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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

chhota bheem crackers .... don't buy illegally imported Chinese crackers

The other day, I bought a toy car named ‘chhota bheem’.  The popular Chhota Bheem' is an Indian animated comedy-adventure series, first premiered in 2008 on Pogo TV.  It focuses on adventures of a boy named Bheem & his friends in fictional city-state of Dholakpur. In this series Bheem & his friends are usually involved in protecting king Indravarma of Dholakpur to save the city-state from various evil forces. Sometimes they are seen helping other Kingdoms as well. The Series was created by Rajiv Chilaka, CEO of Green Gold Animation.  More than 150 episodes have been aired in the series which is quite a hit among children. 

Deepavali is getting nearer -  the festivity could be felt in the air even before a fortnight, when one walks either in T Nagar area, where every shop be it selling Gold, silver or clothes – are overcrowded – the entire area would be flowing with people jostling to buy more and more.  If you are in the Parrys Corner or Flower Bazaar area to be precise, a couple of years ago,  you can gauge the mood of people buying crackers.   Fire crackers – the small explosives designed to produce noise and the eye-capturing fireworks – both on the ground and on the air have captivated people.   Every year you get to hear newer names – and some innovative crackers.

One  gets a feeling that there have been attempts to somehow dampen the spirits of Deepavali – as every year, we hear of more and more restrictions from various Governmental authorities.  Earlier, some hue and cry was raised about child labour in the fireworks manufacturing – if the concern was real, why the same was not raised in candle and other things – where also child labour is involved.  Then, some start talking about the pollution control.  Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has issued guidelines to ensure that high-decibel firecrackers do not cause trouble to the public.  Then there is the Supreme Court guidelines,  which bans  bursting crackers between 10pm and 6am ~ and as they say for everything else, the prices are going  up – this year too, reportedly the prices of crackers have increased by 10%.  According to some reports, new varieties of crackers cost between Rs. 200 & Rs. 700/-.

Sivakasi, in Virudhunagar District of Tamilnadu is the undisputed capital of India’s firecracker industry with about 8,000 factories, big and small, producing 90 percent of the total fireworks output.  Hailed as ‘kutti Japan’ – this place is also known for litho printing press and calendars.   In May 2014, had posted on the Madurai Bench of Madras high court chiding top central agencies, including the Customs department, for failing to prevent illegal import of Chinese firecrackers into the country .

Now a report in The Hindu, reports how the sentiments are exploited. It is nothing new that Hindu tradition and sentiments are used for marketing and other purposes.  It is stated that the faed ‘Chota Bheem’ has now become a brand for crackers made in China. Packed in covers with ‘Chota Bheem’ logo and ‘Made in China’ reference, questions are being raised over the sale and safety of these “highly hazardous” fireworks.

A circular issued by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry states that fireworks of foreign origin are illegally brought into India under false declarations. These smuggled items contain chemicals such as Potassium Chlorate, which is a dangerous and hazardous chemical that can ignite or explode spontaneously. “The manufacture, possession, use and sale of any explosive containing sulphur or sulphurate in admixture with any chlorate is banned in India. It is illegal and punishable under the law,” the circular says. It also mentions that sale or possession of such fireworks may be reported to the nearest police station.

The President, Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers’ Association (TANFAMA), is quoted as telling  The Hindu that Indian crackers are non-friction-sensitive, whereas Chinese crackers are friction-sensitive. If a child handles a Chinese cracker wrongly, it will explode on his face due to the presence of potassium chlorate. In Sivakasi, we use only safe chemicals,” he explains. Another says that there will be high-decibel noise from Chinese products but safety is doubtful.  

One should not be guided by tall claims or cheaper price – take pledge not to buy illegally imported goods.  Buy only Indian crackers.  Celebrate Deepavali in style – with lots of crackers, sweets and new clothers.  Visit your relatives, pay obeisance to elders and do some good for the Society, donate for some good-minded service oriented NGOs. Donate liberally to orphanages.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

14th Oct 2014.

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