Sivakasi, the tinderbox town
Sivakasi was born in the 15th century, during the reign of the Pandya king, Harikesari Parakkirama Pandian.
But we cannot blame Pandian for our 21st century problems, of course—much as we would like to find a punching bag. It is a tinderbox town, with an explosive industry that survives because of its economic lure. And nobody in the social media is blaming anyone else much either.
Recently, a resident tweeted: “In addition to diwali, due to jaya’s bail the firework labours in sivakasi will earn more… Thank god for… http://fb.me/6M7ILlgSl”
The message is clear—Sivakasi is an economic bonanza!
That is a typical social attitude with not too much worry about the issues that underlie it—overexploitation and child labour. While there is a social media Diwali epidemic, there is not enough thought on the annual hotspot of India during the festival—the explosive factory.
Browsing one website about special news related to Sivakasi would help you to understand the typical, small-town mood here: Heavy rains, power shutdowns, crazy sales of fireworks manufactured here, the Chennai eye and some tragic deaths and injuries in a firecrackers factory a few months ago….the sad news is there, but not as horrifying as it should be.
That is because this town in Virudhunagar District in Tamil Nadu is known for its money-making industry—firecrackers and match factories that make 70% of the country’s produce. While the printing industries produce 30% of the total diaries here, the number of people here employ over 25,000. The estimated turnover of the firecracker, match-making and printing industries alone in the town is around 20 billion (US$320 million).
Enough is just not done to help it emerge from its tragic, hazardous conditions. As eminent management expert, Shreekant Sambrani, put it in Frontline: “Of the many blemishes on our record, none is worse than the ill-treatment of children… Continued child employment in such inhuman and dangerous conditions is decidedly shameful.”
How do we address the problems then? Some of the following tweets help to put things in a clearer light, but what can we do to solve the problems here?
“Instead of banning chinese phatakas ban child labour in Sivakasi”
” Please go to Sivakasi. One big village survives because of this. Dont kill an industry”
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