When God said, ‘let there be light’, even He could not have envisaged how seriously we in this neck of the woods would take it. When it comes to festivities, we are second to none. But come Diwali and we knock the Fourth of July pyrotechnics into a cocked hat with our enthusiasm to spread light. This Diwali comes after a particularly trying time in which we have seen the dark side of our political and public life. From the Maharashtra scandal to the Commonwealth Games near fiasco, the run-up to the festival of lights has been notably dim. But nothing keeps us down for too long, given our capacity to move on as no other nation really can. However, there are very many good things happening which have made Diwali all the more enjoyable for many of us.
Of course, there is the spend, spend, spend all around which can be grating for those without the cash to splash. But people have also become more law-abiding, observing the rules against very loud fireworks and against continuing the merriment late into the night. Schools across urban areas have done an exemplary job of inculcating several noteworthy values in children. One is to shun firecrackers made with child labour and the other is to try and go green in purchasing them as far as possible. Children have also been encouraged to spare a thought for those less fortunate than them and try and bring a little light into their lives as well. In many localities, people
have gone in for collective festivals, instead of going in for individual celebrations. All this does not an urban dream make, but it is a bright start.
What we now need is an extension of this shedding of light into the many blights that have come to characterise our polity. If this were done with rigour and transparency, perhaps come next Diwali there would be that much more to cheer for many millions of our citizens who live in perpetual darkness in more ways than one. Many rays of hope are visible in the young. Perhaps, put off by the less than savoury ways of an old and entrenched system, the feeling of community and compassion for those less fortunate has become more widespread among Gen Next, which has been unfairly pilloried as being in perennial party mode. It is an older generation that must learn lessons from them. As the world’s youngest nation, this is the light at the end of what has been a very long and inky tunnel. Hold on to that thought. Here is wishing you a safe and happy Diwali.