Sunday, September 16, 2012

Do Parents Really Love?

In our society, the idea that parents always work for their children’s best interests is instilled right from infancy in our minds. The statement is so overused as to have become clichĂ©d. The ICSE council has even set an argumentative essay topic based on this concept. For most people, this idea has become such an intrinsic part of the psyche that they can easily overlook the weightiest of proofs against it. For such people, this article might seem to be an outrageous insult to parents and all elders in general. However, to those who like to think logically, it might start a new train of thoughts and beliefs.

In the many ways that my life has been different from my friends’, one very important factor is that people of all ages keep coming to my father looking for advice or just sympathy, and often my father tells me their stories. Nowadays, even my friends have started treating me as a father (mother!) confessor, so that I come to know of the darkest secrets of many of them, and by putting myself in their shoes, I am able to live many lives at once, which helps broaden my mind. And, from the many experiences I have heard of, I find it very difficult to conform with the idea that all elders, especially parents, always know (and want) what is the best for their children.

When I was in primary school, I remember my friends gawking at me with disbelief clearly etched on their faces when I told them that my parents did not beat me. Those were the days when thrashings were a part of everyday life for almost all my friends. One girl had even gone so far as to inform me that since my father did not beat me, he obviously did not love me! It was during this very time when, after the results of a class test had been declared, many of my friends had started weeping profusely. One girl was beside herself with terror, and kept saying that her mother would not let her enter the house, and thrash her for not getting full marks. She had got eighteen out of twenty. Today, I can swear that I have received more love from my parents than half of my class taken together. And no, I have not been beaten more than four or five times throughout my life, but never to the extent of being badly injured, and certainly never because of my results. In fact, the last time I was smacked was five years ago!

This thrashing is not even a childhood thing. One of my friends told me his father regularly hit him even when he was in class twelve. In fact, things had turned so nasty in their family that he had actually started hitting his father back (well, not exactly hitting back since he was not a monster, but the self-defense was violent), and breaking glass windows in his anger! My father had a student in class ten who once came to class with huge angry-red weals on her arms. Apparently, her mother had burnt her with a hot ladle as punishment. As for black eyes and sprained arms, those are regular sights in my class.One girl who came to my father's class had multiple deep scars all over her body.

For some reason, parents seem to feel that hitting their children is their sacred right. This has nothing to do with wanting to correct one’s children; it is just a perverted yearning to display one’s superiority. The mother of one of my father’s students has actually acknowledged this at a counselling session. She says that she somehow cannot stop spanking her daughter even though she understands that it useless.

Hitting children needlessly is only one aspect of how parents think of everything but their children’s welfare. My friends tell me that their parents often shout at them because of their low marks not because of their lack of hard work or knowledge but because the parents won’t be able to show off in front of their neighbours, colleagues and relatives! So basically, what their children learn is the least important consideration; children are just their parents’ status symbols, a means to satisfy their already bloated egos.  

As a rule, parents select the kind of higher education, the career, even the spouse for their children. The children are not allowed to have opinions, choices of their own. I have heard from my friends (and some seniors as well) that their parents have threatened not to pay their school and college fees unless they abide by their parents' choice. So it all comes down to that: the bread-earner is the only one who has any say. At one point, all that counts is sheer animal superiority of one over another. But the paradox lies in the fact that when these same children become adults who earn their own living, the parents will use the sentiments of love and respect to demand the same kind of obedience that they used to get by force earlier.

It is this very mindset which when pushed to the extreme leads to female foeticide and other such heinous deeds. Delhi, the capital and one of the richest cities of the country has the highest rate of female foeticide. Obviously, this has nothing to do with poverty or illiteracy: the elite of the country indulge in such activities. Parents in our country leave their newborn babies in gutters. The rate of abortion is high among urban people who realize too late that they have ‘made a mistake’. I don’t require highbrow theories and far-fetched examples to make my point: it is all there much nearer home. There are many girls in my class who face constant discrimination in their homes because of their gender. The son, no matter what kind of a person he might be, is always better, and so he deserves the best of everything, even if it is at the cost of his sister’s welfare. Well, I should be calling these parents better; they at least stop at discrimination only. There is someone I know whose grandmother tried to poison her (if not with her father’s consent, at least with no strong resistance from him) because she did not like her daughter-in-law and her grandchildren much. So much for parents always loving their children.

In the article from The Hindu, the parents have protested loudly against the idea that they could batter their child badly enough to have to hospitalize him. However, I have fallen down from the bed enough times (once, directly on my head) to know that a mere fall from the bed doesn’t result in such grievous injuries. And judging from all the anecdotes I have heard firsthand, I don’t find it at all difficult to believe that the parents are at fault. So what is it that is lacking in Indian parents? What is wrong with them? Why do they treat their children like their property (and not even property that should be well taken care of)? How can their mentality be changed? I wish I knew, I wish I knew…   


Sayan Datta said...

This is one brilliant post, Urbi, thoroughly logical on the one hand and deeply emotional on the other. I wonder if the most erudite of scholars will be able to put forward something so reasonable and balanced on such a topic as this. How I wish all thinking people of this country could read this!

Speaking of thrashings, I remember how, during a certain span of time which lasted for a few months in my childhood, I used to beat up my brother, who was and still is a gem of a human being, on the slightest pretext. I still feel guilty about it, though many years have passed. But one day I willed myself to stop. And lo! The perverted urge was gone! I think parents can stop being so barbaric but only if and when they really want to. Of course it requires them to accept being at fault first, which their bloated egos won't allow them to.

About discrimination too, I can speak a little, because I have had a bit of first-hand experience. There was a certain relative in my family, who, when she came to visit us in Durgapur (and who would always lodge at our house), would bring all sorts of gifts for all my numerous cousins and the only people who would be left out would be my brother and me. It seems insignificant, but I was only a child then...! The result is that I am more considerate and sensitive towards others than most others can ever hope to be. Whenever I buy things for someone in a family, I see to it that no one is left out, especially children, however big the family may be. It's a bit like that story, you know, of two brothers whose father used to drink, come home late at night and beat them up, and how the two brothers grew up to be exactly opposite of one another. The onus to change lies with the individual and so does the capacity to do so. It is not my intention to brag, though. In fact, you can ask Rashmi. She will tell you.

All said and done I wish to thank you for this eye-opening post. It was a wonderful experience.

Urbi Chatterjee said...

Dear Sayanda,

Thank you for your prompt comment. From what I have come to know about you from dad and through your writings, I don't have to ask Rashmidi to believe what you said about your own nature. I am glad that the childhood experience had such a positive effect on you. But for most people it doesn't work that way at all. The people who are discriminated against as children continue to treat their own children in the same manner when they become adults. If more people reacted as you did, our world would have been a much nicer place.

Sunandini Mukherjee said...

Dear Urbi,
Your post reminded me of a small incident.I had gone for my computer tuition and since I had a number of questions to ask my teacher it was about 9p.m when I left the class.Miss insisted that her husband accompanied me home and a few minutes later I was standing outside their flat(kaku had gone to get his scooter)when I heard sobs coming from the opposite flat and then a woman shouting"nyakami korbi na ekdom-oth,soja hoe danra,ebar hat tol ektuo bekle ajke ratre khawa bondho."On asking kaku I came to know that the poor boy had his games test the next day and his'loving'mother was training him up so that he got 'A'in games.How I thank God for not giving me such'loving'parents!
Such parents do not own any right to have children and I agree with you:a mere fall from bed cannot injure a child so badly(I had fallen down on my head once when I was one and a half years old)and these kinds of parents are nothing more than impatient,selfish adults with huge egos(I had shouted at my aunt when I was ten for beating up her daughter mercilessly when the girl failed to come first in the examination).I just wish more people understood that bringing up children is a big responsibility which requires patient attention and love in the true sense of the term.

Rashmi Datta said...

Dear Pupu,

I cannot agree more with you on the attitude of Indian parents in general. For a majority of them, their children are indeed status symbols nothing unlike their ‘smart’ phones or glitzy cars and because it is fashionable nowadays to show off their children’s marks, it is the major cause of child-thrashing. A Kolkata based psychologist says that every year during the admission time, she has to counsel many ‘depressed’ parents because their three year old kids ‘were not able to’ get admission into lower kindergarten in a ‘reputed’ school. Many of them apparently stop socializing (which means partying) and some even turn alcoholics because they are unable to cope with the depression!

One of my twelve year old students told me that his father frequently thrashes him so badly that he ends up with very serious injuries like broken bones and torn lips. Now that I think of it, many of my students too come with parts of their faces black and blue or marks of finger nails dug deep into their flesh. When I enquire, they say quite unconvincingly that they had fallen off a bicycle or something like that.

It is not even always about hitting children. Many a times, parents are deliberately unkind to their children over petty issues. One of my students’ mothers came to me one evening and declared loudly that she was ashamed of her daughter because she got poor marks in a certain school exam. So many parents openly discourage their children when they fail to do a certain work in the first attempt. Many of them compare their children with their friends so frequently and unnecessarily that the kids either become very subdued or very aggressive. At the end of the day, they say that they did all that because they ‘love’ their children.

I have noticed another trend these days in parents. Whenever I tell them that their ward is not doing her home-work on time or is consistently getting very low marks, the response is very prompt. They promise me that they will look into the matter instantly. But whenever I tell them that their son/daughter has cheated in the test or bullied classmates or lied or used indecent language in class, they are not only quite complacent about it but often defend their children to their last breath. That is the state of Indian parenting! Of course a certain degree of fear for authority is essential, at least until a certain period but misusing that authority and becoming a maniac cannot be justified at all.

Such parents mistreat their children because they realize how insignificant they and their lives are and burn inwardly with discontentment. To compensate their shortcomings, they use their kids as some kind of ornament meant to be shown off. I am sure most of them ill-treat their servants and sub-ordinates too.

Your misgivings about the New Jersey couple case make complete sense. I wonder how many parents would be allowed to retain their children in India if we had such an active and ‘strict’ Child Services Unit here.

Thank you for writing this thought provoking post. Keep writing.

Best wishes

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Few comments here. That itself is a telling point: a lot of people have not had experiences with parents that they are proud of, but they don't want to talk about it. Learn something important about Indian culture from this - if you are ashamed or embarrassed about something, play the ostrich, that's our motto!

'Children', wrote Oscar Wilde, 'start by adoring their parents. Afterwards they judge them. Rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.' Given the way we have brought you up - never telling you that education and marks are the same, or that education means only reading science, or that education can substitute for civilized values, or that the sole purpose of growing up is to get a job and/or get married, and giving you a lot of what is called quality time, sharing a lot of 'boroder byapar' from an early age so that you don't grow up typically nyaka boka, showing you how much enjoyment of life does not depend on having either company or money, always trying to steer a halfway course between crude indulgence and coarse tyranny - I hope that you will forgive us our mistakes (as all parents make, but most don't admit) and follies when it's time for you to judge. No parent can pray for more.

With love,

Debarshi Saha said...

Dear Urbi,
A very nice post indeed-this post is so well-written that comments would seem almost superfluous,adding nothing substantial to the written content.Sir and you have said it all,very simply.

Have you read Dr. Stephen Covey's work,"The 7 habits of highly effective people"?He explains this fact so simply too-too often do parents seek to make their children 'understand',instead of understanding them.But,in a country like India,where reading books is almost fast resembling a dying-out ritual-how can one expect parents to really seek to understand,then to be understood?

Very nice post,Urbi-Sir's comment is so honest,so courageous,and so poignant-reminding us all that even at best,we are utterly human.But,then,Sir has always called a spade by the same name-and has steadfastly held on to his ideals.

With best wishes,

Shilpi said...

My dear Pupu,

I won’t try to give any excuses for not writing a comment sooner.

Yes, parents especially in India are not only completely sure that their children are their own property to abuse in different ways or to simply keep in perpetual enslavement of some sort but more so even society at large sees children as the property of their parents. That’s probably the difference between western nations (at least from what I even personally know and read upon in the US and Great Britain) and ours. The value of a child’s life and the protection of that life from physical abuse especially and especially from parents has been the basis of the child protection services and upheld by the law in these two countries, and others too. There are different sides of the picture here too, and every year there is one major incident or the other and sometimes more where even babies have died due to severe neglect and abuse because child protection services did not take the matter seriously enough or were overworked, and from the other side there are other arguments which say that the organizations and the law courts are fanatical in deeming what they consider to be abuse given the kind of society the US is in some ways, and the social values that it subscribes to.

Hitting and physical abuse in India is far more common, and from what I remember too from seeing and hearing and remembering what I did around me. The following part is personal and may shock many but since it is all true maybe other people who read your blog can see whether they have had similar experiences. I don’t remember being physically hit too often but I do remember seeing my brother being hit often enough and very often threatened until he began to hit back, and my parents weren’t very shy of being violent with one another (although it’s probably very chee-chee to mention all these things openly but alright if it happens in families). As far as I was concerned, my parents tried convincing me that I was nothing but a slow and useless dullard from the time I was 7, and once when I was in my mid-teens I shut them up for a bit by talking of genetics of which I knew very little but enough. I was viewed as the family clown – to be made fun of or to be told how stupid I was, and anything I told anybody in confidence (I shared very little anyway by the time I hit double digits) was then shared as the family joke during lunch or dinner but I wasn’t physically hit more than a couple of times. The rest of the people in my family have all forgotten all instances of any abuse or ill-treatment or utter disregard and even contempt for each other, and they kept telling me for years how much they “love” me and said I was not really human for remembering all this through my teens (I was dismissed as being ‘too sensitive’ and told ‘oh, all these things happen in all families’, and ‘you think you are perfect?’) and then matters got unpleasant when I told them off when I was 21 because I was seen as being very ‘meek and submissive’ too earlier because I kept quiet most of the times. Even later I did laugh off and tried to sweep much under the carpet and then the carpet had to be lifted in entirety, and so I told them to stay away, and so now I am apparently the one who has ‘insulted’ them. My mother I know has said earlier “…toke jodi amra prithibite nai antam tahole tui kothay jeti..’. I have even been cursed by her with “dekhbi tore jibone aar keo thakbe na…” – and yet of course they will claim that I am the one who is abnormal for believing in what I do, and for valuing what/whoever I have left in my life, and at 37 and after thinking more than they will ever know.

Shilpi said...

…sadly enough I was quite free with my fists while in school for no reason and it didn’t take much for me to punch girls or even my cousins. By the time I was in college I didn’t use my fists quite so often but my voice probably grew louder and gruffer than what it had been. I do remember your dad telling me one day when I was 27, and rather sadly that violence is the last measure to be used with another (I forget the exact quote!), and it had made me guiltily admit that I had been free with my fists.

The status bit that you write about made me let out a wry and sad grin as well as the matter of career choices and the obsession that a majority of parents have with job, security and some warped understanding of status. I remember that my mother once again when I was about 19 told me off for going and tutor a kid in kindergarten saying that that wasn’t ‘reputable’. I did tutor that kid and different kids off and on but I still remember her statement. I’m not sure what she thought was disreputable about teaching a kid but I have the feeling that both of them knew the only way to keep me bonded was to make me be financially dependent upon them. And my parents belonged to that massive horde of doctors who pride themselves on being educated and are very ‘status’ conscious. I don’t dismiss all doctors but most of the ones I saw during my growing up years made me feel a little filthy sometimes, and it made me alarmed to think of how many of the sins of the parents grow and take root in their children…this still alarms me about myself so I keep watch over myself and my own actions, and I can only pray sometimes.

Shilpi said...

As for gender discrimination, female foeticide and infanticide – this I think connects to the very low value that girls have at a social level in our country, and among the middle class and elite classes. Even last year there was a report in the BBC with figures. This is something I’ve thought about a fair bit and written elsewhere in terms of how values, beliefs, morals, and social norms, and certain laws are framed within a country. I don’t know whether my hierarchical understanding is absolutely correct but I’ve not come across anything better. The girls who are killed off even before they are born are devalued so much that they aren’t even considered to be ‘worthwhile’ property. I remember having a debate in class with the old professor back in college in Calcutta, and the talk was about the sex-determination test. I’d argued that merely banning the test by law would simply mean that girls were being born in families which would rather have them dead. He told me that by not banning the test the girls didn’t have a chance to live…the more I thought about the matter the only thing I could think of is about the need for a change in the social and individual consciousness, and now at this age I’m not only back to where I started but have far more mixed thoughts on this matter of gender itself and sexual differences, innate and culturally ossified and children and parents, and I don’t think I’m very much wiser in the matter to be honest. As for what your dad has written elsewhere and what he writes above about negotiating the road between gross and crude indulgence and coarse brutish tyranny and the admittance to what is generally termed ‘boroder byapar’ – that is a hard road indeed, and for distinguishing between even education and civilized values (this is something I have questions for your dad)…in this respect and more I am gladder than I can say that you have your dad around and your mum. I felt that way when I saw you for the first time when you were a baby of 1 and a ½ years old. I know I haven’t covered every point on your post but it certainly made my brains work and it also made me reflect again over Weber’s quote which your dad has reminded me of on more than a couple of occasions, of how much of the world one can take…Funnily enough I've never heard a sociologist using this quote.

May God be with you as you walk your road, Pupu. I can tell you this much that reading this post of yours brought for me the feelings of both admiration and pride.

Rajdeep said...

Dear Pupu,

A very brave effort on your part.
The position of ones parents does not matter as you rightly pointed out. I personally know grown up sons and daughters of so-called well established doctors who have been abused in their childhood by their doctor parents. So, some of them have been leading "doctored" lives as I call it. Abused children carry their marks throughout their lives even though the physical wounds may have healed ages ago, sometimes unable to form normal relationships etc. etc.
It is fairly common especially in West Bengal. My best guess is, this is more common that we would like to believe. You are one of the lucky few to have a wonderful father and mother.
Parents abuse children even in developed countries. But here, as far as I know, the trend is higher in case of lower income families.
As you much be knowing, a smack for doing something wrong, that is not aimed at causing permanent physical damage but only temporary pain, is a good thing. In developed countries, sometimes parents are accused for even trying to simply discipline errant children.
As India grows more affluent and rules change, we could easily go the same way.
As Sir said so many times, after Taare Zameen Par ...(the context is different in this case)

But, the hard fact is, despite all the stringent laws in developed countries, there are lots of abusive parents. In yesterday's news, a father was arrested for killing his daughter after abusing her for several years.
I believe, we are looking at a graver social problem here. It may be directly related to education, building of national character, our media and much more! What do you think?
I hope I haven't put too much on your plate.

Keep up the good work!

And best always

Subhadip Dutta said...

Hi Pupu,

A wonderful post indeed!

Your post reminds me of my childhood. I have received thrashings, and sometimes bashings also, almost till the age of 15. After that the thrashings became a bit infrequent, however they did not stop totally. And the main reason for those thrashings was studies. I never had the guts to become aggressive at home at that age, so I humbly accepted what came by. At one point of time, I remember, I had become shameless and had become absolutely immune to the pain of being beaten up. I had stopped fearing the threats of my mother, and used to very promptly reply to her that the maximum that she could do was beat me up. I remember myself staying quiet (not even shouting or protesting, just letting my mother accomplish her task and go), and sometimes even giggling as my mother used to beat me up. That used to anger her up even more and she became more vicious. But so immune had I become to the pain, that those beatings never mattered for me. Getting bashed up at home was literally something in my daily routine, and a day in my life at that time when I did not get a sound beating from my parents, especially from my mother, was a day a bit out-of-the-track. It may sound a bit funny, but I used to eat a lot and exercise and play vigorously every day those days (sometimes extending up to as much as four and a half hours of strenuous physical exercise in a day) so that I would become stronger and become more resistant to physical pain.

Strangely enough, after my exhibiting this kind of shameless behaviour with my mother I found that she had reduced the frequency of the beatings, and after that I used to receive beatings for only bad behaviour with others, but even that was not very infrequent. And as usual the beatings did not have any effect and made me aggressive.

I do not know what happened, but when I was almost 17 years old, I found that my mother used to beat me up very occasionally and that too for extreme bad behaviour. She had probably realized that beating was making me nothing other than a very thick skinned person. Fortunately, both for me and for her, she realized her mistake and stopped those things within some more time. I remember her thrashing me hardly thrice in my four years of college, and that too for extreme bad behaviour with my father, which I think was a valid reason. I also cannot forgive myself for the way I had behaved with my father on those occasions – I now know I should not have done that.

But what I wanted to tell here is my mother realized in the end that beating ultimately spoils the child. She may have realized very late, but the realization is the big thing. Nowadays, we have differences in opinions, and she tries to dominate me also (of course not by beating). We have arguments, exchange of words, sometimes heated, and we voice our opinions. But when my mother feels that things may go out of hand, she lets me have things my way. This is really unbelievable for me. A person who had always wanted to dominate now respects my decisions and discusses with me before making a major decision at home.

And for all this, I have really forgotten what I have gone through in my childhood. I really sometimes feel happy that my mother has changed her ways and nowadays goes around telling other mothers not to beat up their children and not to create a false sense of pressure in the minds of their children.

I feel she is really worth forgiving!

--Subhadip da.

Urbi Chatterjee said...

Dear Shilpidi and Rajdipda,

I thank both of you for your comments. Shilpidi, for now all I shall say is that you have my heartfelt love and sympathy for all that you have had to face. Since this is about your personal life, we can discuss it later in private.

Rajdipda, your comment set me thinking, which is why the delay in replying to you. It is very true that no disciplining can spoil a child and seriously harm his development. Till a certain age, the only language that children understand is the language of fear, which is best inspired by a little spanking. But human beings always tend to veer between extremes. So while in some countries parents are at perfect liberty to beat their children into pulp, in others even a harsh word for correcting a child will bring forth disapproval from all quarters. And it is very possible that the second might happen in India as well some day, though going by the current mindset of most people, I cannot imagine that happening in the near future.

I do not think that either of these two ideas will begin changing until most people realize the necessity of striking a balance between punishment and indulgence. This lack of balance is a global phenomenon, and affects us in every sphere of life. However, it is very difficult to walk the middle path when everybody around you is urging you to live a life of excess. Our media, education system and national psyche is tuned to this love for extremities. It takes an extraordinary amount of moral courage to fight this tide and do what one feels is right. If the time ever comes (and I think it is very unlikely) when human beings by the thousands start having such strength of character, we might live in a different kind of world. One can only dream of such things...

Prasanga Banerjee said...

Dear Urbi
I feel that partly its about the gender discrimination.I have received quite a number of thrashings from my parents only for grave mistakes,but i can say that they always think well of me.On the other hand when my sister Adrija used to live here,she used to get thrashed by her father regularly for petty issues.Of course i have no doubt about his love for his daughter but his way was quite painful for my sister.I did not get that kind of a treatment.why??!!Just because i am a boy??I think so..If you look in the general Indian society,a girl child is unwanted.So a girl is taken for granted.

Thrashing someone for coming home late or bringing low marks in an examination!!That is really ridiculous.Instead of making them understand they leave a scar.

A few days ago my father told me one of my cousin's story who is now studying in the U.S..He told me that she had got less than 10 in her class 9 final exams..When her father saw that,he did not even utter a word.Next time that same girl was the topper of the class.

So its clear that making someone understand his/her mistake can be done in a totally harmless way.So I
think that parents thrash their children only to display their anger.

Lastly I feel that they are illiterate..May be that they have gone to school but they are not EDUCATED.(Indians are confusing)..So in a way they are illiterate.Moreover 90% of Indians do not get the benefit of schools.

sayantika said...

Dear Pupu,
After reading your post and some of the comments, I must say that I am one of those lucky few and a happy childhood. First of all, my mother has never thrashed me. I even joke with her that it would have been better if she had thrashed, since words hurt more than beatings. I have been thrashed by my father four or five times, the last time was almost 14 years ago, when I was eleven. (I even buried the ruler in with which I was thrashed in the garden). And it was never for marks, it was mostly because of my obstinacy, nor was I ever injured. Yet, I did not become one of those spoilt brats indulging in excesses. We have had disagreements often, but my parents have respected my decisions and have been happy with whatever I have achieved. I think the new-age parents are too impatient with their children. I often feel outraged to see how some of my dadas and boudis treat my toddler nephews.
I have never faced gender discrimination. In fact, I was pampered because of being the only girl in my extended family. But I have seen it from close quarters. When a girl was born, the first words of her grandfather (a relative) was, "Das-ponero lakh takar dhakka." Unfortunately, these people call themselves 'educated'.
Thanks and with love,
Sayantika di.

sayantika said...

Sorry for the typos, Pupu. It should be 'with a happy childhood' and there should be no 'in' after ruler.

With love,
Sayantika di

Haddock said...

Well observed and well said.
If you notice, it is the unfulfilled dreams of the parents (read Father here) that they try to thrust on their children hoping that they will accomplish it.

Urbi Chatterjee said...

Thank you Mr/Ms 'Haddock' for your kind words. However, I must say I cannot agree fully with your statement. Among all the contemporaries and slightly older people I know, I have seen and heard of equal number of father and mothers trying to force their own unfulfilled dreams on their children. It differs from family to family, and it won't be fair to put it down as a fault of a parent of a particular gender.

Abhik Chatterjee said...

Well I was quite lucky like you that I didn't get much trashing from my parents, at least never for my results. Trashing for not concentrating on studies can be justified. Once I had asked my dad why he wanted me to study and if it was only for getting a handsome salary. He told me that if was only for money he wouldn't have ever asked me to study; he would have asked me to start a business. He also told me that steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal still regrets for not having completed his higher studies. I was indeed lucky to have him as my dad.
Apart from show off, I have heard parents comparing or rather competing about how obedient their children are. The child who never complains gets the top position. In the book “The White Tiger”, Arvind Adiga tells that in our country we are trained to be good servants from birth.
I think female foeticide has something to do with the marriage system in our country. In our country ninety percent of the marriages are arranged. Other than Bengal and few states in the South, the dowry system is still prevalent, though the practice is considered illegal (way back in 1961). I have close friends from North India. They have fixed the rate according to the educational qualification of the groom.
2-3 crores for an I.A.S. groom.
1-2 crores for an I.P.S. groom.
1 crore for an IITian or a doctor.
The list is a long one. The situation is worst in Rajasthan.
Parents who have to remain loyal to the dowry culture will regret having a daughter.
You also said about a case where a girl was poisoned by her grandmother; look it was her grandmother and not her grandfather who was involved. In most of the cases of sexual discrimination, as far as I have seen, male members are less involved. I am not saying male members are never involved, but it is not expected from a female to neglect someone of her own sex.

Urbi Chatterjee said...

Dear Abhikda,

Thank you for your comment, and welcome to my blog. I have read the book 'The White Tiger' and I agree that Arvind Adiga has portrayed many harsh truths about Indian society very well in the book. The dowry system is indeed another shameful fact about life in India. I remember a few years back there was a front-page article in the newspapers about how a woman judge of the Supreme Court had listed marrying off her daughter among her list of liabilities. This speaks volumes about the mentality of Indian parents about daughters, right from the highest level of society.

About the link that you have provided, are you sure the data is accurate? I did not have any idea that the percentage of arranged marriages is so high in our country. However, I do not think that the dowry system and female foeticide rates are high just because most marriages in India are arranged. It has more to do with the mentality of the people than the type of marriage they have had. Even parents who have had a love marriage may go for female foeticide, while a couple from an arranged marriage may welcome a girl child happily. Then again, I must acknowledge that this is just my guess, and not an informed one. So it is very likely that your theory is correct. Tell me if you find any more data on this issue.

Abhik Chatterjee said...

Dear Urbi,
You are right when you said that it is the mentality of a person. I am trying to provide a reason why girl child in India is not welcomed and dowry system (a system which is likely to work in arranged marriages) does burden a girl's family when it comes to getting her married.
Can't really comment on the authenticity of the site, but it is true that most of the marriages in India (country as a whole) are arranged.
Earlier I had a feeling that since the Indian society doesn't have high regard for a relationship (relationship of a male and a female of the same age group, even friendship) as they expect an arranged marriage. Later I cleared this misconception; it is the greed of dowry that causes sexual discrimination in friendships or relationships.