Washington, Dec. 13: Indo-US relations, already on a
plateau on account of policy paralysis in New Delhi and a crisis of confidence
in economic decision-making in India, is certain to suffer an operational
setback with the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, deputy consul-general in New
For several years now, smooth-running the embassy in Washington and five consulates in the US has been a challenge for the external affairs
ministry because there are no takers for diplomatic posts in America except
at the senior-most levels.
Vacancies in the mission and in the five consular posts in
— as in other foreign locations — are circulated by the foreign secretary’s
office several months before they fall vacant and well in time before meetings
of the Foreign Service Board (FSB) which fills these slots.
Because of repeated incidents similar to what Khobragade
faced yesterday and legal activism in cities like New York, there are few takers for these
The arrest and public humiliation of the deputy consul-general
yesterday — she was handcuffed and her daughter was left to fend for herself
after she was taken away from their school — will ensure that even fewer Indian
Foreign Service (IFS) officers will apply to go to the US.
This will mean the mission and posts will face a staffing
crisis. At worst, it will be staffed with personnel with lower mettle who might
otherwise not have been considered by the FSB for an important country like the
where the demands of a vibrant bilateral relationship requires bright officers.
The IFS has in recent years viewed repeated American
infractions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that governs
relations between countries as coming in the way of the work of their members.
In addition, the Americans have progressively been putting
new restrictions on visas, making it difficult for diplomats from developing
countries to bring maids to the US
during their assignments here.
For someone like Khobragade with two children, meeting the
pressures of work in a post like New
York is difficult without domestic help. Bright
career-minded officers, therefore, increasingly opt for posts in countries that
are not so restrictive.
For their part, the Americans insist that they are left with
no choice with more and more cases of diplomats not paying minimum wages for
their maids and houseboys, and in some cases, mistreating them.
An American legal luminary who talked to this newspaper on
background used a popular baseball term to speculate on why Preet Bharara, the
attorney for the Southern District of New York, took the action he did
yesterday. That baseball term is “three strikes, you are out”.
The implication is that because this was the third incident
of the same kind in a row at the Indian consulate-general in New York, the
prosecutors lost their patience and decided that those in New Delhi who have
not ensured that their house in Manhattan is in order — as they see it — ought
to be told that wrongdoing has limits and will not be tolerated.
Ravi Batra, a prominent New York
lawyer, suggested that a long-term solution for this problem was for the US state department to sit down with its
counterpart organisations in other countries to work towards the creation of a
new legal category for diplomatic foreign domestic workers in America, which
exempts them from US labour laws, including, wages and working hours. Otherwise
such incidents will recur or increase.
Batra has represented the Indian consulate in New York in several
legal matters. His most recent success in court was in securing the dismissal
of criminal charges against Krittika Biswas, the school-going daughter of an
Indian diplomat in the Big Apple, who was arrested, handcuffed and thrown in a
lock up despite holding an Indian diplomatic passport.
Batra has just won a second victory in a federal court which
upheld Biswas’s right to sue New York city, her
school and Manhattan’s
police department for civil damages emanating from the incident. That case is
Batra pointed out that “foreign diplomats here who pay their
workers at or near US labour rates are free from risk. However, many nations
are below in US-mandated hours and wage standards. Their diplomatic corps
remain at high risk to be in the cross-hairs of illegality and their reputation
is at risk.”
For the Indian embassy in Washington
and the consulate in New York,
the immediate priority has been to get Khobragade out on bail and ensure the
welfare of her two children, for whom their mother’s arrest was a traumatic
After that, the embassy “conveyed its strong concern to the US government
over the action taken against Khobragade”. According to a media release, the
Americans have “been urged to resolve the matter with due sensitivity, taking
into account the existing court case in India that has already been brought
to their attention”.
The reference to the court case is to a Delhi High Court
injunction in September to restrain the absconding maid, Sangeeta Richards, from
instituting any actions or proceedings against Khobragade outside India according
to the terms or conditions of her employment.
varughese Philip2013-12-14 07:39:07 NewsRaju, well done.
Thank you for this courageous message.
The self styled leaders must stop their policy of stepping on two boats on same time. Please respect the law of this land.
bijuny2013-12-14 07:29:25 NewsI congratulate US attorney's office. Let India be forced to send diplomats to here who has the mindset of any American working here ( no servants at home ) and who understands the struggles of common man ( Indians) who work and live here. These diplomats are just self serving and only for serving their class ( ministers, bureaucrats, business community ) The way they arrested her is to make a good example case and I hope they succeeded in that.
J Panicker2013-12-14 07:22:35 NewsExcellent ! Very well said, Raju ! When these idiot politicians visit U S, these so called local leaders are anxious to take pictures with them and use it for self promotion, and do nothing else. These leaders or the politicians do nothing useful or helpful to the NRIs. The Indian consulate is no exception - very rude, very inconsiderate and all the staff still have a colonial mindset. What is wrong in arresting anybody even if that person is Indian ? Many Indians continue to think and live like in India even after coming to this great country ! Judicial system and law & order situation in India is a joke ! This arrest will very well serve as a reminder that this is U S and not India ! When we support India, we end up supporting these idiots, and they continue to torture us and plunder the country. We should n't let that happen !
Your perspectives are so accurate. Keep writing and all my sincere best wishes !
p t paulose2013-12-14 06:40:39 Newssworgakavadangal ivalkai thurakkatte...
A new Gandhi!... a new Mandela... see this New York Times
article by Thomas
Yes, let us ask this question -- "Why Barnabas Thirumani is
Unique?"!!!!.... He graciously forgave powerful people who humiliated him
-- like Manadela, like Gandhi!... and moved on... Remember the farewell party
we all hosted honoring His Grace’s departure to Kerala.. Thirumani left the
podium like an Emperor who conquered the world just with love and simplicity! Compare this with the day thirumani first landed in New
York in 1992!...
Yes, uniqueness!.. but, the very simple tools were unconditional love and
forgiveness!.... Hope this be an inspiration and model to all of us,
especially all the dioceses in North America.....
CHARUMMOOD JOSE2013-12-14 06:31:40 NewsRAJU ARTICULATED A SERIOUS ISSUE HERE WHICH IS TRUE .MOST OF THE LEADERS BLAME CONSULATE AND OTHER MISSIONS HERE IN THE USA,IN MY OPINION 75 % OF THE DIPLOMATIC TEAMS ARE GOVERNMENTAL WASTE.SIMPLY THEY DON'T WORK,TYPICAL BEUROCRATS,. WE MUST CONTINUE FIGHT AGIANST THEIR BAD ATTITUDE AGAINST THE INDIANS AT THE INDIAN MISSIONS.EVERYTHING TRHEY OUT SOURCE AND GIVING FAVORS FOR FEW PREVILAGED SECTOR PEOPLE FROM INDIA.
SECONDLY WE DID THE RIGHT THING TO PROTEST THE ARREST OF A DIPLOMAT.
WE ONLY QUSTIONED THE PROCEDURE FOR ARRESTING ,WHICH RESUTED IN TARNIISHING THE IMAGE OF A LARGE DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY. WE CAN'T TOLERATE THAT .
I FULLY AGREE WITH RAJU THIS TIME COMMUNITY MUST THINK IN TERMS OF STAGING A PROTEST IN FRONT OF US ATTORNEY'S ATTORNY GENERAL'S OFFICE.
TALKING IS CHEAP WE HAVE TO FOLLOW THE PROCEDURES TO GET PERMISSION FROM MANY PRECINTS AND TOWN HALLS.
WE MUST MAKE AWARENESS TO AVOID THE REPEAT OFFENCES FROM INDIAN DIPLOMATS.THERE ARE 100 PLUS MAIDS BROUGHT TO NEW YORK ALONE WITH SIMULAR FAKE CONTRACT SITUATION. WE STRUGGLE HERE TO MEET OUR ENDS
THESE DIPLOMAT STAFF HOLDS A FLOOR EACH WITH SERVANT QUARTERS MOSTLY IN PENTHOUSE TYPE SUITES.
എസ്കെ2013-12-14 06:28:12 Newsഇതുപോലെ കുറെ നയ തന്ത്രക്കാരും ഇന്ത്യന് കാശുകാരും ഇവിടെയുണ്ട്. പാവപ്പെട്ടവരെ നാട്ടില് നിന്ന് കൊണ്ടുവന്ന് അടിമപ്പണി ചെയ്യിക്കുക. വാ തുറന്നാല് പറയുന്നത് പതിനായിരം വര്ഷം പഴയ ആര്ഷസംക്കാരം കാണിക്കുന്നത് ചെറ്റത്തരം.
kootathil chavitti2013-12-14 06:28:08 Newsവിവരം ഉള്ള ഒരുതനെങ്ങിലും ഉണ്ടല്ലോ സന്തോഷം.. Why the hell we protest against the arrest what about the human rights of the woman who was tortured, she is not indian?
benny2013-12-14 06:14:29 NewsDear Jose, our native land needs the energy of creative and potential people like you. I have some ethical problem with Britass. Yes, hope hsi new "vebture" is good for the Keala people.
An NRI2013-12-14 05:46:17 NewsWhy do these diplomats even have to bring servants from India?. Is it because they used to it?. They should stop doing this and live like most of the people here. Use the maid services over here. If they can not afford it aor don't want to do this go back to India or choose another country where they can live with 10 or 20 servants. Yes, the way the arrest was made is not the right thing and it should have been avoided. The strange thing is the consulate people does not share any of our concern but the pravasi' do the other way.