Friday, January 10, 2014

Khobragade: the Essential Follow-Up

There are two essential steps the Indian government must take in the wake of the entirely unnecessary crisis over the harsh treatment of Devyani Khobragade by the US Attorney in New York.

One is to make clear to United States authorities that the easiest way to normalize bilateral relations is to have Preet Bharara, the US Attorney who precipitated the crisis for entirely self-serving ends, tender a formal apology to Ms. Khobragade.

He should apologize for taking action that violated the full diplomatic immunity she had as a member of the Indian delegation to the United Nations. The US State Department acknowledged that status  ex post facto by giving her a G-1 visa without question.

Bharara also owes an apology to the court hearing the case: in a formal statement explaining why Khobragade could not be prosecuted, Bharara said she had already left the country. She was still in New York at the time.

Of course, he also has the option of having US Marshalls arrest him in public on a charge of lying to a judge, strip/cavity search him routinely, and hold him in a cell with drug addicts and common criminals. But perhaps he won't go to those extremes; after all, he's not a Dalit woman. 

The second essential follow-up measure by the Indian government must be the creation of an ancillary support service to provide household help to our diplomats serving abroad.

The service should ensure that all helpers diplomats take abroad receive salaries and have working conditions comparable to their local peers.

This should be done not merely to avoid future embarrassments but as a security measure.  

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