DON’T COMPETE VIA YOUR CHILDREN

As I read Nirupama Vaidhyanathan’s editorial, “Let Kids Be Kids,” (India Currents, April 2007), I felt comforted to know that there are others who think like me. My husband and I strongly believe that kids must be allowed to be kids, that childhood comes only once and lasts for a short time.

Also, the character and values we help build in children are most important. Sometimes, this gets lost in the quest for grades, medals, and high achievement.

Kids should first develop a love for what they do, be it art, academics, or sports. This not only helps sustain their interest in these areas but also helps them excel.

We have to find a way to not get sucked into the overly competitive crowd of parents. It seems like parents often compete via their children. It’s so sad. They don’t know where to stop. Sometimes even a simple fun school event like a talent day becomes a competitive, aggressive activity filled with negativity.

If parents monitor and control everything a child does to ensure high achievement, will the child ever know how to face failure and learn from failures? Will the child ever be able to use his or her creativity? We should let our children figure things out for themselves so that they have a chance to grow up to be better individuals.

Nirmala Jagannatha, via email

IMMIGRANTS ARE BONDED LABOR IN U.S.A.

I appreciate your editorial, “Path to Citizenship” (India Currents, December 2006). It really depicts my situation and that of thousands of others like me.

As a law-abiding person, I entered this country legally to settle down. Now I realize I made a huge mistake in selecting my future home. There are many developed countries that open their doors to educated immigrants. Yet I selected the United States because my parents and sister are U.S. citizens, and I thought this was the best nation. My husband and I are now paying for our poor judgment and for not doing enough prior research. Meanwhile, my friends who left for greener pastures in other countries are enjoying real freedom because they are not tied to one employer.

A majority of U.S. immigrants are bonded to their employer.

The irony is, when we are not paid the wages specified by the Department of Labor, it is not the employer who gets penalized, but the employee. We are prisoners of this country, which we cannot leave even in the event of the dealth of a loved one, as we would not be able to re-enter since we are not paid the specified wages. There are no labor laws to protect us.

Our destiny in this promised land is in the hands of our employers. They can refuse to sponsor our petition of permanent residence if we ask for medical coverage or other benefits.

Thousands of unhappy, legal immigrants are trapped in this system of immigration laws and backlogs. The immigration lawyers make tons of money off of us, our employers suck our blood, while the government, which claims to be so concerned about freedom elsewhere, turns a blind eye to all this injustice at home.

Slavery was not abolished in America, it continues to this day, thanks to the immigration laws.

Name withheld upon request

THANKS FOR BARING YOUR SOUL, SARITA

I was cleaning my room, when I came across an old issue of India Currents, and wondered why I had saved this one with Vikram Seth on the cover. Not to say that I am not his fan, but as I thumbed through the pages, I came across Sarita Sarvate’s essay on how she became a victim of domestic violence in Nagpur. Her words had inspired me back then in July 1999, and resonate even today.

Every word Sarvate wrote about her accomplishments, trials and tribulations endured in the United States, and receiving not one word of support from her family back home tugged at my heart. Today, after getting an MBA degree (with straight As), working part time to support myself through the program, becoming an accomplished writer (for Elle magazine among others), and even teaching part time at a community college, I find that none of my accomplishments is enough for my mother or father to say that they are proud of me. Yet, the “apple of their eye” son remains in their spotlight, unemployed, and unable to pass his board exams after studying in India. They are constantly checking out a slew of Indian matrimonial ads to find a wife for their “suitable boy.”

I simply had to write to say a thank you to Sarita. Thank you for baring your soul, sharing your experience, and for letting us know that we (yes, I have friends who endure similar fates) are not alone.

A grateful reader

A LOVELY PIECE

Well done, Ragini [Tharoor Srinivasan]. A lovely piece (“And Even the Dogs Won’t Bark,” India Currents, February 2007) about a steadfast generation. By writing about the personal without sentimentality, you’ve given all of us pause. As I make a note to call my parents, I hope you have many more opportunities to see, if not hear, your grandparents.

Rajesh C. Oza, via the Internet

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