Much Ado About Nothing

Indian versus Indian?

In this day and age, there are still deluded people who think that just because they’ve got a few more dollars than the rest of us, and a few more toadies than the worse of them, they can still through sheer pushiness and arrogance, get away even with murder, that they can throw a few bones to the dogs and buy their way out of trouble, that when confronted with their misdeeds, cry foul and express outrage and indignation and weep crocodile tears.

The charges brought against Devyani Khobragade, an Indian diplomat, by Preet Bharara, the US attorney in Manhattan, who is himself of Indian descent, should concern anyone who values worker rights. The charge that Khobragade submitted false documents to obtain a work visa for her maid and paid her less than the minimum legal wage (instead of the monthly US$4,000/- she should pay, she paid only US$573/-) was completely lost on the frenzied Indians who demonstrated in the streets and even trashed a Domino’s pizza joint. The allegation that the maid’s family received threats when word got out that she had filed a complaint of ill-treatment was similarly lost on those same morons who took to the streets.

India officially retaliated on several fronts, including by dragging away security barriers from outside the US embassy in New Delhi. Unofficially, the whole nation went bonkers.

India’s overwrought reaction to the arrest of Khobragade is unworthy of a democratic government.

l’affaire Khobragade shows that, despite its aspiration to be accepted as a great power on the world stage, India still lacks the maturity to behave like one.

Sure, Khobragade was thrown into a jail and she was cavity searched but hey, what do you expect? This is not the Philippines where Janet Napoles, after her arrest for hatching a PhP10 billion scam, was housed in a bungalow and fed gourmet cuisine. In any case, prosecutors and police claim all standard procedures were followed and that Khobragade was even given special considerations due to her diplomatic status. Worthy of note is that while Khobragade has said she has full diplomatic immunity, the Department of State disputes that, saying hers is more limited to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions.

In any case, the irony of two Indians involved in this storm in a teacup is not lost on me.

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