Posts Tagged ‘Sangeeta Richard’

Khobragade: Observing the niceties – for an idiotic episode

January 10, 2014

UPDATE 2!! The plot thickens. It seems more and more like a ploy by the maid and her family to get visas for the US with US consular officials in Delhi conniving with the New York prosecutorAccording to the HT

the diplomat given “little more than 48 hours” to leave India is Wayne May, a counsellor instrumental in granting visa and helping Richard’s husband and two children’s “evacuation” to the US. … Another US diplomat, who purchased the tickets for the Richards availing tax exemption, could be in trouble next.

 

UPDATE!! Continuing the diplomatic niceties, India has asked the US to withdraw a diplomat from the US Embassy in New Delhi. The diplomat (consular official) is of similar rank to the expelled Indian diplomat and is thought to be the US official who connived with the maid’s father-in-law (an employee at the US Embassy) in causing the whole ruckus.

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Nobody comes out of this nonsense very well except perhaps the maid trying to stay permanently in the US.

But niceties have been observed and the incident will be soon forgotten. Devyani Khobragade was indicted, then granted full diplomatic immunity (starting after the indictment to save face for the prosecutor) and then allowed to leave the US. If she had immunity – even if it was only officially granted on January 8th – her diplomatic status was no different at the time she was arrested and – horror of horrors – strip searched (shades of Draupadi). The sensitivities and the sensibilities of the entire Indian male establishment (who as we all know revere women) were hurt. The Indian female establishment were torn between supporting the exploitative – but female – diplomat and the conniving – but female – maid and her family. 

But the New York prosecutor with political ambitions could not be seen to be a puppet duped by the maid and her family. So he was allowed to indict her before the immunity came into effect. So Khobragade can never now return to the US without the threat of being arrested.

To invoke the analogy with the  Mahābhārata, the prosecutor is Duryodhana to the Shakuni of the maid and her family. But then Khobragade has to take a composite role between Yudhishthira the reckless gambler and the “pure” but insulted Draupadi.

If I have to rank the players in order of culpability it would be:

  1. Preet Bharara, the US prosecutor in the Southern District of New York
  2. Sangeeta Richard (the opportunistic maid) and her family
  3. Devyani Khobragade,  Deputy Consul General of the Consulate General of India in New York
  4. US State Department (John Kerry)
  5. Indian Ministry of External Affairs

Sangeeta Richard and her family will now get leave to live permanently in the US and come out of this best. They will probably get much financial assistance from the US prosecution authorities and various “Human Rights” groups.

Bharara has done himself no great harm even though he has been skillfully manipulated by Sangeeta Richard her husband and her father-in-law (who seems to be the Svengali in this tale). All publicity – even that which makes him out to be rather silly – is good publicity for Bharara’s political aspirations. From his record he will not be the flavour of the month with the Republicans. But he could find a place as a champion of liberal causes with the new image of New York as the bastion of liberal Democrats.

Khobragade ought to have a major reprimand in her personal file. If not for visa fraud then at least for being too gullible and having allowed herself to be caught in such a trap. Her next posting – if she stays with the Indian Foreign Service – could be to a diplomatic Siberia – perhaps Kazakhstan or Somalia. But if she wants to make use of the sympathy wave, her best bet is to go into politics. She is far too tainted to be acceptable to the Aam Admi Party or to the Indian feminist movement. She could do a lot worse than allying herself with Narendra Modi and the BJP. After all Modi has his own issues with US Visas but he will likely become the next Prime Minister of India. And when he does the US State Department will find some way to grant him a Visa and there could well be some collateral benefit for her to be following in his wake.

An incident which should never have happened.

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The Devyani Khobragade case: Ambitious prosecutor seeks publicity while India objects to an attack on privilege

December 19, 2013

The Devyani Khobragade case is causing waves in India -US diplomatic relations but I have difficulty to generate much sympathy for any of the parties involved.

The diplomat: Devyani Khobragade is a consular official and not a full-diplomat and she was trying to get her maid very cheaply. She was certainly subject to treatment which was  humiliating and undignified but the affront is primarily to her pride and the culture of privilege which prevails in India (and not only India of course).

The maid: Sangeeta Richard and her husband (and their advisors) are opportunists who are trying to circumvent visa restrictions and are trying to achieve a more permanent status to stay in the US. (There is little chance that she will retain her job with Khobragade). But the maid’s behaviour is rather suspect. “Why did the US grant visas to her husband and children and fly them out to the US two days before Devyani Khobragade was arrested in full public glare and strip searched? And Sangeeta’s father-in-law is apparently on the staff of the US embassy in New Delhi. A little blackmail and massive publicity  is seen as being a “good” thing in achieving their objective. In fact the fuss being made by the Indian establishment suggests that their lawyer could even make a claim for political asylum!

The prosecutor: US attorney Preet Bharara has been remarkably voluble in justifying his actions. That itself illustrates his clear political ambitions. No US prosecutor acts without an eye to the resultant publicity and his career development and – in many cases – his political ambitions. It is inconceivable that the particular prosecutor in this case (also of Indian origin) did not calculate the boost he would get.

The Indian political establishment: The entire Indian establishment (politicians and press) have had their nationalistic hackles aroused. Their culture of privilege is being attacked. The diplomat was subjected to a “cavity search”. Good grief! This is rape! Clearly a case of official rape by rampant US officialdom on a defenceless Indian woman!! To be seen to be fighting for a “raped woman” is very politically correct these days in India. Fighting for an underpaid maid – who is not from the privileged classes – does not win the same number of brownie points. (Note that a crime against a privileged person is always much much worse than the same crime against one of the lower classes).

The US political establishment: The US is probably a little bemused at how this has got out of hand. Kerry has expressed his regret  and “empathizes with the sensitivities we are hearing from India” but has not apologised. He cannot chastise an over-ambitious prosecutor who has used due process to further his political ambitions. Bharara could have behaved in a civilised manner but chose not to. He himself – of course – belongs to the privileged class of the US.

It has all the elements of a conspiracy and en entrapment (Sangeeta Richards, her father-in-law, unnamed US officials at the US Embassy in Delhi and the New York prosecutor Preet Bharara). For a lawyer specialising in corruption, Bharara’s behaviour is close to being morally corrupt in itself. No doubt Devyani Khobragade tried to get her maid cheap but some “entrapment” and publicity-seeking is apparent.

Interesting behaviour but all rather inconsequential.

 


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