Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fire and Fireworks

9 May 2012, Hyderabad, India

I traveled from Kolkata to Hyderabad by a Spice Jet flight. The journey was uneventful as I kept working on a project for Seva Kendra, Kolkata. From Hyderabad airport I took a prepaid cab to Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University where I am put up for the next two days. On may way, I kept peeping out to see something new. And I found this one. After we crossed Jubilee Hills and as we turned towards Kakatpally I saw a Standard Fireworks shop selling fire crackers. The shop had been separated from other shops with some space on its right and left, and the shop also had iron grills in front so that no one can enter in. This is to prevent (a) In case of a fire outside, it may not enter the shop quickly; (b) If there is a fire in the shop, the impact may be less on others; (c) Minimize the possibility of any antisocial or careless customer setting fire on any of them; and (d) in case of a fire when customers are doing any purchases, the customers will be able to escape, and won't be found to be inside the shop, exposing themselves.

Now compare this to the way fire crackers are sold in Kolkata, West Bengal. You will notice women, children and some men going around selling them just holding them in their hands in the crowded market in Burra Bazar, in Strand Road and in M.G. Road. You can see every shop selling their wares (combustible fire crackers) just on the road side. This is selling disasters on discounted price.

Governments, people, civil societies and shop keepers....everyone need to unite to work towards a "culture of prevention". Such cultures are not built in a day. They are cultivated through years of hard pursuit of policies, strict implementation of laws, and commitment of citizens to follow it through for their own safety. Let there not be just a culture of preparedness, but also a culture of prevention.

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