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So our children remember the joys of celebrating Deepawali: Why OpIndia is launching Mission Loud and Bright Diwali 2021

Festivities were expected to be muted this year anyway given the pandemic but the ban on firecrackers has ensured that they never take off. Like most people, we at OpIndia were mightily distressed as well. And thus, we announced our mission for a loud and bright Diwali 2021.

Diwali this year has been more unusual than ever before over the course of the lifetimes of most of us. Festivities were expected to be muted this year anyway given the pandemic but the ban on firecrackers has ensured that they never take off. Like most people, we at OpIndia were mightily distressed as well. And thus, we announced our mission for a loud and bright Diwali 2021.

Our announcement was motivation as much by ideological commitment as it was by by emotional turmoil. There is only so much news one could cover regarding the reckless destruction of livelihoods at the time of festivities without feeling an impulse towards ensuring that such a thing does not occur again.

Most of all, we were motivated by the image of that little girl banging her head against the vehicle crying profusely because the police was taking her father away to jail for the great sin of selling crackers. No child deserves to have the smile robbed off her face on the occasion of Diwali because her father was selling crackers. It is monstrous, it is inhumane, it is morally reprehensible.

Similarly, we felt compelled to act when we covered the evident distress among those invested in the cracker industry as they suffered massive losses. Considering all of this, we felt we had take a stand. As such, the words in our announcement are just our first thoughts and nothing concrete has been planned yet.

Plans will evolve going forward and we will rely on our many well-wishers for their valuable inputs and suggestions on how to move forward. As of now, we do have certain ideas regarding how to proceed and the areas we need to focus on. The initiative will require volunteer work and contribution for it to succeed. Here, we shall highlight some of the areas that we need to focus our attention on.

Schools

Propaganda and the brainwashing of the populace works best and begins at schools. For years now, attempts have been made to brainwash children against the use of firecrackers. The children of today make the laws in the future. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we make an attempt to address children in schools directly and authorities at schools over the issue of firecrackers.

In a just world, perhaps, we wouldn’t have to travel to such lengths to ensure the continuity of our traditions but we are not living in a just world. Therefore, we ought to make a concerted effort to speak with school authorities in order to ensure that propaganda against crackers and other Hindu traditions are not peddled.

At the same time, parents ought to be convinced to approach school authorities as well if they discover their children are being brainwashed into toxic ideologies.

Liaising with Traders

We will attempt to establish relations with firecracker manufacturers and traders in order to learn more about the matter and secure research that elaborates on the alleged causal links between firecrackers and pollution. As far as we are, there is no legitimate research that states that crackers are to be held responsible for the poor air quality in numerous cities and towns across the country.

For governments across the country, firecrackers have become an easy scapegoat to avoid taking any real actions to curb pollution. The cracker ban has become an annual ritual for governments to pretend that they are taking the matter of pollution seriously while for the rest of the year, no actions are taken at all to address the real concerns.

As a consequence of the arbitrary cracker ban, hundreds of thousands of those associated with the cracker industry will be impacted. Their very livelihood is today threatened. We will attempt to coordinate with them in order to prevent another such catastrophe in 2021.

Legal Activism

The most important avenue will be the legal front. We will collaborate with those already fighting for the cause and explore how we can meaningfully contribute towards the same. The battle to save Diwali will be fought in the Courts has to be fought in the Courts as well and we will attempt to ensure that the Hindu community collectively puts their best feet forward.

The odds may not be in our favour but efforts have to be made nonetheless. What we believe is that the cracker ban is completely unjustified and through arguments based on research, we would attempt to overturn the state sanctioned persecution that has been unleashed against the cracker industry.

The NGT has stepped in to ban firecrackers in cities and towns across the country on the occasion of Diwali. Numerous state governments have gone the same way. And in certain states, the Judiciary has banned crackers as well. Therefore, we need a collective effort at all levels to overturn the efforts to outlaw firecrackers.

We rely on you, dear readers

OpIndia has been fortunate to have a dedicated set of readers who have stood by us through thick and thin. Through high and lows, our readers have encouraged us, strengthen our resolve and provided the much needed moral support required for a platform like OpIndia to succeed. In this initiative as well, we do hope that our readers will engage meaningfully in order to ensure its success.

We seek ideas and suggestions on the best possible path forward. Ideas and suggestions can be sent to us on our emails. Furthermore, the initiative will require a great deal of volunteer work. Therefore, contribution towards that end will always be greatly appreciated.

Why we fight

The ban on firecrackers is as much an affront to our cultural sensibilities as it is towards the role that we expect our governments to perform. As citizens, we expect out governments to create employment opportunities, not destroy them. We expect our governments to make genuine efforts to curb pollution, not engage in arbitrary actions that not only have zero impact on pollution but also destroy livelihoods in the process.

We want Hindus to be able to celebrate their festivals without fearing that they will be put in prison for celebrating it in the manner we have always celebrated. We don’t want Hindus to be harassed by the police on the eve of their most important festival. We don’t want the Police posing as Superman while projecting firecracker sellers as some of dreaded criminals.

We do not want little girls banging their head against police vehicles in a desperate attempt to stop them from taking away their father to jail on the eve of Diwali. We do not want Hindus to be projected as criminals for bursting firecrackers on Diwali. We do not darkness to prevail on the lives of those associated with the cracker industry during the festival of lights.

The only thing we want is for the Indian state to stop waging a war against the traditions of the dominant culture of this country. We want the state to stop waging a war against its own citizens. But above all, we want our children to celebrate Diwali in the manner we have when we were kids. We want our children to be able to carry on the traditions of our ancestors. Our legacy is what we wish to pass to them, it is the most valuable heritage that we possess. And that is why we must resist.

There is no fixed plan in place yet. But we hope to put one in place soon. And we do hope to play our part in ensuring that 2021 is the loudest and brightest Diwali in history.

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Searched termsDiwali cracker ban
Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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