Millions of revelers in India defy fireworks ban, create toxic smog

Rather than listen to the advice of their government's officials and scientists, a good portion of a country did what they wanted, and justified it with religion and don't-tell-me-what-I-can't-do-ism. The fall out was that their health suffered, and so did the health of others, even the ones who did all the right things. Sound familiar?

Northern Indian Hindus celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, many defying the ban on the sale and use of fireworks traditionally used to do so. The city of New Delhi already suffers from poor air quality at a rate 9 times worse than what the World Health Organization deems safe.

From Reuters:

Revelers in the capital let off huge amounts of fireworks well into Sunday morning, prompting angry residents and environmentalists to complain on social media of breathing difficulties and stinging eyes.

"Our gods must be so happy today, that their followers burst firecrackers and choked the young ones to despair and death," said Vimlendu Jha, the founder of non-profit environmental group Swechha.

Cities in the states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar and New Delhi – which have already been suffering from some of the worst air in the world – saw even higher levels of pollution than on the morning after Diwali last year, government data analyzed by Reuters showed.

Others actually trumpeted praise for the millions of celebrants who stuck to religious tradition and ignored the threat of heightened respiratory illness through this time of year, made even worse by the toxic smoke.

"Are you realizing how all of India, all places stood up in defiance against the cracker ban? It's like a form of Hindu- freedom battle cry," Tarun Vijay, a leader of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, tweeted.

The parallels between what has been happening in the U.S., and how so many in India choose to disregard their fellow person because they want to do what they have always done, is absolutely stunning. You have a health concern? I don't care. Here's me maskless/with a roman candle.