Team Anna may be leading the charge against corruption, but this Diwali we really need to salute that part of civil society which has fostered a far greater sense of environmental consciousness and safety. For a start, many schools have for years now been teaching children about the hazardous conditions in which less fortunate children make the crackers that light up Diwali. Often, there have been horrific accidents and loss of life in these factories, many of which are in south India. As with Holi, over the years, the festivities have become more sedate, dare we say civilised and inclusive. The overdrive of shopping has been taking place this Diwali, but with labour becoming more expensive, the sale of crackers has seen a dip.
The festival of lights was once upon a time about just that, sweetness and light. It then evolved into a noisy, often offensive, mela in which sound mattered much more than light. We don't quite know if we must thank Anna and his gang, but there seems a little more awareness today that one should not literally blow up thousands of rupees worth of fireworks. Today, children for whom crackers were at one point of time not negotiable during Diwali festivities, are actually persuading their parents not to splurge on them. At a time when there is so much cynicism in public life, these are the trends that make life seem that much more worth it in the festive season.
We are all too quick to dismiss young people as self-obsessed. But it is young people who have today pushed the envelope on environmental consciousness, be it banning plastic bags or refusing to buy crackers that have been made by employing child labour. They hold out the hope for the future. Young people were at the forefront of making Holi a safer and cleaner festival. They have also been the driving force against cruelty to animals. Team Anna may present a very gloomy picture of where we are going wrong as a society and much of it is justified. But in this season of lights, we would like to look at the brighter side of things. People, like you and me, are making a huge difference to how we celebrate our diverse festivals. So, do enjoy yourselves and have a safe and happy Diwali.