Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It’s India vs. US ( ego vs. law? )

The general public’s source of information remains limited to the mainstream media. Unlike the big shots and the hoi polloi who have the right informants at the right places we have to rely on what is panned to us by the mainstream media.

The ongoing diplomatic conflict between India and US is a case in point. Trawling the online news and joining the dots paint some jagged pictures. Devyani is a dalit IFS and is currently posed in US. Strangely, a section of Indian media is trying to give it a dalit vs. non-dalit cast conflict colour. But isn’t it really ridiculous to blame US for caste bias. Does US really care about India’s cast system? Her father is crying hoarse that his daughter is not a criminal as she has not committed any murder. As if murder is the only crime that calls for punishment.

So what really happened? Well, we hear that Divyani who earns around $4000 as the India’s Deputy Consul General in New York in charge of Political, Economic, Commercial and Women’s Affairs at the consulate, appointed a nanny for her kid(s?). There was some visa fraud involved and some forged documents submitted during the appointment of and transportation of the nanny. Also as per the minimum wage rules for unorganised sector workers in US, the nanny had to be paid $4500 per month. As per their rules the violations fall under human trafficking, slavery and exploitation. Some where it has been pointed out that Indian government was informed about the charges way back in September. Question is, if the government of India knew about the issue why did it not pull up its diplomat and waited for the crap to hit the fan!

In India some people are saying how could a diplomat earning only four grand pay more than her salary to the nanny? To them the question is, is it justified to cheat so that you can get something that is beyond your means? If you can’t pay the nanny why you have to have one?

Devyani is no stranger to media footage for all the wrong reasons. She was also involved in the Adarsh Housing Scam and admitted to the investigators that she owned 2 flats in the illegal buildings. Devyani, who is the daughter of the former BEST GM Uttam Khobragade, disclosed that she had acquired a flat in the Meera Cooperative Society in Oshiwara, built on government land, when her father was the CEO and Vice President of MHADA (Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority). She also said her father had signed the application on her behalf when she had applied for the flat in the Adarsh Housing Society, as she was posted in Germany at the time. Clearly, this person has a not too clean background and now she is holed up in US with Visa fraud charges that can attract a jail term of up to 10 years.

Now coming to India's diplomatic offensive, currently there are two differing voices emerging from the country. Online forums and main stream media are speaking in differing voices. People on the street are actually pointing out the fact that breaking law with impunity is a typical Indian trait and this becomes a style statement for the people in power. She, being an Indian might have overestimated her stature and hence brazenly indulged in illegal activities and hence must be punished. She forgot that in US there is no culture of a call from the bada sahib. At the same time people are happy that India is showing some spine in its diplomatic brick batting with US. But this support from the populace is more for Indian strategy and less for the person in question.

But the mainstream media is harping about the nation’s pride and diplomatic privileges and is trying to stoke some sort of hysteria. This is the voice that is more audible as this section is governed by the powers that be. Media is trying to harp over the fact that since Devyani had diplomatic privileges she should not have been arrested and handcuffed. This is the same media that did not report any follow up news regarding Mukesh Ambani’s son’s involvement in current car crash in Mumbai where 2 people got killed. The jury is still out, literally and metaphorically, and hence the last stone is yet to be cast into the cesspool of Indian diplomacy and media harangue.

We hope Devyani gets full support in her fight for justice, but if she has committed the crimes she has been charged with, then, she must face the law of the land. Let a case of law not become a war of ego between two great democracies.