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Chinese Parenting Gets Even Tougher - After Tiger Mother, Meet 'Wolf Father'

Chinese-American mother Amy Chua's bestseller "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," opened debate about severe parenting techniques. Now, a Chinese businessman has written about even harsher treatment of his kids -- and of course,

Reading is fundamental (Ernop)
Reading is fundamental (Ernop)
Yu Ge

BEIJING - Amy Chua, a Chinese-American law professor at Yale University, aroused some heated debate last year about the Asian style of education -- setting off arguments not just in the U.S, but also in China. Her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother went to the top of the best-seller list.

Now she has a rival, Xiao Baiyou, a successful Chinese businessman, who proudly recounts how three of his four children were accepted into China's most prestigious university, Peking University, known popularly as Beida. Xiao has nicknamed himself Wolf Dad, ready to take on the American-born Chinese Tiger Mom.

But while Chua's book sparked some lively debate about parenting, Xiao's "My Beida Children" has set off outrage in China. Whereas Chua advocates absolute majestic authority in front of children, Xiao believes "in the most traditional and primitive old methods' in disciplining his children. He oppresses his children by constant scolding and, if necessary, physical punishment.

Madame Chua claimed that she used to insist her daughters play piano every day. When her daughters didn't master a piece of music, they were obliged to practice it after dinner, late into the night, forbidden to drink water or go to the toilet. Xiao goes further. He summarizes his educational philosophy in a phrase that makes a catchy rhyme in Chinese: "Beat your children every three days. They'll definitely get into Beida."

Looking strictly at their final academic results, both parents do seem to have achieved what they call success. The elder daughter of Amy Chua performed at Carnegie Hall and was offered admission by both Harvard and Yale at the age of 17. Three out of four of Xiao Baiyou's children entered China's most prestigious university. They are all said to be well-balanced in every way, as well as talented in arts.

Some say that entering Beida or Harvard does not necessarily equate with success, just as not entering doesn't mean failure. I for one think that we should not be obsessed about what the concept of success implies. Winners have a thousand features, but losers have only one face. Rather more to the point is whether or not the educational methods of the tiger mom or wolf dad are to be duplicated.

Picasso disguised as Einstein

Confucius said "Educate accordingly and individually." The importance of teaching is to adapt to the student's capability so as to get the best out him. No doubt, there is some rationality in these two Chinese parenting philosophies. Some stones can be cut and polished to become beautiful sculptures, though others just chip even with the lightest touch. Rotten wood cannot be made into beautiful artifacts, nor can a potential Picasso be forced to become an Einstein.

Do children have the freedom to choose their own path? Are children only subject to what their parents consider worthwhile achievements? A liberal education not only refers to the educator's freedom to educate, but also the student's freedom to learn. The purpose of education should be about giving one freedom.

In Chinese the word "democracy" literally means "The people are the boss." Mr. Xiao turns the word around and claims that "I'm the boss, you are the people." In other words, his children have no choice but absolute obedience towards him. The philosophies of the Tiger Mom and Wolf Dad are savage.

Of course the two books have both become hits, due in part, to brilliant marketing. Still, there are plenty of parents who identify with their ways of parenting, or who try to gain some wisdom out of the books.

If one looks more closely into the Chinese background of the Tiger Mom and Wolf Dad phenomenon, one would probably understand that it's related to the fact that all of China today is being overrun by wolf culture.

The essence of wolf culture is to regard the society we live in as a jungle. Parents are educating their children to become like wolves, and this is even more the case for the least privileged. They know their children, not being from powerful or rich families, won't survive in the ruthless and unscrupulous competition if they do not behave like wolves.

Who doesn't wish success for his own children? However, from what I have read, Xiao's children behave more like silent lambs than fierce wolves. They don't know the taste of freedom, nor do they have the courage of rebellion. This is exactly the favorite species of all dictators, past and future.

Read the original article in full in Chinese

photo - Ernop

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Green

Ecological Angst In India, A Mining Dumpsite As Neighbor

Local villagers in western India have been forced to live with a mining waste site on the edge of town. What happens when you wake up one day and the giant mound of industrial waste has imploded?

The mining dumpsite is situated just outside of the Badi village in the coastal state of Gujarat

Sukanya Shantha

BADI — Last week, when the men and women from the Bharwad community in this small village in western India stepped out for their daily work to herd livestock, they were greeted with a strange sight.

The 20-meter-high small hill that had formed at the open-cast mining dumpsite had suddenly sunk. Unsure of the reason behind the sudden caving-in, they immediately informed other villagers. In no time, word had traveled far, even drawing the attention of environment specialists and activists from outside town.

This mining dumpsite situated less than 500 meters outside of the Badi village in the coastal state of Gujarat has been a matter of serious concern ever since the Gujarat Power Corporation Limited began lignite mining work here in early 2017. The power plant is run by the Power Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited, which was previously known as the Bhavnagar Energy Company Ltd.

Vasudev Gohil, a 43-year-old resident of Badi village says that though the dumping site is technically situated outside the village, locals must pass the area on a daily basis.


"We are constantly on tenterhooks and looking for danger signs," he says. Indeed, their state of alert is how the sudden change in the shape of the dumpsite was noticed in the first place.

Can you trust environmental officials?

For someone visiting the place for the first time, the changes may not stand out. "But we have lived all our lives here, we know every little detail of this village. And when a 150-meter-long stretch cave-in by over 25-30 feet, the change can't be overlooked," Gohil adds.

This is not the first time that the dumpsite has worried local residents. Last November, a large part of the flattened part of the dumpsite had developed deep cracks and several flat areas had suddenly got elevated. While the officials had attributed this significant elevation to the high pressure of water in the upper strata of soil in the region, environment experts had pointed to seismic activities. The change is evident even today, nearly a year since it happened.

It could have sunk because of the rain.

After the recent incident, when the villagers raised an alarm and sent a written complaint to the regional Gujarat Pollution Control Board, an official visit to the site was arranged, along with the district administration and the mining department.

The regional pollution board officer Bhavnagar, A.G. Oza, insists the changes "aren't worrisome" and attributes it to the weather.

"The area received heavy rain this time. It is possible that the soil could have sunk in because of the rain," he tells The Wire. The Board, he says, along with the mining department, is now trying to assess if the caving-in had any impact on the ground surface.

"We visited the site as soon as a complaint was made. Samples have already been sent to the laboratory and we will have a clear idea only once the reports are made available," Oza adds.

Women from the Surkha village have to travel several kilometers to find potable water

Sukanya Shantha/The Wire

A questionable claim

That the dumpsite had sunk in was noticeable for at least three days between October 1 and 3, but Rohit Prajapati of an environmental watchdog group Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, noted that it was not the first time.

"This is the third time in four years that something so strange is happening. It is a disaster in the making and the authorities ought to examine the root cause of the problem," Prajapati says, adding that the department has repeatedly failed to properly address the issue.

He also contests the GPCB's claim that excess rain could lead to something so drastic. "Then why was similar impact not seen on other dumping sites in the region? One cannot arrive at conclusions for geological changes without a deeper study of them," he says. "It can have deadly implications."

Living in pollution

The villagers have also accused the GPCB of overlooking their complaint of water pollution which has rendered a large part of the land, most importantly, the gauchar or grazing land, useless.

"In the absence of a wall or a barrier, the pollutant has freely mixed with the water bodies here and has slowly started polluting both our soil and water," complains 23- year-old Nikul Kantharia.

He says ever since the mining project took off in the region, he, like most other villagers has been forced to take his livestock farther away to graze. "Nothing grows on the grazing land anymore and the grass closer to the dumpsite makes our cattle ill," Kantharia claims.

The mining work should have been stopped long ago

Prajapati and Bharat Jambucha, a well-known environmental activist and proponent of organic farming from the region, both point to blatant violations of environmental laws in the execution of mining work, with at least 12 violations cited by local officials. "But nothing happened after that. Mining work has continued without any hassles," Jambucha says. Among some glaring violations include the absence of a boundary wall around the dumping site and proper disposal of mining effluents.

The mining work has also continued without a most basic requirement – effluent treatment plant and sewage treatment plant at the mining site, Prajapati points out. "The mining work should have been stopped long ago. And the company should have been levied a heavy fine. But no such thing happened," he adds.

In some villages, the groundwater level has depleted over the past few years and villagers attribute it to the mining project. Women from Surkha village travel several kilometers outside for potable water. "This is new. Until five years ago, we had some water in the village and did not have to lug water every day," says Shilaben Kantharia.

The mine has affected the landscape around the villages

Sukanya Shantha/The Wire

Resisting lignite mining

The lignite mining project has a long history of resistance. Agricultural land, along with grazing land were acquired from the cluster of 12 adjoining villages in the coastal Ghogha taluka between 1994 and 1997. The locals estimate that villagers here lost anything between 40-100% of their land to the project. "We were paid a standard Rs 40,000 per bigha," Narendra, a local photographer, says.

The money, Narendra says, felt decent in 1994 but for those who had been dependent on this land, the years to come proved very challenging. "Several villagers have now taken a small patch of land in the neighboring villages on lease and are cultivating cotton and groundnut there," Narendra says.

They were dependent on others' land for work.

Bharat Jambucha says things get further complicated for the communities which were historically landless. "Most families belonging to the Dalit or other marginalized populations in the region never owned any land. They were dependent on others' land for work. Once villagers lost their land to the project, the landless were pushed out of the village," he adds. His organization, Prakrutik Kheti Juth, has been at the forefront, fighting for the rights of the villages affected in the lignite mining project.

In 2017, when the mining project finally took off, villagers from across 12 villages protested. The demonstration was disrupted after police used force and beat many protesters. More than 350 of them were booked for rioting.

The villagers, however, did not give up. Protests and hunger strikes have continued from time to time. A few villagers even sent a letter to the President of India threatening that they would commit suicide if the government did not return their land.

"We let them have our land for over 20 years," says Gohil.

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