Posts Tagged ‘US India relations’

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.


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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