Middle class Indians and intellectuals in general talk romantically about the excellent social security system in Scandinavian countries. What they ignore is the seamier side of welfarism—which they regard as the undue state intervention that accompanies it. And when they are confronted with it, they scream, the recent instant being the accusation by the Indian couple in Norway that the child welfare agency has forcibly taking custody of their five-and-a-half-year-old son.
The boy’s father, Anil Kumar told The Indian Express (December 22), “The Child Welfare Department of Norway took custody of my five-and-a-half-year-old son on December 13, at 9.30 am, from his kindergarten school. They did not give us prior information. At 10 am, the same day, four policemen came to my house, took my wife into custody, and interrogated her from 11.15 am to 2.45 pm.”
Kumar, a restaurateur, claimed that the action was based on a “baseless complaint.” A former vice-president of the Overseas Friends of the BJP in Oslo, he is politically connected. Sushma Swaraj is anyway a very hands-on Minister. She has asked for a report on the subject from the Indian ambassador to Norway.
This, by the way, is the third such case in the last five years. In 2011, a three-year-old child and a one-year-old were taken away from their parents. They got their kids back only after court intervention. In December 2012, a couple was actually sent to jail in a child abuse case, while the seven- and two-year-old kids were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.
Whatever may be the veracity of the complaint against Kumar and his wife, two points emerge from the present and past incidents. First, everything has cost, and that includes welfarism. This cost may not be necessarily economic, but cost there would be. If government takes care of you, it will also expect something from you. As the 38th American President, Gerald Ford, said, “A government that is big enough to give you everything is also big enough to take everything away.” Even children.
The Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer Kahlil Gibran wrote a poem, On Children. I will quote it in full:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
If we replace ‘life’ and ‘archer’ with ‘government,’ we will realize people are reduced to the status of ‘masses,’ a typical Leftwing term; they become ‘for government, by government, and of government.’
The second point to be emphasized is that if you live in a foreign country, you have to obey its laws and respect its traditions and conventions. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Welfarism has its consequences.