USA has a questionable reputation for arm twisting fellow countries to get its end. It has also been known to cause embarrassments, indiscretions and basically be a bully. The latest episode about the treatment of Indian Diplomat Devyani Khobragade is a case of pure American jingoistic tendencies when dealing with members of countries who are “less” powerful.
The case against Devyani Khobragade stands in two alleged counts – first for filling in false information in the visa application of her domestic help Sangeeta Richards and second for paying her a salary less than the stated minimum wages allowed as per American Labour Laws. The cause of disagreement here is the manner in which these alleged misdemeanours on the part of Mrs. Kohbragade were treated. As per the Indian policymakers, their American counterpart went against the diplomatic immunity provisions of the Vienna Convention.
Mrs. Khobragade was handcuffed and arrested outside her daughter’s school. Thereafter, she was strip-searched, medically examined and swabs were obtained as part of the investigation. She was kept in a prison cell with common criminals, such as drug-peddlers and thieves, to add insult to injury. On receiving protests from the Indian government, the American authorities simply responded that routine procedures were being followed and diplomatic immunity extended to Devyani Khobragade, who holds the post of Deputy Consul General, is restricted only to the extent that it does not affect her diplomatic duties.
Mrs Devyani Khobragade is currently out on a $250,000 bail and has resumed her regular Consul duties, but is deeply traumatised by the whole experience. What aggravated the situation was the American response to the entire incident when the US state department spokesperson Marie Harf said, “We understand that this is a sensitive issue for many in India. Accordingly, we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all appropriate procedures were followed and every opportunity for courtesy was extended.”
It is impressive how the political and bureaucratic class has reacted to the case by showing solidarity towards the aggrieved diplomat and are strongly condemning the role played by their American counterpart. Even if Mrs. Khobragade were proven guilty, considering her position as a representative of the Indian Government, the American Government should have dealt with the case sensitively. Its affront to Devyani Khobragade is also an affront to India and speaks clearly of the status it is assigning the country.
Over the past year, many American acts, such as the National Security Agency’s heightened surveillance without requisite permissions that were brought out by Edward Snowden, have been globally condemned.