Indian IT employees abroad, beware! You could be in jail for being bad parents!

It is clearly becoming a case of ‘While in Rome, do as the Romans do!’

Chandrasekhar Vallabhaneni, an employee of Tata Consultancy Services and his wife, Anupama are awaiting the verdict of a Norwegian court in Oslo charging them with ‘maltreatment’ of their kids.

His trouble began in February earlier this year, when his 7-year-old son, Sai Sairam was diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder that resulted in wetting his pants at school. The school identified the reason as his parents’ abuse and threats to send him back to India.

While Vallabhaneni was able to put his children under the grandparents’ care when he took them back to India in July, what he failed to ward off was the lawsuit from the Norwegian authorities. He was arrested when he returned back to Oslo.

The Indian couple have been charged with gross or repeated maltreatment of their child/children by threats, violence or other wrong, under section 219, first paragraph, of the Penal Code and the prosecution has proposed a sentence of 15 months for the mother, and 18 months for the father.

The couple have been remanded in custody, as authorities fear that they will evade prosecution by returning to India. The Court of Appeal will hear the defence’s appeal and the judgment be pronounced in Oslo District Court today.

It is to be noted that recent incidents – including that of Abhigyan and Aishwarya Chakraborty, Indian children, who in April were taken away from their parents, finally returned to India after a Norwegian court agreed to hand them over to their uncle – are forcing all the stakeholders, the countries, the companies and the affected parties to have a rethink on the posting abroad strategy.

While the issue does tickle and rake up the fact that Indian parenting needs a lot to be worked upon and the case could well be treated as a personal issue of the employee, should Indian companies not shoulder the responsibility of adequately preparing the employee both mentally and psychologically to face such issues in court? Could the company merely shrug it off as a personal case issue? Is the company not responsible for imparting more cultural and legal training to employees before sending them abroad as point out several tweets?

 

In India, a seven-year-old kid would hardly be taken so seriously, and more so if he had normal, affectionate parents hitting or scolding him once a while.

Maybe it should become a trend to get trained in adopting best parenting practices while abroad. Would something as natural as parenting behaviors then need to be in accordance with laws in countries where they are posted?

What does TCS do in such cases when employees abroad get mired in legal issues? Today, the verdict will be announced – has TCS helped the employee take proactive steps to avert his arrest?

When contacted over email, TCS replied saying that right now it was not making any comments as the matter is sub judice.

While it is an issue as to which is more draconian – Indian attitude towards parenting or the Norwegian laws – it brings us back to the fact that at least companies should try and go that extra mile and help employees get access to legal aid, encouragement in foreign lands…

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