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…)


How My Dog Obsessed Family Got A Cat

Kitty at one month. © Rita Banerji

The rule is, you are either a dog family or a cat family. We are a dog family.  When I was growing up, there never was a time when there wasn’t at least one dog in our family.  And we had all other kinds of pets too: rabbits, fish, birds that fell out of their nests and their mamas wouldn’t have them back, and also a deer.  But we never had a cat — until recently!!!

When Kitty (seen in the picture here) landed on our doorstep she was probably about 3-4 weeks old. No bigger than a scraggly little squirrel. She went from floor to floor crying at the door of every apartment in our building, rolling pitifully on the feet of people she encountered. Some quickly shut their doors, while others offered helpful suggestions on what was to be done with her. She was obviously part of some feral cat’s litter, and while there are many feral cats that loiter around our complex and are shooed away if they enter the building, this one was a kitten and refused to go away. Someone suggested, that the cleaning man could “get rid” of her if we paid him a small amount – sort of a ‘Terminator’ plan. Someone else said, “Put her in a plastic bag, tie the mouth and go dump it in a far away public park, so she won’t come back.” I listened to these suggestions with distress. (more…)

Was India Born Just To Give The World Yoga?

In a recent newspaper interview with renowned Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman, about the restitution of Nalanda, the 5th century Buddhist University in India, the journalist comments:  “But Buddhism has practically vanished from India and emerging India may have little interest in the values you talk about.”

Thurman responds to that with:

[So] What is emerging India going to contribute to the world?  Just compete with China to make more cheap goods and take away more jobs from industrialized and unionized countries, and pollute themselves?

He had my attention there for a split second.  And then he spoilt it.  He responded in a way, that I’ve heard so many westerners respond to India, sort of in a patronizing way.  The way you talk to rowdy children, when you want to encourage them to stop doing what they are doing, and do the right thing.  (more…)

How Do We Fix The Hole in India’s Soul?

  For sometime now, as I work with my campaign The 50 Million Missing, to bring attention to India’s ongoing femicide, I’ve been wondering about this big HOLE in India’s SOUL.

Shame is always an indication of a human conscience that’s alive and working.  It is the most critical component of human decency.

But I can’t think of a single instance when the people of this great, big nation, have ever felt any kind of a deep remorse, regret, or shame, about any of the horrible human rights violations that happen here.  Not the massacre of Sikhs in Delhi after Indira Gandhi’s assassination; not the systematic annihilation of girls and women in the millions; not the disgraceful feudal economy that powers India’s dream of global Super-powerdom; and not the targeted massacre of hundreds of Muslims in Gujrat facilitated by the state government and Chief Minister Modi.    During that ghastly week in 2002 that Gujrat went into a state of anarchy – telephone directories were used to locate Muslim homes and businesses, to burn, loot, rape and kill.  No one was ever brought to task in the court of law.

Yet, most Indians think that Modi is a good guy because he brought economic prosperity to Gujrat.  This includes a large section of Indian society – the illiterate, the literate, the professionals, and even the intellectuals, like best-selling Indian author Chetan Bhagat, who in his article yesterday  “The Good and Bad of Gujarat”  says: (more…)

Celine Dion’s Face-off with China’s Dream

Last night, on the T.V., I was amused to see Canadian singer, Celine Dion facing what appeared to be a party of Chinese big-wigs: politicians and businessmen.

One of politicians commented on the fact that her songs were all about aspirations, dreams and the power of love.  So he suggested that she speak a bit on China in relationship to the world, and how the country figures in context of aspirations and power.  The message couldn’t be any clearer!  “The whole world knows that China is the world’s upcoming super-power!” is what I expected Celine’s lovely soprano voice to announce.  Instead she looked like she had unexpectedly encountered a mugger in a dark, and lonely alley.  She kept repeating that she didn’t understand what they wanted her to say.  I thought – Clever ploy Ms. Dion, but how much time are you going to buy with this?

Then in a desperate voice she repeated over and over (more…)

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