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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Diwali Cracker Ban - Judicial Overreach?

Team Being Cynical
Empathy' is the latest code word for liberal activism, for treating the Constitution as malleable clay to be kneaded and molded in whatever form justices want. It represents an expansive view of the judiciary in which courts create policy that couldn't pass the legislative branch or, if it did, would generate voter backlash. – Karl Rove.

The above statement models itself very well with the latest extravagance of our apex court. From nowhere, our highest judiciary body seems to have banned the sale of fire crackers in and around Delhi (NCR to be precise) till November first. This is not the first time that our supreme court has intentionally or un-intentionally stepped onto a domain they best should stay away from. They had done it before bringing much furor in the public discourse. Though most of their earlier extravagance could be argued on the grounds of logic, I am afraid, this latest one misses many key parameters of sensibility by quite some distance, and I will tell you how. Even the logic of pollution (or the counter of it?) that is being furnished as an excuse, not necessarily by the courts but by the liberal circle, looks hell lot hypocritical than factual. 

I am sorry your honour – this very judgment of yours is more like a subtle attack on one particular religion than countering the menace called pollution that is so synonym with our national capital. I can assure with some surety that pollution levels are going to remain as dangerous as it is today in Delhi, with or without crackers being burst on Diwali. And you know why there won't be any difference in the pollution level even after your historic judgment? It is because, pollution in Delhi has got nothing to do with the crackers you fire on an odd day. Whatever good intent (if at all there were any) there was in the decision, looks so much flabbergasting today,  because, your honour only decided to wake up very late in the day from his slumber. As is with any late comer to the party, your honour too decided to act overactive to make his presence felt, thereby giving receptivity a big miss. And how exactly sanity was given a miss – by ‘banning’ as a default solution; not by thinking through ways to reform rather. Where are your grey cells your honour? The last thing I was expecting from my apex court is some knee-jerk reaction even though there aren’t any actions to begin with.

Let’s see how fallacy is written all over this decision. First myth – that banning things improves the situation. It never does actually, if you would care to read the history of the world. Banning never has worked in the past, nor would it work this time. Coupled with it, the half-baked judgment, thereby banning only the sale of crackers, actually defeats the whole purpose from head-to-toe. It would be foolish to imagine/believe that there would be no crackers bursting this time in Delhi just because there is a sale ban. There could be a drop but that drop won’t be beyond 5% at the maximum. I won’t even be surprised if the amount actually increases this year. The overzealous and somewhat aggrieved ‘Delhites’ could decide to show who the real boss is when it comes to their backyards and light up more crackers in protest. After all there aren’t any ban on firing crackers. And we all know how procuring crackers just outside of the Delhi borders won’t be a big task at all. I am aware of at least couple of big clubs in Delhi who are planning to purchase huge amount of fire crackers from outside and donate it free to people on the street and slum area children. And I don’t see why they shouldn’t do it, more so when our judiciary takes no time in thrusting their judgment without thinking much about the sentiments of a common Delhite.

The said decision also opens up avenues for black market and miscreants of the state. I am quite sure that the black marketers would be rolling on the floor laughing after yesterday’s decision. One need not be a rocket scientist to realize how porous Delhi borders are with its adjacent states. Even hardcore criminals fly out after committing serious crimes without much fuss. In days to come, I am foreseeing huge amount of ‘black crackers’ (if I can coin the phrase) getting flushed into Delhi markets, to be sold at a higher price. And I am damn sure again, people would be lining before these black sellers to purchase even if it would hit their wallets little more than usual. What a monumental mess this decision is potentially equipped with to create. It would be unfair here if I don’t ask it again – where were your grey cells your honour? The state would be losing a huge amount of money by the banning while crooks and miscreants would be having a field day. What kind of decision it is which actually subverts the revenue of the state while giving advantage to nefarious elements? And what we would achieve after all this at the end of the day in the name of pollution and protecting our environment – absolutely nothing. The number of crackers aren’t going to go down but we are told, we still would achieve a pollution check. I am finding it tough to even describe the thought process as hilarious.

State losing money is just part of the fallout. What about the livelihood of poor people, something which I guess is very dear to our liberals and their ilk everywhere? Here, let’s not forget that the said order came without any warning. The court should have been judicious enough to warn beforehand and should have given time for people to realize what is on priority list. But unfortunately the banning came as the first reaction, precisely why I said; your honour woke up very late in the day. There are hundreds/thousands of people who hold official licenses to sell crackers. The mega festive season warrants them to book their stock very early, sometime even six months prior. These distributors and retailers invest in lakhs, at times even in crores, to book their orders beforehand so that there aren’t any last minute shocks for the business season. What would happen to their investments? What would happen to their livelihood? These are people who are legally allowed to do business and have invested their hard earned money but all seems to have rounded up to naught. I see the same sense of deja-vu as with the highway liquor sell ban of the honourable Supreme Court. No thought whatsoever was given on what those who solely depend on them for a living would do. Not that they are doing their business illegally. The affected entities and individuals are officially allowed by the state to carry out their business but that doesn’t make it to the notice of our courts.

Here the silence of the liberals must be noted. The same people were busy whining at all the places possible when UP government shut down illegal slaughterhouses. Concerns for the illegal meat traders were legendary back then. All were worried about the livelihood lost because of the move. Where are the mourners hiding today? Why I don’t hear a single liberal questioning the ban vis-à-vis the livelihood/jobs lost? Why this uncomfortable silence? ‘Tunde’s Kebab’ shutting down its door for two hours in want of meat was pictured as a national crisis but today I see no intellectual weeping inconsolably on TV screens for the people who seem to have lost their entire year’s earning in flat ten minutes. Illegal and unauthorized slaughterhouses of Lucknow were very dear to the liberal hearts but not the legitimate business owners of Delhi. Why this stoic silence for the cause of these cracker dealers/workers of Delhi? Or is it the as usual hypocrisy and double standard of our liberals at play again? Or am I missing something here?

Economics/jobs apart, there is another angle that we must not forget – sentiments. Diwali is a festival that is still very dear to Hindus. For good or bad, we simply can’t disassociate Diwali from fire crackers. This is how it is and it is since hundreds of years. Delhi is polluted for many reasons, primary being the vehicles that guzzle up gallons of bio fuel and fume around the city. The same liberals who carry three cars per household in average won’t bother on the damage they are doing to the environment. Neither would they bother the eight air-conditioners fitted in their homes, which even runs during winter. They won’t bother the water they waste in having Olympic size pools in their backyards. They would keep on polluting the environment 365 days relentlessly but would only wake up with their morality and preaching just before Diwali and Holi. This is the kind of nonsense that goes unobstructed.

No scientific study even could correlate the crackers in Diwali with respect to the pollution in the city. Delhi is polluted to the brim since ages and it is certainly not because of crackers in Diwali. It is the systematic mismanagement that has led to a situation where Delhi unfortunately finds itself now. Banning crackers and insulting Hindu sentiments may be a low hanging fruit to catch hold of but that certainly isn’t the solution. It is in fact far from being the solution. Liberals may wish to pull blinkers on their eyes and laugh silently on the prosecution of Hindu tradition but what Chetan Bhagat said makes perfect sense. I for one agree with him 100%. Banning is not the solution, reforms are. I can’t even imagine the outrage had there been a ban on goat slaughter during Bakrid. The fraudulent line that crackers are not as per the traditions since it has got no mention in our scriptures is as hypocritical as one can churn out. Hope the advocates are aware that goat slaughter in Bakrid isn’t as per the scriptures either.

Festivals go beyond what is written in the religious scriptures. It binds individuals and community alike. And for Diwali, crackers certainly play a vital role in this social cohesion. You might pounce on Chetan Bhagat for saying some unpleasant truth but one cannot take away the fact that, even courts would have refrained from passing such an order had Diwali been a non-Hindu festival. With due respect to our apex court, this is not just my speculation, it is what we have seen our courts doing for decades now. Time has come to draw a solid and unmistakable line that our judiciary must not cross. As I suggested the PMO and Narendra Modi yesterday, had there ever been a right time for an ordinance, it is today. Issue an ordinance to overrule this mindless judgment of our apex court. You can’t just take shelter of anything that is convenient and keep on sabotaging a particular religion. Being a majority religion shouldn’t be held as a crime, which, in India, vastly appears so today. Dear Narendra Modi, are you listening?

By the way, a little bit of trivia – the last time Delhi faced a similar cracker ban was when Aurangzeb introduced a blanket ban on fire crackers in Delhi, just that Hindus could be humiliated right on their faces. Has history turned a full circle finally?

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