Monday, October 27, 2008

It's time to "celebrate" Diwali

Here's wishing you a very Happy Diwali.

Food for thought on the festival of lights (and crackers).
"Forced child labour is a grim reality at Sivakasi, the capital of the cracker industry in India. A documentary film released by a human rights organisation shows children employed in match and cracker making around Sivakasi. Children between the age group of four to fifteen years toil for upto ten hours a day. They work in extremely hazardous conditions with no fire fighting safeguards. Activists say established brands outsource their work to the unorganised sector in remote villages. According to estimates, at least 2000 children are being exploited this way for a paltry sum of Rs 10 to 40 a day... Local people blame it on poverty and alcoholism that drive parents to send their children for work. Mainstram companies say they've no control over this... It seems there's still a long way to go and till then the sound and sparkle of fireworks may carry the labour of a child"

Here's the news report from NDTV:

One can pontificate about celebrating a "green" and socially responsible Diwali by refraining from crackers. We could possibly succeed - to some extent - in reducing the decibel levels and the levels of sulphur dioxide and suspended particulate matter as compared to a normal Indian Diwali. The only problem is that these poor children get paid even less because of the drop in sales of fireworks. They eat even less than their usual meagre amounts. Their tormentors treat them ever more badly. All this while we in the cities feel good about how we are helping eradicate child labour.

Anyway, let's celebrate the festival of lights, the victory over evil, and uplifting of spiritual darkness. It's an individual's choice, how he/she defines "celebrate". Wish you happiness on Diwali and after.

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