The political and administrative acumen of the Indian delegation at G 20 has been put on trial by a group of retired judges of high courts by writing to the heads of delegations of G20 countries visiting Delhi to push for the repatriation of Indian children in protective custody in Western Europe, the UK, North America, Australia and New Zealand. The Indian team would have to take extra pain and efforts to make the foreign delegates to agree to this request.
Every year a significant number of children of the émigré families are removed from parental care by the child protection authorities of the country of residence on grounds of abuse, neglect or risk of harm. Such children are placed in custody of the foreign child protection authority.
It is not that the migration of the Indians to foreign countries is a new phenomenon. Of course, undeniably it has picked up. More Indians, around 32 lakh every year, are shifting to the foreign countries in search of a better future and job opportunities. The letter from the retired judges states that recent years have seen a large number of Indians moving to these countries as expatriates on work placements. Mostly, the families tend to be young, with little children, who are Indian passport-holders and intend to return after a few years.
The letter underscores that every year expat children are being removed from parental care by the child protection authorities of their country of residence “on grounds of abuse, neglect or risk of harm”, and being placed in the custody of foreign child protection authorities.
The moot question is why the governments of those countries take away the children from the custody of their parents. The letter furnishes the reason but it is not comprehensive. Parents belonging to this class are obsessed with their own self-promotion and projection. The new class of expatriates who primarily belong to the neo middle class are so concerned with their life style and social ascendency and empowerment that they often ignore the needs of the kids. They desire that their children must follow in their footsteps.
The bond shared between parents and children is something indescribable. It is true that no one in this whole world will love and care about the children more than their parents. But taking away the children from the care and control of their parents is happening. It is the reality and cannot be pushed beneath the carpet.
It is the yearning of the parents to be identified with the foreign culture and life style that they even refuse to abide by the traditional Indian societal norms and ethics which they claim to follow assiduously. For them, these are obsolete and irrelevant. Every child is innocent, creative and possesses potential. Parents need to understand their psychology and guide them in the right direction. During their growth and development phase, children need basic care and parental support. But unfortunately, this is not happening. The diaspora parents are so engrossed with their own commitments and life style, that they ignore the children and on the contrary, they aspire that the kid should follow in his footsteps.
The child bodies in those countries mostly act on the complaint of the children. It is the children who lodge complain against their parents, of course there are some exceptions. The children had to suffer the repression of the cross-breed culture. While the parents carry the baggage of Indian culture, but at the same time they want to completely identify and imitate the culture and social relations of the country where they reside. At home while the mother would like her kids to know a bit of Ramayan, Bhagwadgeeta and regularly recite Hamuman Chalisa, they at the same time like their children to integrate with the western culture.
Parents must understand the importance of different values in life and adhere to culturally accepted social norms and behaviours. The process of disciplining children should follow the principle of socialisation. Social adjustment and interaction with other children in a socially desirable manner is very essential to become well accepted in a group. Parents must teach basic manners to their children and listen to their voices. But this does not happen. The children feel ignored and uncared. They are to play with TV and mobile.
Unfortunately a large number of the parents do not have time to interact and consult their children before taking any decision about their life and welfare. For them it is waste of time. Expatriate parents from lower socio-economic back grounds are vulnerable to applying punishment.
The September 5 letter from the retired judges says, “We are writing to appeal to you to initiate discussions regarding a pressing issue of concern to expatriate Indians on short- to medium- term work stay in Western Europe, the United Kingdom, North America, Australia and New Zealand. We understand from news reports that this is an issue that affects other countries that send significant labour and work force to these countries and urge them to consider joining our appeal”.
Unfortunately the children develop the sense of alienation from their early formative years. They are deprived of motherly love and care. What nature of reaction and behaviour one can expect from these children. How one can hope that these kids would not react in an irrational manner. Some time back an Indian mother had committed suicide after her children were confiscated by Australian child protection services. Amongst some prominent cases reported in recent years are the ones of Mrs Chatterjee (later featured in the film Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway), Mrs Shah v Germany, Mrs Patil v Australia, Mrs Yusuf v England, and Mrs Annie Johansson v Sweden.
Indian immigrant parents faced many challenges as they have to balance their aspirations to inculcate Indian values into their children while also ensuring that their children fit into the culture of that country. Some of the deep concerns shared by Indian immigrant parents included: (a) fear of losing children to the culture of that country (b) loss of parental authority over children, (c) loss of authority to discipline children according to their native customs, (d) loss of authority to select children’s mate and, (e) loss of face within the East Indian community because of children’s out of culture behaviours.
Parenting adolescent children has been very challenging because the adolescent children were more vocal, had stronger opinions, and were more independent. Besides the life style of the parents play a major role in aggravating the situation. Such behaviour often challenged parental authority, which was a core part of native culture.
Some research papers also point to the fact that recent surge of Indians to foreign lands has badly split the diaspora community. They carry the baggage of Indian caste conflicts and hatreds. They are divided on caste and economic line. This has divided them to such an extent that they have very low level of interaction. For them political connection and affiliation have attained primacy than the social relations. This has led to further neglect of the children. These children lose their identity and are unable to develop any bonds with their country of origin or their extended families. The retired judges also emphasised that being cut off from the family and kin leads to isolation and loss of identity of Indian children placed with foster caretakers abroad which is why this issue demands a discussion at the G20 Summit. (IPA Service)