I just read a CNN-IBN report on the Devyani Khobragade episode that made me squirm.
“Devyani’s arrest,” the report said, “has rattled the Indian Diplomatic Corps.
“It is forcing the government to hit back at the U.S. According to Indian diplomats serving in the Western countries, paying lesser than what is actually on official papers is a common practice among the Indian diplomats. They claim that the salary fixed by the U.S. government is too high for the Indian diplomats.”
Indian diplomats say they cannot afford to pay $4,500 a month for domestic help. They say they, themselves, make just a little bit more than that a month.
In that case, diplomats should not be hiring live-in help.
They certainly cannot expect to treat domestic workers like they are often treated in India — underpaid and sometimes abused in other ways.
The row that has erupted over Khobragade’s arrest and strip search has turned into a Cold War-style standoff between two countries that have enjoyed warm relations in the past few years.
Many of my Indian friends are upset the United States that Khobragade was strip-searched. How dare America treat a diplomat like that? America would not stand for it if one of their own was treated this way. I see their point.
But my guess is that some Indian politicians may be taking a staunchly nationalist stance ahead of critical elections to drum up support for themselves. It pays for them to take a tough position against the United States.
Khobragade, meanwhile, has been transferred to the United Nations mission and can apply for diplomatic immunity. That’s not right if indeed she is guilty of a crime. She, like any other Indian in this country, should be held accountable if she broke the law.
It all seems very stressful as I prepare for an upcoming trip to India. I am stuck watching a political match between my homeland and the nation I now call home. Not good.