Positive Screen Time: It Helps Children And Parents

Screen time evokes control, parental control as we talk about kids. Advice abound, online and offline, on how to manage screens for kids. No parenting discussion would ever be complete without the topic of screen time for kids. Quite a bit of parent-children communication centres on this subject.

Have you ever wondered how and why screen time brings forth friction and squabble? For an inevitable event, why should there be a push and pull for every aspect of the event? Why cannot there be a mutually acceptable common ground that makes everyone happy? Surely, nobody wants to be miserable about something that has become an integral part of life for everyone.

This leads us to the topic of positive screen time. While anyways we are at it, why not make every bit of it worth-while? Positive screen time is about children having good exposure and learning from it. It is about children having nice memories of their screen time. In short, making it a fun and enjoyable experience that children would look forward to growing up with.

So, how do we go about doing this? (Disclaimer: I am writing this as a stay-at-home father to soon-to-be six years old twin daughters. My experiences are hands-on, related to my daughters’ age and their growing up, and may not apply to higher age-groups).

Positive screen time is a family time

Look at it simply. Children are anyways going to watch, why not watch together? It has so many benefits.

A parent need not worry about the content at all. A parent knows what’s running, so will not come up with an abrupt end, a major tug-of-war point. There will be no time spent in instructing the children on what to see and what not to see and also checking the history of what the children finally saw.

Positive screen time is also about role-modelling. When the children see that all the adults in the house are busy pouring over their screens, s/he finds it obvious to do with one’s self. Indulging in screens ideally with both the parents or practically with one parent, children get the idea that doing this activity alone is not that enjoyable and not worthy enough to pursue.

With the children’s quota of screen time getting over as a collective family task, it leaves equal time for children to engage with each other as well as the parents. Imagine having everyone in the house watching screens at different intervals. Where the heck would be the time to even greet each other? Leave aside having a meaningful conversation or doing any task together.

Yes, there is a drawback. The parents do not get to act as adults in terms of having their screen time.

Screen time content as a means to foster common interest

Family viewing allows parents to introduce to children what they enjoyed in their childhood, or for that matter what they enjoy even now. There is enough variety in kids programming that can keep the adults, having varied interests, hooked up as well.

Consuming screen time together also works in shepherding children’s interests and trying to bring them on the same platform as their parents. The added benefit is that this hand-holding happens implicitly. There are no overt instructions, not even a mention of anything, children get their screen time and absorb along the way.

The only thing to keep in mind is that parents need to cross-check before-hand so that they do not end up watching what they don’t like and also, what they would not want their children to watch.

Positive screen time as a conversation tool

Simply put, positive screen time is active, and not passive. Meaning, parents pause the screen and talk to children about what’s happening on the screen. This applies to children of any age, and not just older children.

The programme is communicating to the audience – children and parents. Left on their own, it is difficult to gauge what the children are interpreting and it may show up in their behaviour and thinking in the most unexpected manner. The parents need to ensure that children get the message – explicit, implicit, intended, unintended, black, white and the many shades of grey along with.

The dialogue about what transpired during the videos can very well happen during the day. The characters of the programme can become a part of everyday household chores and keep conveying their messages, basis the parents’ imagination and application. This helps in broadening children’s perspective and imbibing learning from any source.

In nutshell

Screen time is here to stay. Whilst children are at it, let’s try and ensure that it does some good too, for the children as well as the parents.

Positive screen time for kids with the active involvement of parents has the potential to do just that. It encompasses discretion, quality, quantity and also the impact of screen time.

What would be your thoughts on the subject?

Toys And Games For Indian Children: A Missed Childhood

Have you ever tried buying toys or games? I tried in a shop claiming a decent assortment of toys and games. I found a Scrabble, a Pictionary, a Monopoly, a Battleship, 5-6 more games and that’s about it. For lack of options, I tried out online portals. It had a plethora of games claiming to be fun with learning, but for an exclusive game or a toy option, it was nothing more than what I saw in the store.

I walked all the aisles of the toys and games section in the store. An entire section was devoted to the assortment of Barbie dolls. One section had only the guns. One section was for blocks and one was for battery-operated toys. The last section dealt with the games mentioned above. I could not understand what were the options for children to just play?

I did a Google search on the Indian toys industry, found an article from The Hindu. It was a shocker.

3 facts about Indian toys industry

“The Indian toy market is about 0.5% of the world’s toy market,” says R Jeswant, VP Sales & Marketing, Funskool India Ltd (Source: The Hindu, March 14, 2020).

This is outrightly crazy. India has 17.7% of the world’s population (Source: Worldometers). If we talk only about children, India’s share in the world would anytime be more than 17.7%. Meaning, we have more than 18% of the world’s children in this country and they have only about 0.5% of the world’s toys to play with.

“85% of what’s sold in Indian toys market is imported. Again, 85% of the toys India imports is from China”, (Source: The Hindu, March 14, 2020).

This is another bummer. We have a pitiable share of the world market and whatever we do have comes from outside the country. China supplies 72.25% of Indian toys. If we ban China, and that we should, our children, for the time Make In India ramps up production, will have nothing to play with. A real nothing.

“India has $1.5 billion toy industry”, (Source: The Hindu, March 14, 2020).

$1.5 billion comes to 11238 Cr.  In 2019, about 26.62 % of the Indian population was in the 0-14 year category (Source: statista.com). This will come to 36.75 Cr below 14 years, though this is necessarily not the cut-off for toys and games. Combining the above 2 numbers will give us a budget of Rs. 305/- per child in India for buying toys and games for an entire year. A princely sum.

Unanswered Questions

  1. What would the children of the rest of the world be playing that Indian children are missing out on? Would the difference be limited to quantity or variety and quality of toys and games?
  2. How would this differential availability of toys and games manifest in Indian adults and adults in other parts of the world, who had access to them in their childhood?
  3. Is the limited access to toys and games for Indian children a recent phenomenon? Or has it been like this, historically?
  4. The Indian toy market is very small. What could be the reason? There is no demand because there is no supply. Or, there is no supply because there is no demand.
  5. Pictionary, Scrabble, Monopoly etc are games with a Western origin. Why aren’t these or for that matter any of the games not available in the vernacular avatar? Not even Pictionary cards?
  6. What about the Indian traditional toys and games? What are they? Where are they? Why there has never been scaling up for those 40-50 families in Channapatna, Chitrakoot, Kondapalli etc?
  7. China manufactures 72.25% of toys and games in the Indian market. How did this happen? How did we let it happen? What was the scenario earlier?
  8. India has hardly any outdoor spaces left in the urban areas for children to come out. If the toys and games are minuscule, what are the avenues for Indian children to play? Do they play at all?
  9. India has a plethora of institutional set-ups for children. If their buying of toys and games is taken out of the Indian numbers, what exactly would be left for the children at home?
  10. Lastly, what would be the thoughts of Indian parents about toys and games that it leads to such abysmal numbers?

My views

  1. Weight of school bags gets heavier by the day in India.
  2. Weight of parental expectations gets heavier by the day in India. (Why bother for anything that does not count towards JEE/NEET?)
  3. Parents who have not lived their childhood perpetuates the same with their children.
  4. As on date in India, malls are open, restaurants are open, religious places are open. But, the children parks are shut. Why? We don’t expect the children to play, only study online education. Hence, the continued lockdown for children below 10 years, 4 months over and counting.
  5. Letting children be themselves and have fun is a losing proposition in today’s world.

Above mentioned points are my guesses. Maybe, all wrong. After all, no children have ever complained; not even after becoming adults.

What would be your views about toys and games for Indian children?

PS: I consider Barbie a stereotype, not a toy. Similarly, the guns are meant for Army and Police, not for children. With all these STEM fun & learning combinations, why can’t we let children have just unbridled fun without the prerequisite of learning?

Temper Tantrums: Don’ts And Do’s

In the first part, I wrote about the temper tantrums as an inevitable element of growing up for children as well as parents. The first strategy to deal with temper tantrums is to try that they do not occur in the first place. However, they are bound to happen. So, how to deal with them?

Temper Tantrums Don’ts and Do’s

Basis first-hand experience as a hands-on and stay-at-home parent, I have a laundry list of Don’ts to deal with temper tantrums. The Do’s list consists of just one.

  1. Don’t focus on the surroundings.

The child is throwing up in public. The child is bad behaviour personified. Everybody is looking in the direction of the child and the parent. A parent is feeling ashamed, wants to run away from the scene, wants the earth to open up below the feet.

What should a parent do? Just forget about the people around. Believe me, everybody has only sympathy for the parent facing the child. Each parent in the audience has gone through this ordeal herself/himself. Why should they look down on anyone who is going through what they have endured themselves? For the others, either they do not have children or they had children so long ago that they have forgotten how it was way back then.

The child in rage deserves the sole attention from the parent, and not the notion of being a cool parent. It is fine. Simply put, everybody understands a parent’s position.

2. Don’t distract the child. If the distraction would have worked, temper tantrums would not have happened in the first place. It has failed, do not repeat it. It will make matters worse.

3. Don’t reward/punish the child to get rid of the situation. Even under normal circumstances, rewards and punishment are not the suggested parenting tools. When the storm is at the peak, they are not going to deliver. It will be further detrimental to the situation.

4. Don’t give in to the child. Once a parent does this, temper tantrums become a part of the learned behaviour of the child.

It is a split-second decision. If the parent wants to give in, do it before the explosion. Not as an afterthought.

5. Don’t reason with the child. Again, this could and would have been done earlier to avoid the situation. But, the fact that it has happened means either the reasoning has failed or the moment has gone to engage in a dialogue.

Come to think of it. When an adult is in a fury, s/he would not listen to anyone. How does one expect a child to do this? Not a worthwhile proposition.

6. Don’t leave the child alone. When the child is angry, s/he is the most vulnerable and needs emotional support. How can anyone be left alone at the moment of crisis?

Again, consider an adult in a child’s shoe of being infuriated. The adult needs a venting out, more so for a child. A child’s healing can never happen in isolation. But, only with a helping hand, body and soul of a parent.

7. Don’t trivialize and laugh out. It is a matter of life and death for the child that s/he is in a rage. Belittling and playing down his/her emotions is only going to make the hurt ingrained further.

8. Don’t remind the child of the previous temper tantrums. This will be adding fuel to the fire.

9. Don’t show and give examples of other children. How would an aggrieved adult feel when given an example of an irrelevant another adult? It is a foot in the mouth, with the additional negative of damaging the self-image of the child.

10. Don’t hit the child. A non-negotiable.

The simple way of arriving at all the don’ts is to think of what an adult would not want to be done to herself/himself when mad with anger. One cannot do with a child, what one does not want to be done to one’s self.

So, what to do with a furious and rampant child? I have only one suggestion.

Hug the child. Keep hugging the child till the moment passes through. Keep comforting the child. That’s it. Basis self-experience, this is the only mechanism I have to deal with temper tantrums of my twin daughters.

To be honest, it is easier said than done. I just keep telling myself that whatever else I do is going to worsen the situation, so keep quiet and just hug the girl throwing up.

The objective is to help the child identify, know and manage her/his emotions better. It is essential learning for children and also, the parents in growing up together.

What would be your suggestions to deal with temper tantrums?

PS: I also try and remember the trigger of the temper tantrums to avoid the history repeating itself.

A Parent’s Guide To Deal With Temper Tantrums

Parenting is bliss and fulfilment. Parenting is joy and happiness. It is, of course, much more than what words can describe. Along with all these, parenting is also frustration and anguish. Parenting is misery and distress. You do not believe me? Ask a parent who has just endured temper tantrums.

Temper tantrums come in all shapes and sizes. It can strike at any time and any place. A child is at the best behaviour possible, you are marvelling at your parenting skills, everything is so peaceful and serene, and suddenly, out of nowhere, the lightning, I mean the temper tantrum, strikes. The effects leave the parent’s world turned upside down for the foreseeable future of half an hour.

After all, what is this temper tantrum of a child? Why does this have to happen? How to deal with it? Is there an easy way out? I qualify as being a stay-at-home father to twin daughters. Basis of my fair share of the goodies, below are my views on the subject.

Temper tantrums as fait accompli

First and foremost, a parent has to admit and accept that the temper tantrums are bound to happen. It is a part and parcel of the child’s growing up process. No childhood, and hence no parenting will ever be complete without the temper tantrums. Being in denial about its existence will only lead to poor preparations to deal with it. Better to admit and train yourself for the inevitable.

Secondly, temper tantrums are not a statement about a parent or the child. The meltdown is a part of the growing up process of the child and the parent, too. An occurrence that helps to build on the emotional capabilities of the child and the parent cannot be looked down upon. Of course, it is not an event to look forward to; but an event, once it happens, to be taken learning from and move on.

Once the parent has accepted the temper tantrums as a predestined and a non-judgemental affair, it will be a tad easier to deal with it. We can focus our energies on dealing with the issue and not refute that the sun rises in the east.

Prevention is better than cure

We might feel that the temper tantrums of the kid have reared out of nowhere, for no reasons. However, there will always be an underlying cause. There will always be a trigger. There will be ominous signs of the storm. The crux is to identify these warning signals and address them before they turn into a full-fledged eruption.

A. Keep the child well-fed and well-rested. Ideally, the kid should say when s/he is hungry/thirsty/tired. But, the child, many times, will not know his/her physical state. A parent has to keep a tab on the time and quantity of the earlier meal/snacks/nap to ensure that at least for these avoidable reasons, nobody loses peace of mind.

Our daughters love to play these 5 ageless games. They can go on and on playing them, without a sense of time. We would also love to let them keep playing. However, basis past experiences, we have realized the optimal time for them to play physical games and then, to take rest. Same goes for food and water.

B. Have a time-table, avoid surprises and give advance intimation of the changes to the schedule. Even an adult has a limit to what s/he can process, absorb and execute. Here, we have kids who have just started on their exploration and learning journey. The more the predictable, the more the usual set of events will not stretch their cognitive capabilities. It will lead them to remain more in control of the narrative and not be yanked out of their comfort zone.

Having a time-table is doing activities within a broad time-limit of an hour, and not with clock-work precision. Avoiding surprises is about not to make them leave the activities, they are occupied with. Giving advance intimation is about respecting a child as an individual, let her/him have a view on the proposed change to the schedule and make the child feel a part of the decision-making process.

It is fine if I am not going to buy yoghurt for my daughters every time we visit a supermarket, as long as I tell them before leaving home. It is fine if they are not going to be bought new toys, as long as they are told, beforehand, that they already have toys to play with.

C. Let the children decide and take ownership within pre-defined boundaries. The children cannot be expected to follow instructions all the time. Period. So, what do we do? Let them choose the mode of transport, route and speed, as long as the destination does not change.

My daughters decide on the colour of the cup in which to drink milk. It makes them feel empowered to choose between white and brown cups and I am at peace that they drink milk daily. One temper tantrum root-cause addressed.

D. Communicate with the children. This is often the most under-estimated aspect of parenting. We might feel that what these young kids will understand. Believe me; they understand a lot, much more than what we think that they understand.

My daughters used to create a ruckus about having medicines. It was a pain for my wife before I became a stay-at-home father. I explained to them about the need for medicines. I do not know what was the trick, my explanation or my luck. Till this date, they take all their medications without a whimper.

Ok, fine. I have tried to prevent temper tantrums as much as possible. But, as said earlier, they are bound to happen. So, how to deal with them? Here we go.

Zero Academic Year: It Is Time Government, Schools, Parents Agree And Act

Coronavirus has been raging in India. The cases are spiking daily. The Government’s strategy is to ease restrictions, as infections rise. However, a certain category of institutions remains shut and is expected to remain so in the foreseeable future – The Educational Institutions.

There is no opposition to the Government’s measures to lift the lockdown. Seemingly, the adults are fine when it comes to putting their lives at risk. But when it comes to the children, the parents are clear that they are going to remain at home. The Government also knows this and has stayed clear of opening up the schools and colleges; even the children parks.

Simultaneously, the parents also want to ensure that their wards do not miss out on education. The schools, too, would not want to be seen losing their supremacy on shaping up children’s future. The Government does not want to be considered behind the curve. As a result, online education has been lapped up by everybody concerned as a panacea to coronavirus induced lockdown of educational institutions.

However, the time has come to question the efficacy and the value of online education for children.

Education as Equalizer, and not Differentiator

Apart from many other roles, education is expected to play an extremely important function in providing equal opportunities to realize a child’s potential. Under the Right to Education Act, every child has a right to education of equitable quality.

With online education becoming a norm, it is anybody’s guess what would be happening to children in lower-income group families, rural and non-Metro households, Government schools etc. India’s programme to universalize primary education is “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan” meaning “Education for All Movement”. Needless to say, “Sarva”, that is “All” would surely not be covered by online learning.

It is up to Governments, Centre and States, private schools and parents of children participating in online education to take the initiative for Zero Academic Year. Would they want to perpetuate the privilege of already entitled students or be seen as promoting universal access and equal opportunity for children from vulnerable sections of the society, that are being left behind in these times?

Education as Learning, and not Grades

The Indian education system faces accusations that it promotes rote learning and puts a detrimental focus on grades, above everything else. The shove for online learning further accentuates this long-held notion.

The children are being told to sit in front of the screen, listen to a monologue and that is it. Is this how real learning, for that matter any kind of learning, supposed to happen?  I am sure this is not how private schools would want to show-case the learning environment in their schools.

The educators and Government need to raise the question if the children, across age-groups, are benefitting by online education. Are the children learning? Would they want to perpetuate the perception that it is only the examination at the end of the term that matters? And what happens during class-room teaching is just a needless distraction/pretence that online learning has successfully replaced?

Blended learning/Alternate attendance/Self-study

Several options are being floated to complete the syllabus, as and when the schools open. The most-talked option is 50% of the students present in the school on any given day. There is a jargon of blended learning, a combination of online and offline, doing the rounds. Some topics seem to be a contender for self-study by students.

June has ended. It does not look like coronavirus is going to wither away in two months. Meaning, the schools are not going to open before September, at best. With schools closed from last week of March, the teaching of the new term would have hardly started. This means that students would just get about six months in school to complete the syllabus. It is just not enough.

The teachers might run through the chapters, but the students cannot be expected to absorb so much of learning in so short a time. Would schools and parents want the foundation of the children to be strong or find them shaky in years to come?

Zero Academic Year

The parents having access to online education for their children might feel why should their children miss out on a year? The answer would be that this would be their contribution to a fair and equal society. No parent would want their children to be a part of society that promotes inequality for children. It is about “No Child Left Behind”.

Anyways, the efficacy of online education is highly debatable. There is no validity of what the children are gaining by sitting like a zombie in front of a screen.

Let the online education happen for those who want and who can, but not the promotion to the next grade. Lest we shall violate the principles of a just nation and the rights of the children to quality education.

Given the coronavirus, in the larger context of life ahead, a Zero Academic Year might be the best bet for children.

Why Lockdown For Children Below The Age Of 10 Years Continues

India’s coronavirus lockdown has had many relaxations. Currently, in the Unlock 1.0, exemptions far outnumber the activities not allowed. The Indian Government has come up with several options to restore “normalcy”. However, all the Government orders, Central and State, are unanimous in one aspect:  The lockdown for children below the age of 10 years continues, i.e. they will stay at home.

Coronavirus is particularly lethal for the elderly. Hence, the Government advisory that persons above 65 years of age shall stay at home is logical and understandable. However, how and why the children below the age of 10 years are getting lumped together with the elderly. What is the rationale for the children to remain confined indoors?

I wrote why children parks remain shut in coronavirus lockdown when they should be the first ones to resume. As I thought more, I realized that it is not just about the parks. The issues and reasons are far more deeply entrenched, systemically and psychologically, that the Government keeps advising children below the age of 10 years to remain indoors without hardly any opposition to this hare-brained suggestion.

Infrastructure for children below the age of 10 years

Have you ever been to a public park with a children play area? Did you notice the size of the play area? Or, the number of slides, swings, see-saws, monkey bars, jungle gyms? I will tell you. We, my five-year-old twin daughters and myself, are frequent visitors to public parks. Children play area will have 2-4 slides, 2-4 swings, 1-2 see-saws, 1 monkey bar and 1 jungle gym irrespective of the catchment. These numbers are on the higher side, with a majority of them broken and non-functional.

Have you ever been to a Government Anganwadi in a city? Did you notice the size of the room and the number of children crammed into it? The same goes for Government schools. Poorly ventilated tiny rooms, dimly-lit or worse with no electricity, the unwanted saving grace being full attendance only at the time of meals; else minimal children.

Even the private schools, except for the top 10%, are plagued with limited space being jostled by a far higher number of children. This issue of apparatus not able to cope with the number of users, children, is chronically present in all the fields – zoo, museum, play-grounds etc.

Manpower for children below the age of 10 years

Children below the age of 10 years require supervision and monitoring. This requires trained and motivated manpower to be present all the time a facility is open for children. This is conspicuous by its absence in India, the numbers as well as the quality, in public as well as a private domain.

There are, of course, teachers, support staff, resource persons etc truly interested in the well-being of children. However, they are few and far in between. The institutional bandwidth devoted to their training and happiness is fairly limited and barely invested in.

Simply put, the manpower required to implement the coronavirus do’s and don’ts in public places for children below the age of 10 years is not present in India.

Mindset for children below the age of 10 years

The malaise runs far deeper. The infrastructure and the manpower can only be the manifestations. The driving factor is that children below the age of 10 years lack the consideration and attention they deserve.

For us adults, a child is seen only from the lens of school-induced existence. Rote learning and crammed lessons get accepted as education in our society. A carefree and playful childhood gets swapped with rat-race for grades and marks.

We cannot foresee children having fun and being themselves. A child has the right to be outdoors with nature is a completely neglected notion. An idea of learning for children when they interact with each other in a non-formal natural environment bereft of instructions does not appeal.

The underlying mindset: What is there to invest in children apart from preparing them for JEE/NEET?

 Summing Up

During regular times, the creaking infrastructure make did with jam-packed children. The manpower managed the show with middling results. Now, suddenly the coronavirus has laid threadbare the limitations of the Indian set-up.

India is not designed and prepared to keep the children safe and happy. The Government knows this, so the lockdown for children below the age of 10 years. The parents also know this, so no opposition to the Government.

Anyways, the coronavirus is not going to change our mindset. The Government is busy preparing for JEE/NEET. The Cabinet Minister for HRD and the private schools are busy with online education charade. Who cares if children below the age of 10 years cannot play outside? They were not supposed to, in the first place, in the Indian scenario.

#UnlockChildren.

Ministry of Women & Child Development: When Will India Separate The Two?

Ministry of Women & Child Development is one among the many departments of Government of India. Majority of Indians know about it. Most of us would assume it to be a department for the welfare of women and children, and that is what it claims to be. Things are the way they should be.  What’s improper or unseemly in this?

Would it occur to you that the name of the department – Ministry of Women & Child Development is a bit out of place in today’s era? Most of us would think what is there in a name? If the Government is doing anything worthwhile and the people are benefitting, that should be more than enough. Why needlessly get into something as trivial as a name and after all, it does convey who the ministry is working for.

That is what I also thought. However, seemingly the naming of the ministry is counterproductive to the interests of the section, it is supposed to benefit and uplift. The name of the ministry and hence the objectives it derives from the name weighs down and negates the very purpose it is supposed to achieve.

Why do women and child need to be clubbed together?

“The Department of Women and Child Development was set up in the year 1985 as a part of the Ministry of Human Resource Development to give the much needed impetus to the holistic development of women and children. With effect from 30.01.2006, the Department has been upgraded to a Ministry.” (Quoted from Wikipedia).

1985 is a bygone era. 2006 is of recent origin, however much time has elapsed since.  What would be acceptable then, has changed quite a bit now. Maybe, at that time, women and children were deemed inseparable that one cannot exist without the other. Biologically, only women give birth to children, then and now, and will do so in future. But, apart from this, why and how women and children need to be spoken about and considered in the same breath?

Ministry of Women & Child Development would talk about women’s empowerment, autonomy and self-determination. Simultaneously, it would also talk about child-rearing as a divine duty for women. Of course, there is nothing to look down upon bringing up children (I do that myself as a stay-at-home father to twin daughters). However, why only women are bestowed with this honour?

Indian society considers giving birth to children as an obligatory duty for married women. The woman’s inability/unwillingness to do so, have severe consequences for her. Even after giving birth, the life for the women remains unforgiving as the child-care is primarily considered her responsibility in addition to looking after the house-hold. If she also happens to be a working woman, nobody can save her.

The name Ministry of Women & Child Development perpetuates this stereotype. If one thinks about the betterment of women, the children cannot be left far behind. The women do not have the right and the freedom to exist, leave aside prosper, independently. She is forever tied down to the yoke of carrying for the family.

Yes, the situation is improving for her in some quarters. In that regard, why should the Government not take the initiative and lead the transformational change for women in respecting her liberty and individuality? The first step could be giving separate identity for the Ministry of Women.

The Men, The Homosexual, The Transgender

The parting of women from being a sole torch-bearer of holding up for a child has other benefits too.

The men have long ridden rough-shod over women and denied her the opportunity to pursue her personality. The perception of child-care being a shared responsibility might usher in a positive change for the age-old male chauvinist mind-set.

Being homosexual/gay is a personal choice. Supreme Court of India has decriminalized the same. Supreme Court has also declared transgender people to be a “third gender” and affirmed that the fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India will be equally applicable to transgender people.

For both these category, their right to raise a child will have to be permitted sooner than later by the Government.

All of the above makes a perfect case to de-hyphenate women and children and adopt an inclusive approach in engaging all the stake-holders for child-care. The first step could be giving separate identity for the Ministry of Children.

The separation of the Ministry of Women & Child Development is not unnecessary nit-picking about the name. This is an extremely powerful gesture about the coming of times.

It is about admitting that women have a place of their own in society, independent of their biology. It is about admitting that raising children is a shared responsibility, again independent of the biology.

What would be your say?

PS: The first step could be having a non-woman minister for this fossilized notion of a ministry. Since inception, only women have been the ministers for this ministry. I see no rationale for this absurdity.