Monday, 22 September 2014

The curious case of Devyani Khobragade

This case that circulated the news in late 2013 and early 2014 fails to bring me to an understanding. Mixed emotions after silent observations, I wish to vent here today. Visitors are free to share their opinions, articles for or against, or situations based by facts. Wish to oppose my view? Even better. I want to understand more about this curious case. And most important of all, I wish my views are not right as this will confirm my worst fears, that we are a hypocrite society ruled by elitist group putting up a face of democracy.
To brush up, you can start with the background info on the last paragraph before reading this opinion based article.

Devyani Khobragade, Indian Foreign Service Officer

Sangeeta Richard, domestic help

The charges against Devyani Khobragade were related to visa fraud and false statement, primarily. However, if you follow the news, the Indian news, Khobragade continuously lamented on her ill treatment and her personal breakdowns at the hands of the U.S. Marshals Service, but not on the charges of fraud filed against her.
Time and again, the media carried news of her strip search and being held “with common criminals and drug addicts”, as was mentioned in her letter to her colleagues at the IFS. (Does she mean to say she is a higher, more important human being than the other inmates?)
Moving on, the very, very, swift response from India, who is known for anything but being swift, and the response from the government and high ranking officials fearfully seem to echo that the elite will do anything to fight for their own kind.
Her dignity was of course so much more important than the fraud case. In typical Indian style retaliation, India demanded the salary details of all domestic help, gardeners and other staff employed by the US consulate to check for inconsistencies and frauds. (The message: Fraud happens everywhere why bother about that specific case about complaint filed by some  unimportant person, let alone a domestic help. Right?).
Every time, I hear the unsaid prevalent statement ‘how dare a ‘bara aadmi’ be shamed because of a ‘naukri’?’ I mean if this was not the case why did you have to focus so much on your loss of dignity due to the strip search, which I remind you were done according to law, instead of trying to clarify the fraud case and settling the issue amicably. And in the process why don’t you try and treat the other party (The Richards) on equal status?
I still have one more point to add. Remember the outrage showed by the Indian External Affairs Minister; Salman Khurshid because of the issue of T Visa to the husband of Sangeeta Richard, Mr. Philip Richard despite a police case pending against him in Delhi? Let me get this staright. Why is it a cause to be angry about for a father and children to meet his wife facing/fighting charges alone in a foreign country; a wife and mother, who is going up against a diplomat without any financial strength but relying on the help of organizations like Safe Horizon alone. While at the same time the diplomat mooning over missing her family is publicized all over the news begging sympathy.
Aren’t the diplomat and Philip Richard on similar grounds here? Philip, as was alleged has a police case pending against him, so does Khobragade, is it not?
So ,why is it an issue of outrage for Richard to meet his family while Khobragade missing her family is the ultimate tear wrenching situation. Are they both not humans? Don’t they have same human emotions and love for their family?

Let me not begin to go down the path of the many actions taken up by the Indian Government after this incident. Feel free to Google and read.
[Wiki] Short background for the first timers: In November 2012, Khobragade employed Richard, as a nanny and domestic servant for residence in New York.
In a legal complaint later filed by Richard and the United States government, it is described that before hire, Khobragade and Sangeeta Richard verbally agreed in India to a starting salary of 25,000 rupees per month, plus an additional 5,000 rupees for overtime
A contract was submitted to the U.S. government as part of the visa application where Khobragade stated Richard would be making "around $4,500 per month".
The complaint claims that Khobragade instructed Richard not to say anything to the embassy interviewer about being paid only 30,000 rupees per month, but to say she would be paid $9.75 an hour and work 40 hours a week.
The complaint then alleges that Khobragade asked Richard to sign another employment contract shortly before leaving India, which was not intended to be revealed to the U.S. government. This second contract allegedly says she was to be paid an expected salary of Rs. 30,000 per month with no mention of sick days or vacation time.

image 1: Indian Express
image 2: Hindustan Times