In 2015, then India cricket captain MS Dhoni found out he became a father for the first time – by text message.
“I’m in national service, so I think everything else can wait,” Dhoni missed her daughter’s birth to compete in the Australian World Cup in Australia.
Five years later, the same problem is faced by another Indian cricket captain. Only this time Virat Kohli put his family ahead of his career.
What Did Virat Say?
Kohli announced last month that he would drop a crucial series of tests between his main rivals India and Australia in late-December to exercise his paternity leave. He is expecting his first child with the Bollywood actress wife, Anushka Sharma, in January.
“It’s a very special and wonderful moment in our lives and something I really want to hear,” said the Indian captain. Kohli said his decision was influenced by the fact that he would have to separate separately from both countries – meaning that if his child was born abroad, he would not be able to return home with his family.
In India’s cricket madness, players are revered almost as gods, often with unforgiving expectations. After a great loss, their homes were attacked, their statues burned, and their families threatened.
What Have The Reactions Been?
Kohli’s decision to place his family on cricket has sparked mixed reactions.
Harsha Bhogle, a well-known cricket commentator, for example, wrote on twitter that the absence of a captain would make the tournament difficult for the Indian team, but praised Kohli’s decision. “There is more to life than just his job,” she said.
Rajdeep Sardesai, author of “Democracy’s XI – The Great Indian Cricket Story,” believes Kohli’s decision could set an example for Indian men who want to take a leave of absence.
“It encourages others who may have been thinking for a long time or who may have been barred from their home, to break free,” he said.
Paternity Leave In India
In 2017, the Pregnancy Maternity Amendment Bill in India increased the right to paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks – more generous than the leave granted to new mothers in the US or France, for example.
However, while central government employees are entitled to 15 days leave for fathers, there is no national law authorizing the leave of new fathers.
Minin Dwivedi, partner of J. Sagar Associates, India’s leading law firm, says some companies are committed to providing paid paternity leave in line with the world’s best practices. Last year, for example, the Indian restaurant aggregator and the start of food delivery Zomato announced 26 weeks of paid leave for all new parents – including fathers.
“I believe young parents should be able to choose how they take care of their children,” its founder, Deepender Goyal, said in a blog post. “That confusing view of providing basic care not only divides half of our workforce, but also creates conditions that lead to fewer women leaders in organizations, in society and nationally.”
Simantini Ghosh, associate professor of psychology at Ashoka University in India, says that to promote gender equality, it is important for men to participate in household chores and parenting. He says fathers’ vacations benefit not only couples but also children. “The child grows up in an equitable and equitable family … they have a higher chance of growing up to be adults with a deeper understanding of gender equality and equality in relationships,” she said.
In 2017, Indian politician Rajeev Satav proposed a Fathers’ Assistance Bill for those working in the private and informal sector, which would give new fathers 15-day maternity leave, extended to three months.
“The absence of maternity leave means that child care is the sole responsibility of the mother. A maternity leave policy can help to change attitudes and eliminate gender segregation,” Satav wrote in the proposed Bill.
The Bill did not move forward in Parliament, although a senior official in the Department of Labor said extending maternity leave in some areas would not be rejected soon.