Setting a rare example of gender parity, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP Ram Mohan Naidu sought nine days of paternal leave during the ongoing Budget Session of the House. As important as the Budget Session is, the parliamentarian wrote a powerful letter seeking absence to be with his wife, as they welcome their child.
Naidu's letter, addressed to the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, has since gone viral on social media, winning accolades for the minister. Naidu has applied for leave of absence from the House from January 29 to February 10, as he expressed his desire to share the responsibility of taking care of the newborn and supporting his wife in the last phase of their pregnancy.
"I am eager to stay by her side during the last phase of our pregnancy, and for a few days post the coming of the baby," Naidu wrote in the letter. "In addition to nutrition, nurturing relationships and a secure environment in the early days of a child's life shape it's well-being and cognitive development...Childcare should not solely be the responsibility of the mother. I look forward to being an equal contributor in the care and progress of our child."
Setting a precedent
Even while he was away, he assured that he would follow the session's proceedings remotely to stay informed. But his request has set a precedent to shatter the notion that childcare is largely women's responsibility.
Only recently, Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli took paternal leave during his team's Australia tour so he could be with his wife Anushka Sharma, who was expecting at the time. The couple welcomed a baby girl on January 11. Despite the thoughtful gesture by Kohli, a faction of users on social media criticised the Indian cricket captain for the team's performance at Adelaide on day one. But largely, there was support for Kohli who set his priorities and ended the stigma.