also asserted that celebration cannot be at the cost of others’ health. It said under the guise of celebration, nobody can be permitted to infringe upon the right to health of others, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and that nobody can be permitted to play with the life of others, more particularly the senior citizens and the children.
Read more: Supreme Court admits that it’s the stubble that causes pollution and not the humble Diwali crackers
This comes in the backdrop of the Supreme Court subtly acknowledging the fact that stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana was the main reason for air quality in North India, particularly in the national capital deteriorating. The Supreme Court, on Thursday, while hearing an application alleging violation of the order banning the use of certain chemicals by the manufacturers, observed, “The issue of firecrackers is only for the time being. But the main matter related to stubble burning is pending and we haven’t got time to deal with that. After vacations, we’ll hear that issue too.”
Pollution Control Board’s Clean Chit to Firecrackers
Earlier as reported by TFI, the Central Pollution Control Board had given a clean chit to the firecrackers that are an essential part of the festivals of Diwali and Dussehra, refusing to hold them responsible for the deterioration of the air quality that has now become the norm of the national capital, New Delhi.
Central Pollution Control Board had submitted an affidavit in response to the query posed by the Supreme Court in concern to the effect of the firecracker ban in the NCR region.
Read more: Pollution Control Board’s Report about Firecrackers is out
The board stated, “The respiratory system related symptoms and signs were not much different during pre and post-Dussehra and Diwali. Although there was some increase in a cough and breathlessness, but this did not translate into any significant illness requiring immediate medical attention. Other system related complaints were also not much during pre and post Dussehra and Diwali.”
The Calcutta High Court’s Perplexing Order
Despite the Supreme Court clarifying that it has not banned all firecrackers, and that green firecrackers are permitted to be used – the Calcutta High Court decided to take matters into its own hands. Calcutta High Court has banned the use of all forms of firecrackers, including green crackers, in celebrating the upcoming occasions of Diwali, Kali Puja, Chaath Puja, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
A division bench of the court had the gall to say that “only wax or oil-based diyas might be used”. The Calcutta High Court has now taken upon itself the task of telling people how they ought to celebrate Deepawali.
The bench gave primacy to the “right to live” and citizens’ larger interests, choosing to overlook the “smaller interest” of those dependent on the firecracker industry. The order cited the “pandemic situation, which is getting marginally worse by the day” and “the fact that even moderate Air Quality Index (AQI) can cause severe difficulties for people suffering from respiratory problems”. It is not known whether the Calcutta High Court paid any heed to the report by the Central Pollution Control Board before deciding to tell people how to celebrate Deepawali.
Time For Narendra Modi to Step In
It is high time Prime Minister Narendra Modi rises to the occasion and overrides all these nonsensical, lousy and discriminatory orders both by courts and state governments and makes it clear that Indians have the right to celebrate Diwali as they deem fit. India’s firecracker industry is estimated to be around Rs 5,000 crore, with the majority of the production in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu.
This industry should not be destroyed at the behest of liberals wanting to dampen the festive cheer of Indians around Diwali. The Modi government should bring in an ordinance that declares that all Indians will be allowed to use firecrackers as they deem fit on Diwali and all upcoming festivals. If people are not allowed to celebrate festivals freely, one can simply not gauge the discontent which will set in, and the BJP will end up suffering in a big manner. Immediate corrective measures are the need of the hour.