Diwali has turned out to be a bit of a damp squib for firecracker traders, who are complaining about a 50 per cent slump in business this year. They have blamed this drop in sales on the growing number of awareness campaigns against the adverse effects of bursting crackers.
While this may be a loss for the vendors, it is a triumph for activists and citizens who have long been fighting against fireworks and the noise and air pollution they cause. Such ‘go green’ campaigns might, at first, have been just fashionable phrases bandied about at cocktail parties, but they are finally starting to show results.
We see a marked drop in decibel levels this festive season, which is a good thing for patients in hospitals or people convalescing at home. This points to greater sensitisation of the public.
Of course, rising inflation may have also affected sales. With food prices spiralling, the middle class is finding budgets strained to breaking point. All across, festivities have been muted and that may be one reason why cracker sales have been slow.
Having said that, one must add that even children are more aware of the dangers of crackers, with campaigns reaching out to schools and colleges. One must commend the role of educational institutions, which have reinforced the message that by saying no to noisy crackers, one does not become a party pooper, but is simply being sensitive to a number of issues.
Very importantly, this has been backed by parents who are asking kids to go slow on the noisy bombs and make do with lights and other aesthetics for celebrations. As a result, this Diwali is more about light than sound.
Let us hope this awareness stretches to everyday things like less honking on our roads, and, respect for the ban on loud music late in the night. A green Diwali should be the starting point for a greener New Year.