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'North Indian bias', 'cultural imperialism' alleged in Supreme Court order on firecrackers

'North Indian bias', 'cultural imperialism' alleged in Supreme Court order on firecrackers

A stipulated time window to celebrate a festival as big as Diwali in a country as diverse as India has become an unlikely bone of contention between North, South and East Indians.

The Supreme Court order on bursting of Diwali firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm has created an unintended discord among Indians. A stipulated time window to celebrate a festival as big as Deepawali in a country as diverse as India has become an unlikely bone of contention between North, South and East Indians.

Well for north Indians, the judgement works perfectly fine as Diwali crackers are lit up after the nightfall. However, in South India, where Diwali is celebrated during early morning, the apex court's order has evoked strong disapproval. SC's decision on bursting of crackers has also piqued those living in the east. In Assam, West Bengal and most of the eastern India, Diwali is generally celebrated a day before.

While the talks are already going on to seek a judicial review of the court order, many have expressed their displeasure with the verdict. Some have questioned the judgement, asking if this was a result of 'north Indian bias' and 'cultural imperialism'.

K Marriappan, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers' Association, says, "In Tamil Nadu, we celebrate Deepavali (Diwali) in early morning. This time it falls on November 6th morning whereas in North India, it is November 7th night."

He says, "Traditionally, there is lot of difference between Deepavali in Tamil Nadu and North India. In Tamil Nadu it is to celebrate the killing of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna where as Diwali in North India is celebrated to commemorate the return of Lord Rama." Similarly, he says, "In Kolkata, it is more about Kali Puja with a different timing and same is the case in Karnataka, where Dushera is important."

In the light of this, he feels, it would be difficult to implement one particular time for whole of India. He says, his association would look into the possibility of placing these facts before the court and seeking a review petition. They also plan to request the Tamil Nadu Government to consider filing a review petition as the state has a different time and context for the festival and thereby seek a review to enable the people in the state to celebrate the festival at the different time and day.

He, however, is happy that the uncertainty over the firecracker industry in the form of impending ban is lifted and this could be a sign of relief for the number of people directly and indirectly connected with this industry. In and around Sivakasi, the hub of firecrackers in Tamil Nadu, there are some 1070 units coupled with ancillary units impacting lakhs of people, with many employed on a contractual basis. These units alone produce firecrackers worth Rs 6,000 crore, which in the market is around Rs 10,000 crore. Though because of the uncertainty, since the matter was before the court and there were fears of a ban, there was reluctance from buyers and the industry was producing at 60 per cent its capacity.  

The apex court's order also drew flak for the usage of term 'green crackers' as people thought it was going to create confusion as there is no green cracker-manufacturing factory in India.

The order is unlikely to have any adverse impact on the firecracker makers because the industry seems to have made all the sales for the Diwali season already. The manufacturers, Mariappan says, have already sold the goods to buyers and the traders would be selling to the consumers and it is now for the consumers to comply with the directions of the Supreme Court and fire crackers between 8 pm and 10 pm.

Published on: Oct 25, 2018, 7:20 PM IST
Posted by: Karan Dhar, Oct 25, 2018, 7:20 PM IST