So the US has refused to apologise over the Devyani Khobragade incident after days of debates, counter-points and a proxy war that has drawn in millions who have jumped in with their two cents.
Which means either the Indian government now blinks or we are in for some more rounds of posturing.
In between some rationale thinking, some jingoism over the patriotic pride of both countries and some mere chest-beating tit-for-tat, there have been a few sensible voices which need to be looked at, to at least have a meaningful process or learn for the future.
When news first flashed that a diplomat has been charged by the name of Devyani Khobragade, I did not know her and my retort was, “if she is related to Uttam Khobragade then I will not be surprised at her predicament”. She, indeed, was the daughter of a corrupt bureaucrat whose days at Mantralaya were not without some stormy episodes in the early 2000s.
For argument’s sake and based on that history which precedes even the fact that she has a flat in the controversial Adarsh building, let us then deem her guilty until proven innocent.
Why then are we up in rage over a tainted official?
Unlike the patriotic individuals out there who are saying ‘Down with imperialism’, one would hope it is not that out there in the cyberspace.
The problem, once again, is the double standards of the United States. If there was a case of human rights against Ms Khobragade, why did the US not register a police complaint when Ms Khobragade wanted to file a missing complaint? If the complaint can be filed only by a family member, as they initially said, how do they respond to 911 calls by even crank people without affirming the who’s and what’s?
For the ignorant of us, one would rely on counsels such as Preet Bharara to know the facts and assume that he knows the better. Trouble is while, according to him the US followed the protocol and did not strip search the diplomat, the country’s own marshalls who actually did it, have conceded that they did. Thank God for the small mercies that they admitted that.
There are errors from both sides, that the rule books are flying back and forth in trying to outdo each other.
On the other hand, still giving the benefit of doubt at this point to the US, is the list of coincidences and history behind the incident. Weigh these at leisure and not in a rush, and then decide for yourself:
1) For the so-called sticklers of democracy and human rights is a nation that has de-frauded many governments when it came to their own consular staff. (Right click and open link in new window)
2) The time from June until now was enough for a plan to be devised, from the backroom of the police station where Devyani went to file a police complaint to the immigration authortities, to smuggle in the maid’s family. For a nation, which sells arms and helps promoting war in Afghanistan and Iraq and then talk about peace, there is nothing new to expect here.
3) Most importantly, the development comes in the backdrop of the irritation of the United States over India’s flexing of muscle without responsibility from complex issues such as the Afghan Muddle where Manmohan Singh‘s government is oscillating in the orbit while trying to hold on to power for the elections next year.
4) This government was exposed as soft when they let go of two Italian sailors convicted of murder ‘on trust’ of the Italian Consulate only to be back-stabbed. Now they went overboard in exposing the security of the American counterparts just to score a few brownie points.
Any which way you look at it, it is not just a Maid in Manhattan issue. Her wages – 4,500 dollars or $537 – is not the sum total of it.
Now, if we have some time to take a breather before the next political statement, please excuse me. Our maid has not come, and my wife is getting stressed out.
- Devyani Khobragade diplomat row LIVE: US has no plans to drop charges against Indian diplomat; Devyani Khobragade’s father to go on hunger strike if no US apology (dnaindia.com)
- Devyani Khobragade Scandal: The View From India (world.time.com)
- Diplomat Devyani Khobragades Arrest: Narendra Modi Rahul Gandhi Snub US Delegation (indiatimes.com)