Hardik Pandya, the former Man of the Year, recently concluded the T20I tour of Australia and reunited with his son Agastya after four months on Saturday. Just days after the birth of his son, Pandya flew off to UAE for the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Once the Mumbai Indians hoisted their fifth IPL title, the all-rounded headed to Australia with the national team for the limited-overs fixtures ODIs and T20Is.
On Saturday, Pandya shared a picture of him feeding milk to his son. He captioned the photo “From national duty to father duty.” Pandya had a great cricket series in Australia, scoring 210 runs from three ODIs and 78 runs from three T20Is. He won Man of the Match twice in six games. It begs the question of should he be at home, or on tour?
Pandya was not originally picked in the Test squad for the four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. That was because Pandya said that he would have liked to see his family back home. While his presence would keep India near the top of the online cricket betting circuit, Pandya will remain off the Test squad. He last played a Test for India during their tour in England in 2018.
Pandya has been away from this family for more than four months. He has traveled to the UAE for Indian Premier League and he was without his wife, Natasa Stankovic. Other Mumba Indians teammates were accompanied by their families, but his family remained at home. During the ODI series, Pandya is on record for missing his child. When he left, his son was just 15 days old, so he has missed nearly four months of being around his newborn baby.
A Growing Trend
Earlier in the season, India was set to play Australia, a contest between two arch-rivals. Virat Kohli decided to put his family before his profession. Kohli decided to take paternity leave, miss the big-time matchup, and be with his first child and his Bollywood wife, Anushka Sharma. The child is expected in January.
In India, cricket players are placed on a pedestal. Cricket is one of the most frequently played games and is considered a must-watch sport. However, Kohli made a huge statement by skipping out of the ICC World Cup in favor of parenthood. Fathers are not typically the ones to go out of their way for family matters in India.
A Change For Equality
In 2017, the Indian Maternity Amendment Bill passed and increased the right to paid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks. This is considered way more generous compared to other major countries in the world such as the United States or France. However, when it comes to paternity leave, there are no national laws mandating leave for new fathers. Central government employees are the exceptions as they are granted 15 days of paternity leave.
Traditional Indian homes see men as the ones that make money, while women are confined to raising the children. Raising children is seen as a threat to their “manhood” and strength. In 2019, female labor force participation stood at 27% compared to 96% from men. That’s why Kholi’s decision to leave his profession to be at home is such a groundbreaking decision for the future of change. More men could want to go down this route and Kholi helped get that started.