We've always maintained that Indians know more about the world than the world knows about Indians. Case in point: if some busy body here finds a Norwegian couple making their children eat their meals with a knife and fork and - horror of horrors! - have toddlers sleeping in the next room in an ergonomically designed cot, there won't be any problem. Barring some aunty-jis making disapproving noises about older Norwegians snogging in their living rooms in India without drawing the curtains, such cultural nuances will be considered as, well, 'Norwegian' or 'European' and that will be that.
But the reverse clearly doesn't work. Norwegians apparently won't stand for 'non-Norwegian ways of living' even if it means parents bringing up their kids well within the norms of the law but in their own traditional way. The children of an Indian couple were taken away from them by Norway's Child Protective Services and placed in foster care eight months ago. Did the parents beat the kids? No Did they practise secret occult thingummies on them? No. The parents were guilty of feeding their children with hands and for letting them sleep with their parents in the same bed. [Stunned no-reaction from our end.]
The Indian government has now demanded its Norwegian counterpart to release the two children of the NRI couple. Oslo has just stated that it hopes for an "acceptable" settlement, without giving any time frame. Now we understand that Norway, as probably other European countries, are nervous about any signs of differences in child-rearing. Any country would be extra careful considering that the horrible case of Josef Fritzl involving an Austrian man imprisoning his daughter for 24 years and fathering seven of her children happened in Europe. And considering that Indians do go overboard with smothering their 'kids' - even after the latter are well past puberty - with love, a cross-cultural misundertanding could have happened. But then, once Norwegians get a nice hug and understand that the world has different methods of rearing children, they should return the couple's kids to them. Pronto.