The government has asked for a ban on a popular television reality show where celebrity couples look after babies of strangers for four days.
The Ministry of Women and Child Welfare has asked NDTV Imagine and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to stop Pati, Patni aur woh.
“The children are too small, they can’t say anything,” said Sandhya Bajaj, a member of the autonomous National Commi-ssion for Protection of Child Rights. “It is our responsibility to listen and react.”
In their defence, NDTV Imagine’s creative content head Shailja Kejriwal said, “The parents monitor the children all 24 hours. There is a trained nurse in the same house and doctors on call. We will not do anything that harms the children.”
Modelled on BBC show Baby Borrowers, Pati, Patni aur Woh is a reality show where celebrities look after infants, toddlers and a teenager.
In one of the episodes, TV actress Rakhi Sawant and her fiancée Elesh were seen force-feeding a child to the level of choking him.
Infants (aged one to 12 months) and toddlers (one to two years) being separated from their parents and handed over to strangers could cause physical and mental damage to children, health experts said.
“Even if the duration of separation from parents is short, it leaves the child traumatised and can hamper personality development in later stages,” says psychiatrist Jitendra Nagpal, programme director of Expres-sions India that works for promotion of child rights.
The original show on BBC Three, too, was severely criticised after being aired in 2008. A show on a similar concept had to be taken off air in Canada.