By M D Nalapat
The forced taking away of two small children from an Indian family for almost a year by an arm of the Norwegian state has made imperative knowledge of the mores of those below 18 in that country. For unless the children speedily accept such behaviour patterns and dump their cultural accoutrements down the drain, they are likely to be placed in a Norwegian foster home, with "parents" well compensated by the state for the onerous duty of bringing up children from uncivilised parts of the world to be Norwegian in thought and deed, if not entirely in appearance.
This columnist has never been to Norway, although friends who have say that it is a lovely country, with a population that is friendly and not as prone to xenophobia as some other parts of the world. The locals seem to believe that their own way of life is so desirable that young minds following another need to get indoctrinated into the Norwegian way. The best way of doing this, clearly, is to have the children separated from their natural parents and placed with those who may be described as "paid-for parents". These have the obligation of forcing through major changes in the lifestyle and attitudes of their state-provided "children", in order to keep getting the financial benefits made available to those spreading the Norwegian Way among the heathen. Of course, the parents of Anders Breivik were at no stage, it seems, in any danger of having their son taken away from them. Clearly, the Child Protection Service regarded the Breiviks as bringing up their son in a true Norwegian fashion, as indeed it evidently does the thousands of parents of local children who evolve into neo-Nazi youths.
Indian parents in Norway need to ensure that their young immerse themselves in habits that are quintessentially Norwegian. Those with knowledge of the country say that it is a location where those as young as 13 (or 15 at the oldest) taste the mysteries of the "birds and the bees". Clearly, having a teenager within the house who plays at "Birds & Bees" with friends of the other sex is not behaviour that would lead authorities to believe that such children need an attitude makeover. Norwegian parents are forgiving about such exertions, and indeed in many cases, encourage the young to experience the joys of togetherness in ways that would horrify most parents in India. However, barbarian parents from afar need to know that if their son or daughter shows a wholesome propensity for emulating Norwegian teenagers in such respects, to hold them back would probably be taken as cruelty and punished.
It is the same with alcohol. A bit of imbibing even at ages where liquor consumption is legally a crime is not looked upon askance by the easygoing people Norwegian parents are. Many Indian parents, including those located in Norway, may feel more than a bit of dismay if their offspring were to replace soda with beer or aerated waters with wine. They may scold and protest. In case they are sure that no report will be made of such behaviour to Kapil Sibal, they may even administer a slap. However, such reactionary conservatives need to know that the imbibing of alcohol is common among Norwegian youth, and hence blocking the same in one's own offspring may result in a meting out of the same fate as befell the Bhattacharyas. Parents from India need to "act Norwegian", and see such activity as a healthy part of the process of growing up. Indeed, there are medical sources which claim that wine is actually good for the heart, while beer may improve kidney function. Such views may serve as consolation while Junior and his Norwegian friends quaff bottle after bottle before taking part in the activity described in the previous paragraph.
There are, of course, degrees of civilisation. The highest is met by the French, who in between chewing at frogs' legs and biting into snails, know that no civilisation exists that can match them for aesthetic values. Europe does not in the main share the Indian idiosyncrasy of abstaining from beef or, in the case of some, pork. To stop one's children from eating one or the other of such meats may result in a summons before the Child Welfare Authority, which would naturally be aghast at this infringement of the freedom of the child to consume meat of his or her choice. Off they may go to Norwegian "fathers" and "mothers" who will be certain not to share the prejudices of parents from India against specific meats. Indeed, hunting for meat would be a pastime that would mark one out as a good Norwegian, while vegetarianism could result in eyebrows being raised. Those aware of the warp and woof of Norwegian society say that so broad-minded are the people of this land that they would not lose their temper even if their adolescent children peeped into the sort of reading matter that B.S. Yeddyurappa regards as essential for politicians on the make, which is the sort that was recently the subject of much prurient interest by television anchors across India.
Judging by media reports, the Norwegian authorities regard the feeding of children by hand as behaviour that deserves the extreme punishment of parents being deprived of their children, often permanently. Clearly, the Norwegians refuse to do anything as unsanitary as eating food by hand. Even sandwiches must, it seems, be eaten by knife and fork, as must chicken legs and all other food. Clearly, the KFC slogan "finger-licking good" needs to be banned in Norway, as it may promote the subversive (of Norwegian values) idea that fingers have any role in the transmission of food from the plate to the mouth.
The Bhattacharya case has demonstrated a mindset that goes by the "my way or the highway" approach. There are those who may regard the practical carrying out of activity by teens of the "birds and bees" variety as needing to be blocked. There are others who frown on the consumption of pork or beef, while others do not share the open-mindedness of Norwegian parents at underage children consuming alcohol. Sadly for them, such a mindset may attract the attention of the Norwegian Child Protection Service in a way that the Breivik household never did.
Sunday, 4 March 2012
Why target a Bhattacharya but not a Breivik? (Sunday Guardian)
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