This refers to the report “Norwegian authorities list Bhattacharyas' shortcomings” (Jan. 25). I wish to express my sympathies to the Indian parents who were separated from their children, because the Norwegian child welfare authorities were ignorant of the Indian ways of parenting. (The two children are to be handed over to their uncle.)
Indian parenting is arguably more conducive to emotional bonding between parent and child. It is arrogant of the Norwegian authorities to dub parenting that differs from theirs as “cruelty.” Reasons such as the “house not having sufficient room to play, and toys were not age-suitable for the children, the son not having his own bed, or linen or suitable clothes for his size” are ridiculous.
It is sad that the Bhattacharya children were sent to foster homes for reasons that would not shock us, Indians, as greatly as they did the Norwegian authorities. Basic cultural differences are responsible for the variance of opinion. Here, we prefer children sleeping with parents whereas in the West, children are given separate bedrooms. While changing the infant's diapers, beds are considered suitable whereas a diaper table risks being too narrow and high. While breast-feeding, Indian women sit on the floor with their children on their laps, unlike western mothers who sit on a chair.The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Our children are more attached to their parents, notwithstanding the “child welfare system” in the western countries.
I remember my mother feeding me and my siblings with her hands, as we sat around her amid much genial chatter. We would then go out and play, contented. Such familial togetherness builds solid bonds. At the same time, in India, children get beaten in schools, seven-year-olds are employed as assistants by roadside mechanics and hotels. Indians living abroad should adhere to local laws and practices to avoid such issues.
It is surely inhuman to separate children from their mother. I am sure the Norwegians understand this. It would be relevant to reflect on the actuality of the situation, though: why are we hearing of such an incident for the first time though there are many Indian-origin families in various countries across the continents? Certainly the authorities could not have singled out the family for malicious reasons.
If we were to follow the Norwegian child welfare laws, more than half of our children would be in foster homes!