Wednesday December 19, 2018
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Nangi: The gloomy picture of India’s third largest firework industry


By Arnab Mitra

Clicks by Ila Garg
Picture By: Ila Garg

Nangi is a small town, located a few miles outside Kolkata. It is well-known for its firework industry. This town in South 24 Parganas of West Bengal is the third largest firework industry in India after Shivkasi and Champahati.

However, the industry has now gradually entered into its sinking phase. Even the workers of Barkantala and Putekhali village in Nangi are living their life in a detrimental condition.

NewsGram talked with some of the workers including factory owners and this is what they have to say about the present condition of the industry.

Arnab Mitra: Out of ten factories only two are running now. What has caused the sudden downfall?

Bapi Mondal (Factory owner): It portrays a dark picture of the industrial situation in Bengal. From Jute industry to the Firework industry, the condition is same. We have to pay a hefty amount at the end of the month to everyone, from political leaders to ‘goons’. It is quite difficult to run the industry in such situation.

AM: So, why don’t you complain to the local administration or police?

BM: From administration to police, all are slaves of political parties. We had made several complaints in the past, but the condition remains the same with no scope of improvements.

AM: Apart from the ‘political’ problem, isn’t the increasing price of raw materials one of the basic problems in running the industry?

BM: Yes, it is. The price of raw materials is increasing with time, but we cannot increase the prices of the products due to the stiff competition from Chinese products.

AM: Did you try to get government’s support to save the industry and the life of workers?

BM: We made repeated attempts to tell about our condition to the government. We also met with the then chief minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya in 2010, but till now the government hasn’t taken any action to help us progress.

“It is hard to feed our families with a daily wage of Rs. 40 for 10 hours of work in the factory,” the workers said.

AM: For how long are you in this trade?

Workers: We are in this trade since ages. Our grandfathers, fathers and now we are working in this profession.

AM: How much are you paid for this work?

Workers: It depends on the factories where we work. But the daily wages vary from Rs. 30 to Rs. 40.

AM: With this meager earning how do you feed your family members?

Workers: It is obviously hard to survive with this earning. Sometimes, we take a single meal in afternoon and some time, at night. We are somehow managing to survive. Look at the condition of our children, they are the ones who suffer from malnutrition. We all will die if something isn’t done soon.

AM: There are so many government projects like MGNREGA, hundred days work, and BPL scheme of state government. Why don’t you apply for these?

Workers: We applied for hundred days work in 2014, but the project abruptly closed after two months. We also have BPL card, but there is a huge anomaly in the system and thus, we don’t get the ration at times. And if we are lucky and get a small quantity of ration, the quality of food is so poor that we can’t eat it.

AM: Do you wish to convey any message to the government?

Workers: We are dying. Please save us!

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Suicide Rates On The Rise Among U.S. Workers

Promoting social interaction rather than isolation in daily tasks on the job may help with suicide prevention.

Suicide, Life expectancy
A young volunteer helps set up lights in paper bags decorated with messages for loved ones during an Out of the Darkness Walk event organized by the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. VOA

From 2000 to 2016, the U.S. suicide rate among those aged 16 to 64 rose 34 percent, from 12.9 deaths for every 100,000 people in the population to 17.3 per 100,000, according to the study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The highest suicide rate among men was for workers in construction and mining jobs, with 43.6 deaths for every 100,000 workers in 2012 and 53.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2015, the analysis found.

The highest suicide rate among women was for workers in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media, with 11.7 fatalities for every 100,000 workers in 2012 and 15.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2015.

“Since most adults spend a great deal of their time at work, the workplace is an important and underutilized venue for suicide prevention,” said study co-author Deborah Stone, a behavioral scientist at the CDC in Atlanta.

Facebook, U.S., workers
A man works in the war room, where Facebook monitors election-related content, in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

While the study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how specific types of jobs or workplace characteristics might contribute to the risk of suicide, lack of control over employment and a lack of job security can both be stressors that make suicide more likely, Stone said by email.

Many factors outside the workplace can also influence the risk of suicide, including relationship problems, substance use, physical or mental health, finances or legal problems, Stone added.

And ready access to guns and other weapons have a big impact on whether suicidal thoughts turn into actions with fatal outcomes, Stone said.

Guns may explain the higher suicide rates among men than among women, said Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute in Boise, Idaho.

“In America, with ready access to guns, men make the choice of death by gun, but it is the less likely choice by females,” Namie, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “Hence, it is possible that in moments of despair that might pass if friends or family could intervene, with a gun handy, the decision is too quickly implemented.”

To assess suicide rates by occupation, the CDC examined data collected from 17 states in 2012 and 2015.

Data from 17 states

To assess suicide rates by occupation, the CDC examined data collected from 17 states in 2012 and 2015; the results are not representative of the nation as a whole. The results were published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Although arts, design, entertainment, sports and media had the highest suicide rates among women, this category saw the biggest increase in suicide rate among men during the study. For women, the biggest increase in suicide rates was in the food service industry.

One limitation of the study is that it didn’t examine suicide methods. It also excluded two groups of Americans that typically have stressors that can increase their risk of suicide: military veterans and unemployed people.

Even so, the results suggest that employers can play a role in suicide prevention by offering worksite wellness programs, encouraging use of behavioral and mental health services, and training workers in the warning signs of suicide and how to respond, Stone said.

Also Read: Suicides Can Be Prevented, Says Expert Through Government Policies

Promoting social interaction rather than isolation in daily tasks on the job may also help with suicide prevention, along with creating a workplace culture of inclusion that does not allow for abusive conduct or bullying, Namie said.

The road to suicide begins when one employee begins a “systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction against another employee,” Namie said. “Bullying is the most preventable predictor of suicide.” (VOA)