CrackerBan is like banning farting in a storm
There is a much cherished festival for which the kids wait all year, a night when they can burst crackers, play with fire, torture pets & have fun. And then one fine day the authorities ban firecrackers, and make its manufacture, sales & usage criminal.
The festival is Shab-e-Barat. Country is Pakistan. Year 2011.
They banned crackers citing it’s an ugly new innovation to have crept into the observance of a religious festival, an impurity which needs to be weeded out as it is not part of the religion. Sounds familiar?
However, In India the reasons cited for the #crackerban were different & well-intentioned. Nobody will complain if the air they breathe is less poisonous. But if that is your only solution this season, it’s like hoping Earth hour will reduce Global warming. Especially, when a court makes it criminal to switch on the lights during the Earth hour. It’s bound to create such a gag-reflex among people -charged with religious fervour- that it’ll undo any good while it was enforced.
Because what do people do, when you prohibit them from jumping off the stairs? Yes, they jump off the roof.
Every year the people of Delhi-NCR turn into Guinea pigs for the civil authorities to test new stuff on with no empirical evidence. Odd-even last year, which evidently didn’t work. So this year, we have been subjected to a new experiment, a #CrackerBan. Meanwhile, Farmers in Punjab have already started burning acres of crops sans any cost-effective alternative. No science or technology has helped them. The air in Delhi is already arid. So hoping to bring down AQI levels without solving the chief problem, is like prohibiting people to fart during a storm in a hope to minimise damage. At least it’s the step in the right direction, right?
In India, the only two avenues where people explicitly display how much black money they have accumulated are Weddings & Crackers. 15 years ago, when I used to negotiate with my father for some CAGR growth in the money allotted for crackers, citing reasons like inflation & predatory taxation, the neighbourhood kid, whose dad was a babu would bring a Tata-Ace full of crackers. It was a penis size competition, “Kitne ke pataakhe laaya iss baar” they would ask. Sigh.
And as a result of this neighbourhood arms race, the biggest victims were the dogs. Sometimes I think, if only dogs could talk, they would have been on every NDTV panel around Diwali. Dogs would make heartrending documentaries on their own plight, upload on Vimeo and win a few Oscars. But they can’t. No means to tell their sorry tail, I mean tale. I am assuming in a parallel world, dogs would be tying crackers to the vestigial tailbone of humans, and cackling with joy as the human ran around for his dear life. But we don’t know any of that.
What we do know, is that Crackers are a nuisance, but will banning them make the Delhi air breathable? I don’t know.
PS: On a different note, before I sign off, please suggest some crackers which men DON’T invoke to describe girls in India. Pataakha, Fuljhadi, Bomb, the list goes on.