This Diwali..think a little

I am writing this post to share with you a very personal story that always springs back to our (me and my brother Vivek’s, we both co-founded Jaagruti) memories every Diwali or rather in the days nearing it, as we start hearing the noise of bursting firecrackers around us, like in the time that I am penning this down.

The year was 1997, I was in Class 11, studying Sciences at D.A.V Public School, Pushpanjali Enclave, Delhi. I was 15 years old at that time, and every Diwali, my mother would pay an uncle of mine (who had his shop in Sadar Bazaar area of New Delhi) to get a box, or often boxes full of an assortment of firecrackers for us, which we enjoyed ourselves with.

But, that year, there was something unusual and uncharacteristic that our school did pre-Diwali, something I had not seen or learnt about in my 7 years of being in that school.

Our school participated in an ‘Anti-Fire Cracker’ campaign. At first I thought, that this campaign was the school’s way of teaching us not to burn fire crackers as burning them lets to our air being polluted and us contracting a host of respiratory diseases. But I was mistaken.

Under this campaign, we were distributed these little red stickers which had the following text written in Hindi.

“Pataakhe nahi jalaayenge, baal mazdoori hataayenge”

(which in English when translated would mean “We will not burn fire crackers and help get rid of child labour”).

Child Labour and Fire Crackers?? I was confused. What was this being talked about…I listened with intent and that was when I first understood that children as old or many years younger to me are employed by Fire Cracker factories across India to make fire crackers, the fire crackers that I had joyfully burnt in all Diwali festivals prior to that year.

While, we the fortunate ones, used our soft and nimble hands and fingers to write, paint and play, in many a villages in India, children like me were labouring to churn out fireworks working for more than 10-15 hours a day, contracting unknown health ailments in the process of making these tiring efforts to feed themselves and their families.

Kids like her make fire crackers to light up your Diwali. That we burn crackers made by the nimble hands and fingers of young children – is not something that you should feel happy or celebrate about. This is an assorted collection of images taken from various news websites to convey the start and dim reality of firecracker production across to you all (Image Copyright:

A guilt overtook my conscience that day.

We pledged not to burn fire crackers any more, that Diwali onwards.

The pledge of ours was further strengthened when my fellow classmates enacted a play themed on this subject of ‘Child labour and Fire Crackers’ at the first ever Delhi School Eco-Mela (Eco-fair), held in the lawns of Delhi Public School, Mathura road.

Friends joined in and we convinced our family to not force us to burn fire crackers either.

It has been 18 years since those days and we have been able to stick to the promise we made to ourselves and the pledge we undertook and not burnt a fire cracker ever since.

In 1997, there was no internet we had access to, and neither were there these host of news channels, but today there are many and despite ‘legislations banning the use of children for labour’, many a million kids continue to be exploited and forced to work in and for such fire cracker units even today.

Spare a minute to read one such detailed news article, a 2014 dated news story and watch through the news clips below and think a little before you pick up the next fire cracker to burn this Diwali.

Now choose your next step..



(Last revised on 7th November 2015)

5 Comments on “This Diwali..think a little

  1. Vasudha, Thanks for ur write-up. It would be better, if you could provide the same in Hindi so that we could carry out in our Hindi daily newspaper. See what best can be done.


  2. Vasudha, it’s a very noble thinking no doubt but can you tell me if those kids stop to do any work, whatever it is, then who will take the responsibility to feed them?
    Dont you think that we need to think about this first because food is the basic need of a person to alive. If we eagerly want to make them educated then we should try to fulfil their basic need first. Do you think that it is possible in India?


    • Feeding these kids is the responsibility of those who have given birth to them, sending them to work in harmful industries doesn’t cut the cake. Also, primary school education in India is free and supplemented with a mid day meal precisely so that kids go to school, educate themselves and have a meal also in the process, so there is no real excuse for parents not to send their kids to factories like these rather than schools. Also, we suggest you watch this video again


  3. that’s very true condition of child labour in India that u highlighted, i will show this to my children so they can understand what is child labour & insist them no for firecrackers


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