Sunday, October 18, 2009

Firecrackers are a good signal!

This post celebrates my understanding of Indian resilience in the face of all odds, and with all its paradoxes. Read it carefully, and completely to see what I mean.

Yes, yes, I know! They are said to be environmentally bad, some of the manufacturers employ child-labour, and they are oh-so-out-of-fashion now for some of our urban youth.

But firecrackers, especially those that reach for the sky are a very strong indicator of the economic mood of the people. After all, firecrackers that reach the sky are the costlier versions - and the people who buy them (and fire them) are likely to be those who have substantial disposable income in that period, and the willingness to spend it. I agree that a little element of "showing off" cannot be ruled out, but largely, people will not fire crackers (in the sky especially) just to show off! Someone who is dejected, or has lost out in business, or has no hope for the future, is likely not to celebrate by shooting costly fireworks up in the sky. Right?

To be honest, I have grown up celebrating Diwali with firecrackers, and like mad! Only recently have the spirits been tamed slightly :-)

Diwali night (17th October) was a big surprise for me. A big pleasant, positive surprise. Like every year, we spend the last part of the evening on top of our building (that's 5th and 6th floors). It offers a panoramic 360 degrees view of my city (Indore). Usually it feels as if the entire city has put up a beautiful fireworks show just for us! You can see firecrackers everywhere continuously, brightly lighting up the sky randomly, with all possible colours. It is quite an overwhelming feeling.

This year, going by the media reports, the widespread Dengue menace locally, and the general mood around, I thought the mood would be sombre, and downcast. So I was all the more eager to study it carefully.

How wrong I was! The animal spirits of the people of Indore (animal spirits = raw spirit of enterprise and achievement) was visible in ample measure. The firecrackers show was almost as good as last year, when it was anyway very strong! Watch a raw video here

Children in my family went crazy seeing all this :-)

My learnings from all this

  1. Festivals are meant to be celebrated with ample gaiety, and the Indian people surely know this well! They are an extremely resilient lot. They do not like to allow anything to come between them and their festive celebrations.
  2. We Indians know how to optimise:-) The main Diwali night is too precious to be lost out to stupid niceties of global trade realities. We may cut down on other days of the festive season, but main Diwali night? Baahh... forget it!
  3. There is nothing like commuity happiness and cumulative display of confidence when it comes to beating the blues. The inner emotional feeling I had while watching the splendid show put up by the citizens last night was unparalleled. I almost forgot things are not all well with global economy, all I felt was a sense of raw joy, pure elation and unbridled sense of optimism for the future!
  4. It will be a wonderful idea for the Indian governments never to forget that not integrating India totally with the global economy is actually a good idea - we are so big, so people-rich, so ideas-rich, that if clean leadership can be provided to us internally, we may have little to look outside our borders to fulfil our basic needs. The world will come to us - they need us badly.
  5. Firecrackers on main Diwali night are not a bad idea, if they reinforce a strong sense of community well-being. I felt this strongly last night.
Civilisations that have lasted several millennia have something truly spectacular about them, and inside them. In my opinion, the Indian civilisation's resilience in the face of all possible odds across generations is what keeps us ticking. From time to time, the outward manifestation of this resilience changes shape, but the root is still the same.

Long live the Indian resilience and spirit!

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Golden Leaves said...

Dear Sir,

1. Interesting to read article having thoughts from local to global level. (Indore, India and the World economy)

2. Quite appealing to note your extreme fascination on the term "The Animal Spirits of Entrepreneur", even interestingly used for people of Indore. (It will be a pleasure to have your in-depth view on this term, overwhelming if it could be a special session indeed)

3. Good to read such note on positive Indian resilience and spirit on festivals. The fact of having 73 out of 365 days as festivals always makes us proud to be an Indian.

All in all, can it be said that your article shows optimism about PROTON economy having a small cracker show (with celebrations) next Diwali for sure??

Manish Vaswani

Unknown said...

Dear Sir,
I found this blog very interesting.
Your appeal of not having fire crackers had a great impact on Protons. We will make the best use of this fire crackers after getting all Protons placed in some or the other company. Wishing you a Happy Diwali.
It's time for positive change

Proton Ankur Verma
Fall 08

Anonymous said...

Dear Sandeep Sir,

Today, on Diwali, I learnt your blog address. "The Economist" or not, I'd recommend everyone to read YOUR columns!

Despite being just magicians, we too are feeling the challenges and opportunities of global exposure because for the first time, they are right here, perched on our door-steps. Yet...we feel confident of our future. The reason - our immovable belief in strong basics. One might not be gifted with vision but a bit of common-sense dictates that following some evergreen principles(e.g. quality, honesty), long-term success will be assured. Fluctuations will check our commitments so that men can be separated from boys. Given that, Sir, your honest efforts need no recognition and reward. There is no need to hope too. It is, somehow, an automatic process which is fool-proof too. Like a beautiful painting amidst gray buildings and concrete, quality and hard-work shine as if they generate their own energy. One can't help but notice it.

2008 was tough. Not so much because of the recession but because everyone was busy trying to find that new equilibrium which follows every panic. Now I think we all are more settled. And ready with new courses of action and renewed determination. Things are already looking up. And we are very optimistic of the coming times.

Sir, you remain, as ever, an inspiration. Through your blog, I'll hear you time and again and recharge myself when the going is tough.

Thank God I know you!


Test said...

Dear Akash - I have known you since 1995 when you were a student of PT, and you amaze me everytime with your appreciation and love for the work we are doing. Your commitment to your profession is also commendable. I wish you all the best! Keep reading, keep sharing.

Ankur / Manish - thanks for reading and commenting. I hope you saw my point in totality.

Menal Lunawat said...

Respected Sir,
Happy Diwali Sir. The comment which you made that the slightly elite class enjoy firecrackers, which shows that they are happy,i dont think so.I think it was more of a status symbol before, but its good that things are changing now.
Now people have started understanding the ill-effects of firecrackers, and so have opted for celebrating Eco-friendly diwali.
The time is not far way when people on individual level will start working for the serious problem of global warming.

With Regards,
Menal Lunawat

Test said...

Menal, my entire broader analysis was from two perspectives derived
from indicative parameters viz.
1) economic resilience of our people
2) reactions of a city suffering from Dengue on a large scale

"Happiness" is a very broad term and I understand the perils of using that term loosely. I have avoided that.

Hope this helps!

harshna khasgiwala said...

Good morning Sir ,
Crackers hold a fascination for both young and old alike. Despite a growing anti-cracker campaign, there is no dip in its popularity. Recently I have read in DNA (newspaper) as millions of rupees worth crackers are brunt on the day of Diwali . And so as to make most of the festival demand, firecracker units in Jaipur have come up with smokeless firecrackers. These are been made by reducing the quantity of chemical content that emit smoke, also increased the quantity of the chemicals that emanate various colours and light and also they use herbs while manufacturing these crackers, so that smoke is less. Which makes their customers glad and if this concept is acceptable on a large scale it will help India go GREEN.

Unknown said...

Respected Sir,
I am also very fond of crackers. very indeed. every diwali we(friends in our society) celebrate diwali with great enthusiasm and spirit. our planning starts from making a list of crackers(each of us will bring) and all!! this year is no different. i am all well aware of pollution and all but we just find it hard to imagine diwali without crackers. its hard to accept change but we r changing slowly. we have reduced no. of crackers to a great extent this time. the spectacular diwali night does cheers us immensly. the feeling of unity, truimph, greatness(culture), business transactions(gujarath alone brought some 400kgs of gold) are all very magnificent. indians just need some reason to celebrate. and i am no different and diwali is the best reason. some dialogues from a marathi movie which i liked, i m sharing-
"jithe andhar aheya, kalokh aheya, titheya tuzhya divyatvane prakash ujalu de, hi prarthana karat asto amhi diwa lavtanna deva jawal. "

- may,there, where darkness(adnyan)is widespread shines(zagmaga uthe) with the divine power of your's(god). this is what we pray when we light a diya!!

Surendra said...

Sir ,
On Ddiwali night there was too much noise of fireworks out side of my room. I was thinking that all world is facing the problem of global warming, but the people are still enjoying with crackers. When will these people know how harmful is it?
But after reading your blog my thought changed. It gives me another prospective to see these things.
Thank you

Proton surendra pratap mourya
Fall 09 indore

Ashok said...

Dear Sir,
Great to see our feelings about Diwali in written.
It is always being a occasion to celebrate with family to enlighten our dreams and just to feel happy.

Proton Ashok Kumar
Fall' 08

Vidit Shah said...

Dear Sir,
Wish you happy Diwali and a prosperous new year.
I feel festivals play the role of joining people together. It allows people to take time out of their busy schedule and spend time with their family and friends. It also help people have a feeling of joy and happiness which he wants to celebrate with his/her near and dear ones. The ambiance at the time of festivals creates a feeling of excitement and enthusiasm which helps gain the lost energy spent on earning Money and Goodwill. We spend money to its fullest where ever necessary and try to enjoy to its fullest without having tensions of daily scheduled routine.
Festivals do play an important role in our lives to rejoice and have a change from daily schedule.
Vidit Shah

Chetan Choparia said...

Respected Sir,
Diwali have great importance in our culture and religion.Diwali is the festival of lights and joy, but also festival of hopes that the coming year will be full of surprises, hopes of doing something new that add prosperity and happiness also peace and health.Its all about optimism that everything will go right from now.

No matter how much a person earns, whether rich or poor,each one of them want to celebrate Diwali by their own way.Firecrackers are the best thing to express their happiness.Also they are integral part of Diwali Poojan and tradition,and we Indians not take any thing under consideration when it comes to culture and tradition, I think this must also reason that why people have not taken care of recession or Dengue or it may be anything else.
It is not only for Diwali it may be for any festival also which have great importance to us.

Thank You,
Proton Chetan Choparia
Fall 09

Gaurav Taranekar said...

Dear Sir,
It's nice to see the show of fireworks on the video that you have posted with this blog that shows the high spirits of Indorians for the festive season.
As being an festival lover(specially Diwali) I like to enjoy the fireworks from a distance rather burning them.
For this I remember a stage show of Raju Shrivastav on star one
"kharche apne charche unke"
regarding an incident of an unburnt cracker(rassi bomb)and family dealing with it.[:d]

Gaurav Taranekar

Test said...

Gaurav, Chetan, Vidit, Ashok, Surendra, Rhishikesh, Harshna - thanks for reading and commenting!

Dinup Mathew said...

"But firecrackers, especially those that reach for the sky are a very strong indicator of the economic mood of the people"

Very interesting perspective. If I may be allowed to add, there must be a caveat with to this viewpoint i.e. these firecrackers are fired only by those who have sufficient disposable incomes. Wealth distribution is still skewed in India and therefore, only a minority of people are bursting these crackers. In simpler terms, 20% of the 'people' are bursting 80% of these firecrackers. It may not be politically correct to therefore generalize that the economic mood of the 'people' can be linked to these firecrackers.

Test said...

Correct Dinup.

And these 20% may be the employers of the system. Their good mood maybe all we need :-)

Unknown said...

Sandeep, always interesting to hear your views on things which I, being from Indore, can directly relate to.

All year round, we do million things that damage environment and cause loss of quality of life. Then suddenly on Diwali day we become environmentalist and take moral grand stands on fire crackers. In my opinion, killing a tradition is just killing the tradition and not helping environment.

Instead of claiming ourselves to be env friendly for one day by not lighting crackers we can do so many things throughout the year. Be it controlling air-con, carpooling, be more watchful of the waste that we dispose, saying no to plastic etc. I'd rather do those.

Fireworks are a symbol of celebration globally (close your eyes and see images of Jul 4 celebration in the US, welcoming the new year around Sydney Harbor Bridge, or the unveiling of the Bird's Nest in Beijing). These are magical moments and yes while all these are a little harmful to the environment, I am sure we can consider this as a little debauchery around the biggest festival :))

We can do far better things for the environment all around the year so that we can celebrate this day without guilt. I am lighting crackers every Diwali and I am changing my daily life style.

Test said...

Ahhh... finally the defence rests its case! Thanks Akshay :-))

Dinup Mathew said...

ha ha..... this hope would work much like the oft-mentioned 'trickle down' theory. for everyone's good, let us hope it works. :-)

Unknown said...

It is a pleasure to read your blogs and the emotions with which they are written.
To write blogs one needs to be aware of the surroundings and writing on consistent basis needs time and experience.

Regarding this Diwali article I would like to say it’s just the economic growth that is saving the Indian economy but I think the aftershocks are yet to come and we should be prepared for it.
I am an engineering student and I would like to draw your attention towards the placement in our college in which the students of the previous batch are yet to get the joining dates.
The number of companies arriving has reduced to about 40 to 50 percent as compared to last year, also the number of companies arriving in IIT‘s have decreased considerably. It’s just that the raw talent is finding to get groomed in an industrial environment. There are ample opportunities for experience people.

The force that drives the Indian’s animal spirit attitude is their passion towards living the life and love for cricket. It is unusual to see and hear firecrackers when “MEN IN BLUE” (mostly loosing) wins.
Gathering in large numbers to watch cricket matches when the world is facing the heat of recession. It’s also an indicator of our well-being”IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA”.

Hope to see your blogs on recent Mr. Sibals remarks.
Wishing Happy Diwali to you and your family.

Mohit Wadhwani
PT student (Regular Batch)

Test said...

Dear Mohit - thanks for reading and commenting!