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Monday Musings: Don’t let your children smoke cigarettes... or firecrackers

The days of families bursting firecrackers and creating a nuisance are clearly numbered

pune Updated: Oct 15, 2017 23:51 IST
Abhay Vaidya
Abhay Vaidya
Hindustan Times, Pune
Monday Musings,Don’t let your children,smoke cigarettes
Talking of air pollution alone, we complain round-the-year of high air pollution and rising incidence of a variety of ailments, especially asthma among children, while knowing fully well that Diwali firecrackers are a contributing factor. (HT FILE PHOTO)

Taking your children to purchase firecrackers is like taking them to a cigarette shop and asking them to purchase cigarettes of their choice.

No sensible parent would do that and yet, we give in to the demands for firecrackers from our innocent little darlings out of a misplaced sense of love and affection.

Firecrackers are undoubtedly enjoyable and we all had our thrilling moments in our childhood. The time has now come for us to help and encourage our children to find that joy in something that is less harmful and polluting. We are already overwhelmed by pollution and carcinogenic elements on all fronts - be it in our food and water in the form of chemical flavourings and taste-enhancers in our junk foods, pesticides in our fruits and vegetables and hormones and adulterants in the milk that we force our children to consume.

Why compound all of this by purchasing expensive firecrackers and then getting ourselves and our children to inhale toxic smoke? We ourselves add to the air pollution during Diwali – and the soil and water pollution from the firecracker garbage, by the hundreds of tonnes, that ultimately goes into the water bodies and landfills. It returns to us in various ways, through the things we consume. Talking of air pollution alone, we complain round-the-year of high air pollution and rising incidence of a variety of ailments, especially asthma among children, while knowing fully well that Diwali firecrackers are a contributing factor.

There’s little that we can do at the macro level, apart from put pressure on a government which, like all governments, is slow to act. At the individual level, however, we can take instant action by cheering the Delhi high court’s severe strictures against firecrackers and voluntarily imposing a personal ban on these ugly pollutants. Imagine the joy of breathing fresh mountain air in the company of friends and family at one of the many agri-tourism farms or hilly spots around Pune, instead of suffering intense air and noise pollution from firecrackers?

The winds of change have arrived and people who are wise are doing exactly this. They escape the pressure from their children to purchase firecrackers by going on an enjoyable Diwali vacation and return fully refreshed – physically and emotionally - from that short vacation.

The business and trading communities will of course take pride in bursting firecrackers by the thousands on the roads and the places where they live. They take pride in showing-off their expensive firecrackers - the best of which of course, come from China. They see the nuisance they create as a part of their tradition so it will take them a while to wake up. The rest of us can be smarter and move ahead.

There is a way for all to enjoy firecrackers while fostering the community spirit of Diwali and without causing harm to anyone. Take the example of the community fireworks that are seen in the United States on the occasion of their Independence Day on the fourth of July. Entire families take their picnic baskets, sit on the lawns and enjoy the magnificent fireworks in the sky organised by the city council.

The days of Indian families bursting firecrackers and creating a nuisance are clearly numbered as can be seen from declining sales and growing public sentiment against this tradition which needs to be discarded quickly. We don’t want our children to smoke cigarettes or firecrackers. Happy Diwali!

First Published: Oct 15, 2017 22:57 IST