Italy shoots, Norway abducts, India bleeds – T.J.S. George

T.J.S. George“Must we always let the world take us for granted? Either Norway must explain why it has done what it has done, or it must let the Indian children and their family return to India forthwith. If this is not done, India must declare it as an unfriendly act.” – T.J.S. George

Italian shootersTwo astonishing events have shown up some of India’s inadequacies for the world to marvel at: Italians killing two Indian fishermen, and Norwegians taking two small children away from their Indian parents. Both involve conflicts of culture and race, and both point to India’s unwillingness to recognise that reality.

India’s fishing boats are not allowed to be armed. Nor did a case of piracy ever occur off the west coast. Yet an Italian shooter formally said the boat was armed and moving aggressively. Maybe the shooters were bored. It was a big ship, a long voyage. It was evening, Grappa time. Excellent marksmen, they hit one hapless fisherman on the head, the other on the chest.

By Delhi’s standards, India took a strong stand against the intransigent Italians. What we should notice, however, is Italy’s herculean efforts to save their citizens from the clutches of India. Ministers, diplomats, lawyers and maritime experts dashed to India, with every conceivable legal/diplomatic manoeuvre up their sleeves. Compare that with India’s virtual non-action when our merchant marine captains were arrested in Taiwan and South Korea.

George AlencherryA newly crowned Kerala Cardinal, still in the Vatican, reportedly pleaded on behalf of the Italians. This was odd even in terms of faith; one of the dead fishermen was a Catholic named Valentine (Jalestine?) and the fishing boat’s name was St. Antony. Do Italian Catholics rank higher than Indian Catholics? There were enough Catholic priests in Kerala to protest against the Cardinal’s misplaced priorities and that redeemed the Church’s credibility to some extent.

If the Italian shooting was a crime, so was Norway seizing the Indian babies, aged three and one, from their parents. The published reasons were that the parents were hand-feeding them and making them sleep on the same bed with them. The authorities also said there was an emotional disconnect between the mother and the kids. Despite the Indian government’s intervention, Norway’s child welfare authorities refused to give any further explanation.

If the stated reasons are the only reasons, Norway is plain stupid. So there may be other reasons. But as long as the Child Protection Service remains high and mighty about it, it will be seen as a culturally insensitive, racially prejudiced, beehive of deviants. They have given the parents permission to see the children twice a year until the children are 18 years old. This in spite of an assurance to India that the children would be handed over to their father’s brother.

The BhattacharyasThe Child Protection Service has a rather notorious track record. A 2005 UN report criticised Norway for taking too many children under state care—12,500 at the time, in a country whose total population is half of Bangalore district’s. Also, let us not forget Breivik, the full-blooded Norwegian who machine-gunned 77 fellow citizens at a Labour Party camp near Oslo last year. He no doubt ate with a baby spoon and slept in his own room from birth, his parents kissing him Good Night as they shut the door every night. A correctly brought-up psychotic killer.

What the Child Protection Service did to the Indian babies was nothing short of abduction. India should have brought on Norway the kind of heavy-duty pressure Italy is bringing on India in a much weaker case. But we saw only the usual protocol-bound mumbo-jumbo.

TelenorNorway itself set us an example. When the Supreme Court cancelled 2G spectrum licences, Norway’s Telenor was one of the companies affected. Within days, a Norwegian minister was in Delhi to pressurise India in favour of Telenor. Why didn’t India send ministers, child welfare specialists, lawyers and diplomats to Norway to correct the injustice done to an Indian family for not bringing up its children the Norwegian way? Must we always let the world take us for granted? Either Norway must explain why it has done what it has done, or it must let the Indian children and their family return to India forthwith. If this is not done, India must declare it as an unfriendly act. – The New Indian Express, Chennai. Feb. 26, 2012

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4 Responses

  1. Bhattacharya kids handed over to uncle – Vaiju Naravane | The Hindu | Paris | 23 April 2012

    “I feel immense relief and immeasurable joy that my children have been released and will be returning to India today [on Monday],” Arurup Bhattacharya, whose children, Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya (1), became a cause celebre in India after they were placed in foster care by Norweigian authorities last May, told The Hindu in an interview.

    “My only wish now is that the media, particularly the electronic media, stop interfering in our lives and leave us alone. My children are not animals in a menagerie that they should become the object of voyeurism and idle curiosity. Abhigyan has serious problems and we would not like anything to upset the fragile equilibrium he has been fighting to achieve,” Mr. Bhattacharya said.

    The Norwegian District Court in Stavanger on Monday announced its verdict saying it had agreed to hand over custody of the children, who were placed in care on grounds of parental neglect, to the children’s paternal uncle Dr. Arunabhas Bhattacharya, a 27-year-old dentist from Asansole. The children left Norway later in the day accompanied by the uncle, the foster father, a care worker Tove Roisland Hernes and Consular Officer Balachandran and his wife.

    However, Mr. Bhattacharya said that while the months spent in foster care had helped his older child Abhigyan in some respects, his condition had deteriorated in others. Abhigyan is said to be suffering from Attachment Disorder, a personality disorder that develops in very early infancy when a child fails to receive adequate care and is unable to form a deep attachment with its principal caregiver that subsequently allows it to explore the world.

    “I notice that Abhigyan’s head banging has worsened. He has become even more stubborn and adamant than before. Yes, he does make eye contact now. But he has also started hitting his little sister, something he never did before,” Mr. Bhattacharya said. Placing the children away from their natural parents (even if there was marital discord in the family and the mother was unable to cope allegedly due to psychological problems) had not proved useful at all, Mr. Bhattacharya suggested. Placing both the children in alien foster environments had actually worsened the boy’s condition, he said.

    “My brother has taken them back to their own culture. He is their legal guardian now and is shouldering a great responsibility and a very heavy burden. The Stavanger Child Welfare Service (CWS) is confident that he is fully capable of giving the children the care and assistance they need,’ Mr. Bhattacharya said.

    There was some delay in handing over the final court document to Mr. Bhattacharya. “The delay was caused by the fact that the court went over the agreement again and took time to study it. I handed the court document to my client,” Svein Svendesen, Mr. Bhattacharya’s lawyer told The Hindu.

    However, there was a total refusal on the part of the Child Welfare Service to admit that it could in any way have mishandled the Bhattacharya case. In a press statement on the view taken by the court, the Stavanger Municipality said: “The grounds for removing the children from the care of their parents were and continue to be present, but it is no longer necessary for them to stay with a family in Norway as agreement has now been reached that the children are to grow up in the care of their uncle and will not be living with their parents.”

    Baby Abhigyan with uncle Arunabhas Bhattacharya in Norway on Monday. Photo courtesy: NDTV
    Baby Abhigyan with uncle Arunabhas Bhattacharya in Norway on Monday, 23 April 2012. Photo courtesy: NDTV

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  2. Much has been written about the CWS in Norway and Sweden and their dubious reputation in regard to issues of child protection. The present case of the Indian children is not the fi rst and may not be the last. For one, a critical issue that emerges is the role of the State. Is the state, in this instance the welfare state, one that many saw as essentially progressive and which took care of the citizens’ basic needs of healthcare and education,
    now turning into a nightmare? Is it becoming a parent and not a very benevolent one at that? From all accounts, it
    appears that parents are terrifi ed of the CWS and their personnel. It would seem that it is an industr y wherein “work” has to be found for the ever- expanding industry with a network of foster parents who are paid handsomely for their “fostering”, and are supported by a large network of psycho logists who provide the required reports. Generally, it is the most vulnerable families, the poor and the immigrants who fall easy prey to this industry. Needless to say, there must be motivated social workers who are sincerely committed to the cause of children.

    The Nordic Committee for Human Rights (NCHR), founded by professionals from Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland in 1996, with the express mandate of defending the basic human rights of children and families has noted that these
    countries have a long history of taking children into custody. The NCHR’s sharp observations in the present Indian case are extremely significant. It notes that this is a typical case of the Norwegian welfare state’s policy of breaking up families and taking children into care. These children are invariably traumatised and become the future clients of an ever-expanding social welfare services network. What is disturbing is the role of the courts and their jurisdiction over children who are Indian nationals, indicating that they are being covertly adopted by foster parents. Thus they insidiously become part of the foster home “industry”. The Norwegian state’s policies have come in for serious criticism from international quarters as well, with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) committee expressing serious concern in 2005 “at the number of children being removed from families and put in foster homes in Norway”. http://epw.in/epw/uploads/articles/17203.pdf

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  3. I am from Malayasia. I have nothing against keralites. But the way Kerala Christians come to convert Indians ( Hindus) in Malayasia is deplorable and outright buffonery. We have Goan Christians not as large as Kerala C , but they do not indulge in this, Such literate state indulging in all this unproductive activity is a shame. We were taken out of the morass by the Late Sivaya Subramuniyaswami and thanks to them we can fight this menace.

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    • Kerala Christians may be educated but they are unemployed. They form the bulk of the slave labour used in the empty European convents and monasteries, to wash the floors and clean the toilets. The Church employs them as missionaries everywhere in the world. You will find Kerala Christian preachers and proselytizers in London and New York.

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