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US is reminding the world yet again, the old foreign policy adage - there are no permanent friends, just permanent interests. And in true US style, roughing up a friend in the name of the law is the order of the day.

To folks not aware, let me recap: Devyani Khobragade is a consular/diplomatic officer attached to Indian consulate in New York. She is a career officer - Indian Foreign Service (IFS) of the 1999 batch (over 300,000 folks appear for yearly exams and 120 are selected for IAS and 20+ for IFS! - that's for a different day!). She receives $4,500 as monthly salary/stipend in US. She arranged for a nanny from India - Sangeetha Richard last year. Without going into the merits of the dispute between Sangeetha Richard and Devyani, i want to focus on the larger damage to US-India relationship

Step 1: Devyani lodges formal complaint to US State Department after Sangeetha flees. After the State department acknowledges the initial complaint and assuring that Sangeetha will be traced and deported in 30 days, the state department goes back on its words. Instead they quietly change to story to human trafficking and avoid giving any transparency to Indian consulate/embassy on their actions. Why not be open & honest with the Indian embassy about the charges and conduct the whole affair in a transparent manner?

Step 2: State Department OKs arrest of the diplomat and following standard arrest procedure - violation of Vienna convention rules. State Department forgets that she has UN accredition and arresting her was in violation of diplomatic rules. Even without UN accredition, Devyani wasn't supposed to be arrested unless the offense was of 'grave crime'. Is wage dispute a 'grave crime' that warranted an arrest?

Step 3: Why arrest Devyani in her kid's school (in front of children or not is not clear!)? Why humiliate? This is the same nation that let killers go back to their homes after invoking 'stand your ground'? Why not have Devyani report to the Police Station? Why not be transparent in the arrest process?

Step 4: Why strip-search? How do US consular employees like being strip searched in a different nation? Why this "my way or the highway" mentality? This is the step where US lost a lot of goodwill with Indians? There is another Indian diplomat with a case in US courts against her live-in maid. Did anyone in India care? Nope. That's because law took its course & the person wasn't humiliated.

Step 5: Why transport Sangeetha's husband and family to US before Devyani's arrest and in violation of Indian law? Does US think that only in US, laws work?

US stands to lose a lot in this fight. This isn't about protecting Devyani. Lord knows that she has enough skeletons in the closet. India views this as the way US treats its 'friends'. Why US throws rule book at India, please dont expect any better from India. No more immunity from Airport TSA checks in India; no more zero-import taxes on liquor and food (US expats in Delhi are going to be hit hard!); no more operating private clubs in embassy campus; no more concessions on taxes; auditing of school activities and salaries of Indian employees in US consulate run schools. If this is childish, India didn't start with the rule book approach.

What could have been a simple expulsion and a private citizen's law case has turned into a diplomatic row and fiasco. In 30 days, the efforts of thousands of Indian and US citizens over the last 2 decades have been wasted by no more than 10 folks and their shortsighted behavior.

US has to learn how to be good friends; India has to learn not to emotional and stop bending backwards in accommodating diplomats.

Poll

What should US do?

17%8 votes
15%7 votes
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52%24 votes

| 46 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  There is news on this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib

    see my diary immediately above

    We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 07:08:41 PM PST

  •  i'm prone to be biased (6+ / 0-)

    against those in the diplomatic service.  with the immunity available to them, they do tend to become rather entitled fucks.

    hope springs eternal and DAMN is she getting tired!

    by alguien on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 07:21:05 PM PST

  •  Hmmmm (11+ / 0-)
    Step 1: Devyani lodges formal complaint to US State Department after Sangeetha flees. After the State department acknowledges the initial complaint and assuring that Sangeetha will be traced and deported in 30 days, the state department goes back on its words. Instead they quietly change to story to human trafficking and avoid giving any transparency to Indian consulate/embassy on their actions. Why not be open & honest with the Indian embassy about the charges and conduct the whole affair in a transparent manner?
    Maybe because the Department of Justice and the State Department investigated the matter, and determined that Devyani wasn't telling the truth, lied on the visa application, and was paying Sangeetha a slave wage?
    Step 2: State Department OKs arrest of the diplomat and following standard arrest procedure - violation of Vienna convention rules. State Department forgets that she has UN accredition and arresting her was in violation of diplomatic rules. Even without UN accredition, Devyani wasn't supposed to be arrested unless the offense was of 'grave crime'. Is wage dispute a 'grave crime' that warranted an arrest?
    She is a consular officer. The terms of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations does not cover her alleged actions of visa fraud, since they are not within the scope of her official duties for the Indian government as a consular officer.
    Step 3: Why arrest Devyani in her kid's school (in front of children or not is not clear!)? Why humiliate? This is the same nation that let killers go back to their homes after invoking 'stand your ground'? Why not have Devyani report to the Police Station? Why not be transparent in the arrest process?
    According to the statement of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, she was NOT arrested in front of her children. She was NOT handcuffed or restrained. She was allowed to keep her phone, and the US Marshals "offered her the opportunity to make numerous calls to arrange personal matters and contact whomever she needed, including allowing her to arrange for child care. This lasted approximately two hours. Because it was cold outside, the agents let her make those calls from their car and even brought her coffee and offered to get her food."
    Step 4: Why strip-search? How do US consular employees like being strip searched in a different nation? Why this "my way or the highway" mentality? This is the step where US lost a lot of goodwill with Indians? There is another Indian diplomat with a case in US courts against her live-in maid. Did anyone in India care? Nope. That's because law took its course & the person wasn't humiliated.
    She was strip-searched by a female Deputy Marshal — in a private setting. And this is an alleged crime that occurred on United States soil, and it's standard procedure to strip-search every person arrested for possible contraband. If the US Marshals make exceptions for one person, they have to make exceptions for everyone.
    Step 5: Why transport Sangeetha's husband and family to US before Devyani's arrest and in violation of Indian law? Does US think that only in US, laws work?
    In court papers filed in Delhi, Richard's husband Phillip alleged that she was required to work from 6 am to 11pm every day, with just two hours off on Sunday to go to church. He also claimed that money was deducted from Richard's wages when she fell ill, and that Uttam Khobragade, Devyani's father, had threatened the Richard family with abduction and false drugs allegations if Richard complained about her treatment.
    •  in response (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      svboston, Sandino

      1. So, the State Dept is now the judge and jury. I don't have any problems with State Dept/DoJ wanting to prosecute errant diplomats. But is this the way to do it?

      2. Wrong! She is a consular officer as well as she had UN accreditions (temp) thru Dec 31st 2013.

      3. Why arrest her in her kid's school? Why not at the embassy? Why not at home? Why not work with the Indian consulate and prearrange a meeting to arrest her?

      4. So, you will be OK when Indian police strip searches a US consular officer? When was the last time a consular officer was found with contraband substance on him/her?

      5. That's one side of the story. We aren't the judge or jury to pass judgment on the case without hearing both sides. US has shown that it doesn't respect the laws of a different country by whisking her family a couple of days before the arrest. Apparently rules don't apply to US, just others

  •  India is no friend (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy

    We have a cordial relationship with India but the are by no means a "friend."

    She was a criminal committing criminal acts and got treated like a criminal.

    "Why arrest her in her kid's school? Why not at the embassy?" - Um, because the embassy is Indian territory.  

    And arresting her in a public place sends a very strong message to others that crimes like hers wont be tolerated.  How many other "nanny/slaves' saw that and might now have the courage to come forward?  

    Bottom line is if she didnt want to get treated like a criminal and then get PNGed out of the country she should not have recommitted crimes in out country.  I have been overseas under diplomatic status and it is a privilege and a responsibility.  I probably did more to ensure I broke no laws there than I do in this country because I knew anything I did reflected on not just me but the entire US.  Apparently Indians have no issue with her behavior.  Says a lot.

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:35:07 AM PST

    •  There seems to be a lot of nuance in the words (0+ / 0-)

      used in describing the USA's relations with other countries.

      For example, I recall reading a tortured article from the State Department during the Reagan years going into great detail about how New Zealand was a "friend" but NOT an "ally" (apparently a higher status).  NZ's demotion was apparently due to their refusal to allow our nuclear powered naval vessels to dock there.  

      In any event, according to your post India is down a rung below even that.  Perhaps this is a wake-up call to stop outsourcing so many of our jobs to over there. Perhaps.

      •  words mean things (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy

        you are absolutely correct.  BTW New Zealand is back to being at the top level.

        Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand are at the top level as "friends" or allies.  The British hold a unique position with the "special relationship."

        A step down are Japan, Germany, South Korea, Norway, Denmark, BENELUX, Portugal and Greece.  Ireland, Israel, France, Spain and Turkey move in and out of this category.

        The rest of the world?  Shake hands with the other one holding your pocket.

        It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

        by ksuwildkat on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 09:04:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hmm, very good . . . (0+ / 0-)
          BTW New Zealand is back to being at the top level.
          wonder if that has anything to do with that 16 year old singer (Lorde, IIRC) with the hit song Royals or something like that.

          I mean, I gotta say it IS a tad better than most of the domestic musical drivel I hear on the radio . .

  •  Not sure how much the USA stands to lose (0+ / 0-)

    from a stand-off with India.

    Sure, the 1%ers stand to lose a facile avenue for job out-sourcing.

    OTOH, the rest of the country would probably stand to benefit from a bit less of that.

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