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Nangi: The gloomy picture of India’s third largest firework industry

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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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Thousands of protesters gather for Not My President Rallies to oppose the Donald Trump administration

The Not My President Rallies have demonstrators gathering across the country to support people of color, immigrants, Muslims, workers, LGBTQ people, and the poor.

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A man stands in front of Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., with a message against President Trump on Presidents' Day, Feb. 20, 2017. (Sama Dizayee/VOA Kurdish)

New York, Feb 21, 2017: Thousands of protesters rallied nationwide to oppose the Trump administration during Monday’s President’s Day holiday.

The Not My President Rallies have demonstrators gathering across the country to support people of color, immigrants, Muslims, workers, LGBTQ people, and the poor.

Events were underway from Boston to Seattle where protesters said they hoped to make it an anti-Trump day. A list of cities on the Not My President’s Day Facebook page showed at least 30 cities where protests inspired by the national movement of Bad Dudes and Nasty Women took place.

A man wearing a Donald Trump costume participates in a rally in New York, Feb. 20, 2017.
A man wearing a Donald Trump costume participates in a rally in New York, Feb. 20, 2017. VOA

Several hundred people gathered in Washington, shouting “Dump Trump.”

In Chicago, hundreds gathered near Trump Tower, holding signs in English, Arabic and Spanish calling for resistance to Trump’s immigration policy.

A woman marching in Los Angeles said she was marching for her parents who have worked hard “to provide for us.”

Protesters stand on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall, Feb. 20, 2017.
Protesters stand on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall, Feb. 20, 2017. VOA

Protesters stand on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall, Feb. 20, 2017.

Another demonstrator in Dallas, Texas, said people were angry.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on and it’s only been a month, and it’s kind of scary for a lot of people because a lot of people are actually being affected by what’s going on,” she said.

“I’m here to protest everything that 45 [45th U.S. president] stands for … From his views on women to his views on immigration, racism, sexism and all the awful things that he is representing is embarrassing our country,” another protester said.

In one month of presidency, Trump has signed 24 executive orders and memoranda including orders withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific trade deal, impose a federal hiring freeze, and temporarily ban travelers from seven Muslim nations.That order was blocked by federal judges.

Most students, school employees and government workers had Monday off work because of the federal holiday.

Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studies renewable energy solutions to climate change. He said scientists are trying to send a message to President Trump that America “runs on science.”

“Science is the backbone of our prosperity and progress,” Supran said.

Demonstrators, some dressed in while lab coats, held signs that read “Science Matters,” “Scientists Pursuing Truth, Saving the World” and “Make America Smart Again.”

The Rally to Stand Up for Science in Boston’s Copley Square was held outside the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting.

Saturday, Trump held a large rally in Florida with about 9,000 supporters gathered in an airport hangar in Melbourne.

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Melbourne, Florida, Feb. 18, 2017.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Melbourne, Florida, Feb. 18, 2017. VOA

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They loudly cheered Trump’s comments. While anti-Trump protests are continuously across the country, the president’s fiercest backers echoed his message.

“He is right on point, because, unfortunately, most of the news media distorts it and twists it [the news] to their benefit,” said Hamilton Campos, who attended Trump’s rally Saturday.“You know, they were hoping that Hillary [Clinton] was going to win and she did not.”(VOA)

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Water boiler Explosion in Tampaco Foils factory kills 20 in Dhaka

Seventeen bodies were sent to Tongi Hospital and three to the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital

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For representational purpose only

September 10, 2016: At least 20 persons were killed on Saturday when a water boiler blew up in a factory in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, police said. Many others were in critical condition due to the sudden explosion.

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The explosion led to a huge fire in the Tampaco Foils factory in Gazipur area around 6 a.m., bdnews24 reported, citing Senior Fire Station officer Mohd Rafiquzzaman.

He said 20 firefighting units battled the flames, which caused two floors of the five-storey building to partially collapse.

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Seventeen bodies were sent to Tongi Hospital and three to the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, the Daily Star reported. A total of 74 others were injured, many critically, police said. (IANS)

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Americans celebrate Labour Day weekend to honour US workers and their contributions to the country’s economy

Many union members now work for local, state and federal governments in white-collar jobs, not in the gritty factories where the labor movement began

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FILE - A Cincinnati Police officer stands beneath a Labor Day fireworks display as part of the city's Riverfest celebration on the Ohio River, Sept. 6, 2015. Image source: VOA

September 3, 2016: Americans are celebrating the Labor Day weekend, culminating in the Monday holiday honoring U.S. workers and their contributions to the country’s economy.

The holiday has also come to signal the unofficial end of summer in the United States. Most workers have the holiday off and often celebrate over the weekend with family picnics and vacations. In some communities, Labor Day is the last day before the school year starts for students.

Many people on the East Coast may see their holiday plans dampened by Hurricane Hermine, which crossed into Florida from the Gulf of Mexico on Friday and began moving into Georgia and the Carolinas.

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The storm has caused weather alerts and precautionary closures along much of the Atlantic Coast, including in New York City where Mayor Bill de Blasio said city beaches will be closed for swimming Sunday — and possibly through Tuesday — because of potentially dangerous riptides.

“The number one thing I want to say New Yorkers is: The riptides are extremely dangerous. This is my number one message,” he said.

Labor Day in the U.S., held the first Monday in September, became an official holiday in 1894 after a push by the nation’s labor unions. For decades, cities used the occasion to stage large parades honoring unionized factory workers.

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Labor unions have seen their membership fall steadily in the past 30 years with the growth of technology and the globalization of the world economy. However, workers’ benefits —which the unions fought for decades ago — are now customary in most U.S. workplaces, including five-day work weeks, health care insurance and vacations paid for by employers.

Many union members now work for local, state and federal governments in white-collar jobs, not in the gritty factories where the labor movement began. (VOA)