The United States seems to be garnering too much spotlight these days and that too, for all the wrong reasons. After the whole ‘selfie act’ by our beloved Mr. Obama, surely a one of a kind ‘eulogy’ to Nelson Mandela, here comes another wave of ire against the US administration for humiliating India’s Deputy Consul General in New York, Devyani Khobragade, on the grounds of an alleged visa fraud. Fortunately, this time the Indian front has dared to raise a brow, given its submissive stance to maintain ‘friendly relations’ (well, it’s a rather puzzling definition of friendly!) with its partners in the past (the Italian mariners case…the classic example of the ‘atithi devo bhava’ philosophy gone too far).
So, now let’s divulge on what stirred the US administration to clamp down so heavily on the Indian consul? Here is a lowdown. Miss Devyani Khobragade had hired an Indian national as domestic help at her place, however, failed to meet the minimum wage requirement of $4500 per month to the help, the reason…our Indian consul herself earns $4120 per month! Even if we accept for a moment that she was violating the US norms, what on Earth compelled the authorities to detain her and handcuff her publicly? Not only that, which law in the world entitles these authorities to put any individual behind bars along with a bunch of drug addicts for hours, just for violating minimum pay norms! Oh and the strip search part, it is better not to comment on it; the Americans are just too fascinated with their ways of such frisking (remember the SRK episode, a few years back).
Whatever happened to diplomatic immunity, you ask! The States has an answer for that too. According to the officials at the US State Department, “Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Indian Deputy Consul General enjoys immunity from the jurisdiction of US courts only with respect to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions.” Fine! We heard your excuse. But, the Vienna Convention also provides that a diplomat shall be incarcerated only in the event of a grave crime and then too, the diplomat shall be dealt with in a courteous way, a provision which has been very pleasantly ignored by the US authorities. (No wonder the US incarceration rates have been touching new heights in the recent years!)
The Indian stance has been (thankfully) pretty upfront on the matter. Earlier this week, Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar and National Security Advisor Shiv Shanker Menon cancelled their scheduled meeting with the US delegation. This morning, Rahul Gandhi and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde also, refused to meet a US congressional delegation, visiting India. In addition, PTI reports state that India has asked all US diplomats, serving in all US consulates across the country to return back their identity cards.
Well, the backlash by the Indian front is truly one deserving appreciation and the United States, in all humility, should apologise for the mistreatment meted out to the Indian consul or they risk impairing the precariously woven Indo-US ties. Whatever the case is, India has sent out its message: ‘Don’t mess with us’- With Love, India!