According to Indra Nooyi, the so-called Asian model of child care should be ‘imported’ to the west. So, what is this Asian model?
According to an article on NDTV’s site Ms Nooyi and her husband, did not want to leave their kids with a daycare worker and turned to their families in India for help – asking parents, in-laws, aunts and uncles and grandparents to stay with them in the US for 3 to 4 months to help supervise their children. This is can be summarised as her ‘Asian model’.
I have several female friends living in Delhi – who are often called home to look after the children of their brothers or sisters, and they mostly comply. I have also seen their ageing parents taking care of both the ‘nati(s)’ and ‘pota(s)’; finding happiness or should I say justifying it as happiness. It’s almost like an ideology that is culturally endorsed – “Oh look! How happy they feel taking care of their grandchildren or what else can make them happy or children keep them busy etc.”.
Ignoring all the care they need at that stage of their lives, they are forced back into the cycle of childcare. Devoid of all the modern services, they raised their children with great difficulty, and now in their old age, they are expected to raise their grandchildren as well – as the working parents can’t take care of their ‘planned’ children.
I would like to ask Ms Nooyi why is she opting to learn/try different things, post-retirement, like tennis or getting more sleep, as according to her ‘Asian Model’ she should be all geared up to babysit her relatives’ kids?
Having worked as the CEO of PepsiCo she has been privileged enough to think of enjoying her retirement, but an ordinary person cannot do so – as they are then roped in to practically raise their grandchildren. They didn’t have successful careers like Ms Nooyi, so they lived most of their life labouring at home and their not-so-high-end jobs to run their family. Most of them don’t have the luxury to enjoy their retirement and learn things they always wanted to.
Asian model is a flawed concept; a class construct to exploit the traditional, Indian ‘love and care’ concept.
This model doesn’t demand any commitment from the young men of the family, but it surely looks towards the young women to contribute to the outsourced yet within-the-family model of childcare. This hampers the young woman’s career and makes it impossible for her to be at par with other working professionals and the higher class women within their extended family – who do not wish to opt for professional childcare services, even when they don’t have the time to take care of their children.
If it’s not reciprocal, it’s exploitation. Would Ms Nooyi volunteer to babysit her relatives’ children? Will the richer reciprocate what their less rich uncles and aunts will do for them?
It’s a joke in the name of tradition. Family bonding is not restricted to childcare and babysitting favours; it also means caring for the elderly. At a time when our elders need to be taken care of and allowed leisure time to develop hobbies and relax and choose their happiness, they are made to choose the traditionally imposed ‘happiness’, and burdened with the responsibility of childcare. Why? Because the career oriented, capitalist class have no time to care for their children – but they also don’t want to leave kids with daycare workers. So, they find a replacement, and of course, such alternatives either come in the form of the couple’s parents or other close relatives who are from comparatively lower class, i.e. less rich.
People like Ms Nooyi and her husband won’t volunteer under their Asian model – as they are too rich to be spending time looking after someone else’s kids.
There are other aspects to consider too – for example, the climate, comfort, cultural needs, lifestyle needs, daily routine and habits of these elderly volunteers in a country far away from their own country, with substantial climatic, cultural and lifestyle differences – needs to be evaluated when talking about the impact of this model. As the stay will be 3 – 4 months – it will also impact the lives of these old people who would need time to adjust to the place they are migrating to.
Therefore, I disagree with this proposed model, and I think it’s a form of exploitation. It shouldn’t be promoted at the expense of care for ageing family members, and lack of reciprocation due to class and gender difference.
Ms Nooyi’s Asian model is just another way to gratify selfish needs in the name of traditionalism and joint family. If the reciprocation is missing, the gender aspects are misplaced, and childcare is given priority ignoring elderly care.