Every cracker burst this Diwali had a message that echoed through the Country

“Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men.."

If we had been told how the crop burning in Haryana and Punjab were being tackled on a war footing or how the planting patterns were being monitored and how peripheral roads into the NCR were being fast-tracked so that the number of trucks plying through the capital was reduced.

Or If we knew multiple metro lines were being rapidly laid so that people were encouraged to infrequently use their private vehicles, or the bus service was being brought up to speed.

If leaf burning was seriously prohibited and compost pits were not being used for trash but making manure.

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If construction sites were actually being sprinkled with water at the end of the day to reduce the deadly fine dust particle.

If the cost of owning multiple cars was made prohibitive to control vehicular traffic & its emissions….

If polluting industries were penalized.

If the green cover of the NCR was being enhanced instead of being depleted.

If we were told all of this or any of this, we would be comforted that the agencies responsible were on the job and were working towards giving us clean air & hopefully one day soon in the future, blue skies.

It has been noted worldwide that when people see an honest and concerted effort by Governments to formulate a long-term policy that will benefit every person in every family, they rise to the occasion too.

Swachh Bharat Movement is one such example which India has made its own. We also saw that for Demonetization. (If it was a success or not isn’t an argument which I will deviate into now)

The common man stood in queues, uncomplaining because he believed the leader behind the idea had a greater good in mind.

In fact, the ordinary Indian became a soldier in that fight and was proud of it.

How did the Ministry which proposed the idea and the Supreme Court, eager in its almost evangelical zeal, even for a moment conclude that a cracker ban on Diwali was the solution to our pollution problems?

Is it that they don’t understand the problem at all?

Or is that they have no idea how to handle it?

Or was it simply a case of taking for granted a compliant community because all else had failed?

What seems even more surprising, is that they actually believed people would quietly comply on this very important festival & the ban could be enforced with a ratio of 150 policemen to a 100,000 Indians.

Surely lawmakers understand the psychology of the business.

To preach one must be seen to be blemish free.

To lead one must be seen to have integrity.

To deliver justice one must be seen to be impartial.

When citizens see –

Thieves, rapists, murderers let off without even a rap on the knuckles. The wealthy and powerful swagger fearlessly & live by their own rules. Certain communities and faiths handled with kid gloves, despite inconvenience & insensitivity to the citizenry at large, they cynically recognize that the dispensers of justice are neither blemish free, have integrity or are impartial.

It has also been regrettably noted that where the State & the Judiciary are least fearful, they come down with all their might-

As on protestors while they slept at Baba Ramdev’s rally and on Sabarimala devotees as they make their way to the deity, while we debate ourselves hoarse as our soldiers are seriously injured or killed by Kashmiri stone pelters.

As on Jallikatu which it seems is crueller than the slow slaughter of goats & camels on the streets, filling open drains with blood on Eid.

As on human pyramids of Dahi Handi which are perceived to be more dangerous than slashing swords & knives used at Moharram.

As on a poor farmer protecting his much-loved cow who is considered more dangerous & inimical than armed cattle smugglers.

Surely, surely the fierce reaction to the onslaught by the Judiciary & the State on a much-revered SINGLE temple tradition should have been a lesson in a hurry to both – that Hindus no longer wish to remain compliant, taken for granted & needled.

Each cracker explosion, each sparkler, anaar and chakri, by no means ‘green’, well before and beyond the mandated hours was a message:

One section of society is not the only stakeholder to maintain law & order.

The one that has to carry the burden of ‘secularism’, accommodate and accept every passing opinion on its celebrations and tradition. It is also not the only one responsible for pollution.

The States and Centre must get their act together & state their intentions clearly before putting the onus on anyone.

It would be interesting and educative to know that why was the cracker ban extended beyond the borders of the NCR and as far as the coastal regions, which don’t suffer a pollution problem.

The messaging is indeed confusing.

Are they fighting pollution or the festival of Diwali itself?

One recalls what Ayn Rand wrote in the Atlas Shrugged:

“Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr Ferris.

“We want them to be broken.

You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men.

The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals.

Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens?

What’s there in that for anyone?

But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt.

Now that’s the system, Mr Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

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