Devyani Khobragade incident exposes Indian hypocrisy

Jan 10 • Indo-US relations, International, Law & Legal, News, USA, Women • 573 Views • No Comments

D P Satish, | Jan 10, 2014 at 02:10pm IST

New Delhi: India has finally managed to force the American government to send Indian Foreign Service officer Devyani Khobragade home. After a month long legal and diplomatic battle, Devyani is on her way back to India.

For the first time, since Independence the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) was so outraged over an alleged insult to Indian sovereignty and just to save one of their own from the US laws, the lobby flexed its muscles. The reaction was unprecedented. The government also played into the hands of the IFS lobby, totally ignoring the plight of a poor house maid Sangeeta Richards, who is also an Indian.

After she left for India, an elated father of Devyani said, “I want to thank the MEA, PM, Media for their support. We’ve got justice today. Devyani is coming back to India now. She has left with full diplomatic immunity, thus vindicating the stand that only Indian courts can adjudicate the matter. We weren’t concerned whether Devyani continues in US or not.”

ndian diplomatic corps wants the rest of India to believe that Devyani is a victim. Its a knee-jerk reaction to the incident, removing security barricades outside the US embassy, withdrawing their diplomatic privileges and finally asking the US embassy to shut its bar and spa have proved that our diplomats can go to any extent to save their skin in the name of national ‘honour’.

A large section of the media also fell for it. Without bothering to ascertain the facts, the media went on a high decibel anti-America campaign.

Many right thinking Indians were horrified by the reaction. There have been much more serious incidents of US insulting India in the past. The media and some political parties wanted the government to act against the US. The same IFS lobby was keeping quite. It was almost unconcerned. They did not want the Indian government to act against the US. They were advising the government not to do what the media and political parties want the government to do. As a seasoned journalists said, “They were busy wining and dining with the same Americans.”

Where was the IFS anger after 26/11? Where was the IFS anger after the US refused to hand over David Hedley, the master mind of 26/11 attack on Mumbai?

Where was the IFS anger after the Italian marines killed poor Indian fishermen? Where was the IFS anger after several dozens of Indians were sent to jail abroad on trumped up charges? Where was the IFS anger after Chinese troops entered the Indian soil? There was a complete silence. The IFS lobby behaved like as if such incidents never happened.

As per the US laws, what Devyani has allegedly committed is a serious crime. She is accused ill treating her maid and not paying the stipulated salary.

All of us know how the rich and influential treat their servants and maids at home. Nobody would be surprised, if we do the same thing even in America? There is no reason for us not to believe the version of Sangeeta Richards on her employer Devyani.

Disregarding Sangeeta’s rights and plights, the Indian government also backed Devyani and even threatened Sangeeta with arrest. But, the US, which believes in equal rights wanted to make an example of Devyani case. It went ahead with the prosecution.

The whole incident has exposed Indian hypocrisy and it’s established classes utter contempt for the under privileged. All of them wanted to save a well paid, well ‘educated’, well off diplomat from going to jail in the US for an alleged serious crime. How can Devyani, claim that she wants to fight for the rights of Dalit women, if she can’t treat her own poor maid with minimum dignity?

Jeremy Carl a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a former resident of India who has written extensively on Indian politics and US-India relations makes a scathing attack on India’s overreaction and silence over the real victim the maid in a hard-hitting piece on CNN website in following sentences.

Carl writes, “In addition to the Indian government’s extremely provocative steps, the treatment of the case by most of the Indian media has also shown a substantial moral blind spot: Few members of either the commentariat or the political class, neither of whom were short on outrage over Khobragade’s treatment, seemed to evince much sympathy for the maid in question, who, if prosecutors are believed, has been the victim of a crime, not the perpetrator of one.

Quite to the contrary, according to Indian media reports, the maid’s family in India were threatened when she made her initial complaint and eventually were temporarily brought to the US to assure their safety during the prosecution.

The deafening silence in the maid’s defense, in favor of a full-throated defense of an alleged criminal of the higher social class, tells a sad story about the reality of power and privilege in India that will be familiar to many foreigners who have spent substantial time in the country.

Indian politicians play frequent lip service to the “aam admi” or common man, but the Indian press is daily filled with accounts of horrific mistreatment meted out by upper-class Indians against India’s “common citizens” (for example, just last month a member of India’s parliament was arrested for beating a servant to death — allegedly over the quality of her dusting). In that context, it is worth noting that this is not the first recent case of alleged abuse of domestic servants at India’s New York Consulate.”

As the US media and some right thinking journalists back home rightly said, the Devyani incident is a wake up call for India’s aam aadmi. India’s bureaucracy, India’s Police service, India’s Diplomats and its privileged class will never fight for its poor. The political class is a puppet in their hands. When their cosy club’s existence is threatened, they stand up and fight in the name national ‘honour’.

Whatever may be the truth in Devyani case, Indian government must conduct an independent inquiry into the whole incident. If Devyani is found guilty, she should face the Indian laws, which is not an ‘insult’ to our sovereignty.

Poor house maid Sangeeta Richards, who is now facing an uncertain future in the US, must also get justice. After all, our Constitution says that all are equal. In a real democracy, poor and helpless people should be more equal than the rich and powerful.


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