Diwali, the festival of lights (and sound) is just around the corner, but kids in Delhi are not being allowed to celebrate the occasion with crackers, on the spurious reasoning that this will “damage the environment.”
Oh, how many excuses these killjoys use to kill any fun that life may have in store for us miserable Indians. Our motto must be to suffer real private deprivation for some imaginary “collective good” or the other.
Frankly, I do not think the total amount of smoke released on Diwali night if firecrackers are allowed free rein will exceed that released by a single active volcano in one day. The earth is a huge planet and the atmosphere is even bigger. If Obama can bomb the moon, surely we can blow crackers once a year?
During my years in southern Goa, one thing that never ceased to amaze me was the fact that not a single night would pass without a whole lot of crackers going off. I made some polite inquiries as to what my neighbours were celebrating every night and was told that the occasions vary. In one house, crackers would go off to herald the birth of a child. In another house, to celebrate the start of a new business. In a third, the purchase of a new car. In a fourth… It could be anything. But crackers are a must. Every night. Without fail. I loved it. Chitty chitty bang bang night after night.
Of course, this fascination for crackers was reflected in the nearest market. In Chaudi, my nearest town, there was a shop selling crackers throughout the year. In Delhi you never get crackers except during Diwali. But in Goa, they sell every day. What does Delhi gain by banning crackers even for the one great celebration all Indians enjoy? We must look not only at the loss of fun, but also at the loss of business, and its implications.
Say’s Law tells us that “the sale of X gives rise to the demand for all non-X.” So, if I get to sell my bhel-puri, I am possessed of the means to buy whatever else the market has to offer, except bhel-puri, which I will not demand. I might buy clothes, music, books, tandoori chicken, cold beer – whatever. All these businesses that do not compete with bhel-puri have an interest in seeing that I am allowed to sell bhel-puri. If I am debarred, the energy in the entire catallaxy is reduced.
Applying Say’s Law to the ban on crackers in Delhi, we see that this policy does not hurt just the firecracker business alone; it hurts all other businesses as well. For, who knows, maybe a few SUVs would have been purchased in Sivakasi if Liberty reigned. With liberty, just as the sweetmeat-wallahs get rich on Diwali, so too would the cracker sellers. Then, just as the sweetmeat-wallahs would splurge on other offerings on the market, so too would the cracker-wallahs.
The Lesson: Restrictions and bans hurt not the directly affected industry alone; they hurt the entire market order.
I am therefore of the opinion that we the suffering masses of Delhi should celebrate any and every occasion that comes our way to the hilt, without any holding back. And it is our duty and obligation to our children to ensure that they enjoy whatever small joys life may afford. Diwali is an annual event. And a big one. Let us enjoy it. The killjoys who profess to care for clean air should be put in their place. They are causing all-round losses to the civic community.