It's funny how Indian politicians on one hand support progressive ideas like women entering temples, yet on the other hand, enforce gender stereotypes in a very subtle manner.
It may be 2016, but according to Union Women and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi, parenting is a woman's job only. A father's role as a parent, probably begins and ends, at being a sperm donor. Speaking to a popular newspaper, Gandhi said that she was against the idea of paternity leave as many men treat this period as a "holiday and won't do anything".
What does the Indian law say about paternity leave?
Presently, a father can avail paternity leave for 15 days only. This leave can be availed a fortnight ahead of the delivery or within six monthsafter the birth of the child, plus this law is subject to interpretion by private firms. In short, you may or may not get this leave, if you work in a private company!
The law makers initially did not bother to introduce paternity leave as the "joint family system" was prevalent in India. Grandparents, neighbours and women folk of the house, collectively raised a child. But now families are living separately.
Nuclear family is the norm and therefore, several fathers are talking up a proactive role in child rearing. Indian Men are now demanding 30-60 day paternity leave instead of the earlier 15 day leave.
Why paternity leave is not a privilege:
Soon after birth, not only is the mother is exhausted and weak, but the child is also vulnerable to several diseases, due to poor immunity. Therefore a father's presence is required during this period. A father must be the anchor, a mother and the baby can rely on.
Secondly, with rising cases of early death of mothers, divorce and surrogacy, instances of single fathers are on a rise. How are these men expected to bond with a child or raise a child with just 15 days of leave?
There might be cases of men neglecting their children, but is that enough proof to deprive others of the joy that come along with fatherhood? Men deserve the paternity leave and it's about time we Indians stop enforcing gender stereotypes in our society.