Why Amy Chua is India’s Iconic Parent

That photo is probably the Indian (or Asian) concept of parenting! And it  is time for us to majorly rethink it!!

In less than a year, there is yet another diplomatic battle brewing between India and Norway on yet another child abuse case.  What India calls “culture appropriate” parenting, is regarded as abuse and violation of a child’s human rights in Norway and in most other western countries.

In the last case, Norway submitted to the bullying by the Indian government, egged on by the Indian public, and allowed the children back to India.  This time they are not taking any chances. The two parents in question have been jailed in Norway!  Norway didn’t quite like the burn marks on the 7-year-old boy’s legs, and probably didn’t buy the parents explanations that he had bumped his legs against a cooking stove.  They also didn’t like their threatening to do other things like burn his tongue and send him back alone to India. The family of the jailed couple thinks otherwise.  They say, “How can the court pronounce its judgment based on the complaint of a seven-year-old boy without even taking into account our arguments based on Indian culture and values?”

They are not alone. It is how India views parenting.  A child is the property of a parent.  Is it for anyone to say, what a person is to do with their property? 


You can beat, burn, sell, destroy your property – and I’m talking about children here, (more…)

When Trees Could Walk Like People

How do we introduce our children to the world – the larger world outside the home and family?  How do we explain to them what this world is and what their connection to it is?  Probably it is through the stories we tell them via books and movies.   I haven’t seen or read any Harry Potters yet, but I’m guessing by their popularity, that they are defining the world for millions of kids.  And sometimes I wonder in what way?

When I was a child, one of my favorite authors was Ruskin Bond.  I would devour his books.   He lived in Dehradun, a small town in northern India, in the Himalayan foothills.  There are many writers who live in rural surroundings and their writings bring forth their love of nature.  But I think that Ruskin Bond’s writings struck a chord in me as a child, in that it revealed to me a joyous, nurturing—and very importantly—a personal connection that I as a child could seek and find with the larger natural world around me.

Recently, I re-read many of his books, a sort of nostalgic reading trip down a childhood memory lane.  And what I realized was that what Ruskin Bond did for me as a child with his writings was what his father did for him when he was a child!!  He had simply passed on to me the myths, stories and visions of the world that he had inherited from his father.  I think as loved as Harry Potter is, Ruskin Bond should probably be made compulsory reading for all school children in India!  I’m happy to say, he still lives and writes about the natural world he loves and invites his readers to share in it!

Here’s one of my favorite passages, an excerpt from his short story ‘My Father’s Trees in Dehra,’ [From the collection of stories, Dust on The Mountains]

 Most of fruit trees around the house were planted by Father. But he was not content with planting trees in the garden. On rainy days we would walk beyond the riverbed, armed with cuttings and sampling, and then we would amble through the jungle planting flowering shrubs between the sal and shisham trees. “But no one ever comes here,” I protested the first time. “Who is going to see them?” (more…)

Happy Mother’s Day To Elton John

I know I’m going to be the party-pooper at this grande-monde celebration of madre-hood today in India.

But the thing is that I don’t really buy the idea of a ‘mother’s day’ or for that matter a ‘father’s day.’ Let me explain.

This lady, who is my mother’s age, recently said to me, “You know that Elton John singer. He’s gay and he married a man! And now they have a baby. That’s impossible.” I asked why. And she said, “How are they going to raise a baby without a mother? A baby needs a mother.” I told her she reminded me of some of my students, when I taught biology. For the laboratory exams when asked to identify the sex of fetal pigs, the boys would invariably write, “Female, because it has nipples.” Read the full article on Pickled Politics

Why is the Pope Not Arrested?

Last night I watched a panel of journalists on BBC’s Dateline London discuss the Pope’s direct role in the cover up and protection of paedophiles in the Catholic order.  I realized with a bit of a shock, that the discussion was not about whether the Pope was responsible or not; with all kinds of evidence pouring out from all corners of the world, and a BBC documentary, the Pope’s explicit role in all this was irrefutable.  What the BBC panelists were discussing – was what could now be done with the Pope.

Suddenly one of the panelists said something like, “Well you cannot possibly arrest the Pope!”

And I immediately thought, why not?

If this was any other large, multinational organization with evidence of harboring an international ring of paedophiles, would not the topmost authorities be immediately liable to investigation and police action? If the CEO of that organization had this kind of direct evidential pile-up against him of actually leading the cover-up would he not be put under arrest?

So what excuses the Pope is what I would like to know?

People come up with the weirdest retorts.  Some say, the Catholic church has also done much good for the poor around the world.

Well, so what if it has?

I don’t see what the logical connection here is!  Are these people trying to say, well since the church has done so much good they are allowed this ‘folly,’ if at all we could call it that?

And if these are the worms coming out of the cans in wealthy, western nations where the laws that deal with paedophilia are infinitely better defined and implemented than in the third world nations, can you imagine what might be going on in Asia, Africa and South America – where the Catholic Church has the largest recruits?

Recently reports have been emerging from N-E India, where missionaries are most active in India, of massive child sexual trafficking.

It makes this kind of a pathetic, and deferential treatment of the Pope that much more dangerous.  The EU has a high-handed attitude about secularism and human rights. But if it does not move forcefully now to investigate the Vatican and the Pope’s role in this ugly pedophilic saga, and act according to the existent EU laws, then it will be complicit in perpetuating the grossest international violation of children and human rights.

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