In our series of profiles of South Asian mom bloggers, we speak to blogger, Niru Kumar. She’s a public sector Lawyer with a long-standing interest and involvement in human rights issues. She holds bi-juridical law degrees (civil and common law), as well as an undergraduate degree in commerce, from McGill University.
Niru served as an intern with a Supreme Court lawyer in Delhi, as well as with the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Since moving to Ontario, she has worked with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, the Commission for the Walkerton Inquiry, the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services (now Ministry of Consumer Services) and the Electrical Safety Authority. A busy mom, Niru also volunteers as a Director on the Boards of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights, and sits on the Diversity and Community Outreach Committee of the Ontario Health Study, while raising her two young children.
Why did you start blogging?
I am a Canadian, born and bred, and proud of it. But I am also a South Asian, and having that cultural heritage has nuanced my life at every age and stage, through all of life’s milestone moments, from birth and presumably until death. I experience life from the prism of these two cultures, and draw value and meaning from both. The interplay between these two cultures and its peoples, both within me and in the greater context of society, gives rise to new ideas, new issues and to a “new normal”. I was inspired to blog by my desire to explore to breadth and depth of what it means to be a South Asian in North America today, as well as to identify issues, to create a forum for dialogue, to explore new understandings, to celebrate achievements and to set an aspirational gaze to the future so that South Asians chart a purposeful course in society.
What inspires you to write?
The idea that the power of a word can inspire meaningful change.
Do you feel connected to the mom-blogger community or do you feel disconnected and why?
The ultimate objective of my blog is to inspire dialogue, both within the South Asian community as we seek to better understand ourselves, as well as to facilitate a richer, more informed and nuanced socio-political-cultural understanding between mainstream society and the South Asian diaspora. In other words, greater connectivity.
Ironically, as a blogger, I feel disconnected from the greater blogging community. The mainstream blogging community, it would seem, has yet to take active notice of bloggers who touch on issues of importance to us all, but who present them from an alternative perspective. The challenges we face as citizens of a shared society, and as parents of citizens of the future, are common to us all. The blogging community should more openly embrace writers who enrich the collective dialogue with diverse perspectives.
South Asian moms sometimes have different cultural challenges and expectations coming from a culture so heavily entrenched in family. Have you blogged about cultural issues?
The essence of my blogs is to explore a variety of cultural issues. I have written about ethnic politics, tiger-mom parenting, new and old traditions, arranged marriages, inter-racial marriages, multiculturalism in Canada, domestic violence, the export of Indian culture to West, and so on. In many cases, I am asking questions to get people thinking and talking. I have only just scratched the surface. Because culture is complex and dynamic, there are many opinions out there on every issue. People do want to talk about them, they just need a forum to do so. My ultimate goal is to create a space for this kind of face-to-face dialogue. The response I have received so far has been very encouraging, so stay tuned! http://bit.ly/kX2vjl
What role has social media played in your life?
I cannot overstate the value of social media. We’ve all recently witnessed the historic and transformative power of social media on a mass scale where something as fundamental as human rights can be impacted. But on a more individual level, social media is making it possible for anyone, who otherwise does not have access to an audience or a market, to find others with shared interests and enthusiasm for just about anything. It is what has made it possible for me to connect with other civic-minded, entrepreneurial South Asian mothers. It is the reason I met Anjum and the MasalaMommas community. Invaluable!
What misconceptions do you think are out there about South Asian moms?
I suspect that, to some extent and particularly by the mom-blogging community, South Asian moms are viewed as a homogenous group with like interests and challenges that are somehow different from those of non-South Asian moms. Here’s the reality: The most important thing we share in common is that we are all mothers. Period. For the most part, the challenges and issues in child-rearing are the same for South Asian moms and non-South Asian moms alike. It is true that some South Asian moms may have certain added culture-specific issues, but it may be equally true that they have culturally-learned solutions to offer! Yet, somehow, South Asian moms have not been brought into the fold of the mainstream mom-blogging community. It is time for us to come under one tent to share experiences, dispel misconceptions and learn from our differences.
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