The recent debate on the cracker ban in Delhi as with just about everything else has proved to be contentious and controversial. Chetan Bhagat picked up cudgels on behalf of the beleaguered fireworks industry, though every time he tweets, it works against whatever he is espousing. In the cacophony of voices that have been raised for and against the issue, as always it is reason that has been silenced.
Supposedly the ban on the sale of firecrackers in the capital city is to ascertain whether this can make a palpable difference to the dangerous levels of pollution in Delhi. Needless to say, this decision is most certainly going to prove inconclusive and ineffectual simply because this simplistic measure fails to tackle the root causes that led to such a deplorable situation in the first place. People burst crackers only during the Diwali holidays and probably during the occasional wedding or party. But thanks to the relentless smear campaign against the fireworks industry and the little town where I live, which is reeling from crippling losses and may never recover, this is hardly a regular occurrence and the finger of blame can’t be pointed solely at sparklers and chakras.
Let us turn our attention instead towards the major causes of air pollution, though the aetiology behind Delhi’s affliction is hard to pinpoint. However, we do know enough. Vehicular pollution is a major offender and the solution of course would be to use public transportation, car – pooling and avoid driving and flying as much as possible. But I simply cannot see a future where people walk to work or cycle to get their grocery shopping done after those environment – destroying, gas – guzzling vehicles are banned for good, can you?
The umpteen industrial processes that have the unhappy end result of spewing that toxic looking black smoke into the atmosphere, the burning of agricultural, factory and just about any waste are eco miscreants as well. But of course, we are not freaks to stop progress in its tracks and roll back the industrial revolution, so that we can go back to living like tree hugging hippies. We are cultured people and in India we believe in underpaying the help to keep our houses sparkling clean and dump our trash outside but we certainly cannot shell out for the expensive process of treating wastes and disposing it responsibly. However, while holidaying on foreign shores, we are willing to rant on Facebook about our stupid government that has failed to give us sanitary living conditions and has forced us to endure the unsightly squalor of the squatters in slums.
Tobacco is a proven, lethal source of air pollution but why should we ban the cancer stick and incur the wrath of a gazillion billion dollar industry when we can simply force telly viewers and the movie theatre crowd to listen to Rahul Dravid’s cautionary voice about the evils of smoking with graphic pics of tumours in extreme close up? Our refrigerators, fans, air – conditioners, room fresheners and even the paint on our walls contain chemicals that have not helped the cause of the much lamented hole in the ozone layer. Surprisingly all these products are endorsed by our revered celebrities who then exhort us from their twitter or instagram accounts while reclining within the cool confines of their fancy, imported cars to celebrate Diwali without those pesky fireworks which are the bane of the environment.
The thing is we all care about our creature comforts far more than the possibility of a tragic catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions in the future. So we are not going to give up our cars, cigarettes, or any of the by – products of the industrial revolution that has made our lives so much easier. Instead, we will be hypocrites and voice our support for the cracker ban across social media so that we can feel better about destroying the world.