Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Grow up India. The law is the law.

It was a day of irony and insanity. Capitalist America came to the defense of a housemaid who was being paid $3.31 per hour as against even prevailing minimum wage of $9.75 in NYC. Socialist India frothed at its mouth in fury and vented its anger, lo behold, against America for arresting a 'consular official' who allegedly committed visa fraud. Indians in social media railed and ranted against imperialist America, vowed to humiliate America in return, political leaders snubbed a visiting US delegation and the Indian government most shamefully scaled down security provided to US embassies. A former minister asked the Indian government to arrest spouses of US consulate members who happen to be homosexuals since the Indian Supreme Court had ruled that homosexuality is a crime.

Grow up India. This is America where the rule of law has a higher respect than one which Indians can readily understand. Dominique Strauss Kahn, head of IMF and possible future PM of France, was hauled from a flight that he was sitting in based on the complaint by a hotel employee who had alleged sexual harassment. Kahn was handcuffed, perp walked, arraigned, kept under house arrest with an ankle collar by New York City Police. Later the case fell apart but Kahn was exposed as a sex addict. His political future crashed. Indians could glumly say "see we told you". The point is not about the case falling apart. If arrests are to be made only when water tight evidence is there most arrests will never be made. Powerful people have ways to change evidences if too much time lapses. Ask the Sankararaman family in Kanchipuram. The point is the police acted on the complaint of a hotel janitor against a very powerful man from a close ally of US.

Check out Rod Blagojevich. Blago, as he was called, was the governor of Illinois. He plotted to sell a vacant senate seat. Note, he just plotted. One morning FBI crashed into his home, pulled him up from his bed and marched him to jail. Jesse Jackson Jr, son of revered civil rights icon and himself a sitting congressman, is serving time for using campaign cash to buy luxury goods for himself and his wife. Jackson Jr's wife too is serving time. Michael Douglas's son is serving time in solitary confinement, not just jail, for drug trafficking. Wesley Snipes was jailed for not paying taxes.

I saw Bill Clinton apologize to the country on live telecast for his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. His grand jury testimony was available on videotape in the local library. His accuser was a nobody yet the court compelled him to give testimony. It is common sight to see US Presidents, during vacations, standing in queue to get ice cream or buy a book and even pay for it. Recently Obama bought books at an independent store and was photographed paying for it.

Devyani Khobragade, as consular officer, is entitled, according to Indian government rules, to a domestic help. That person gets a visa thanks to the officer. In the visa documents, it is alleged, Khobragade offered to pay $4000 per month. However upon reaching US the servant was made to sign a different contract of $500 per month.Much of the case is still murky and details are yet to come out fully. Khorbagade filed a lawsuit in India against the maid. Apparently disappointed with the cut in salary the maid wanted to work on weekends outside the consulate for which her visa conditions do not allow. Also the maid had an official passport not a regular Indian passport.One day the maid disappeared and turned up in an immigrant attorney's office in NYC. Consular officials were called in. Meantime, and this is the strange but vital part, the maid's family including a child were held 'taken into custody' alarming her. This is entirely plausible given the high connections of Khobragade whose father was IAS.

Things moved apace in India. An Indian court restricted the maid from filing a case anywhere else except India. Her husband was issued a notice and the maid herself was charged under cheating and extortion.

Rediff article cites two other instances of maids filing lawsuits in US against former diplomats. In one case, again, an Indian court had prohibited the maid from filing a suit in US.

A diplomat wrote indignantly that consul officers are not paid high and that, if at all, they can only afford to pay $12 per hour for a maid. I wonder why do they even need a maid. Thousands of Indians who actually earn more than that officer make do without a maid doing their own laundry, grocery shopping etc. It is high time these babus learned to live like the common man.

Not coincidentally Khobragade had another run in with the law. Even as she owned a government allotted home she purchased another home in the scandal plagued Adarsh society. Her father, Uttam Khobargade, a former IAS, indignantly said its not their duty to inform about the other home. Today he is even more indignant and rails against the arrest as 'barbaric'. The Khobargades have a sense of entitlement but, for once, met their match.

Today CNN clarified that Khobargade was not arrested in front of her children. In fact US Marshals ensured that she was arrested while returning from school after dropping her children. Strip searching is a routine process in any arrest in US. It is usually done for the safety of everyone. It is not like she was stripped in public or something like that. There are procedures for that to be done.

Indians have a way of whining and groaning when their high and mighty are treated like the common man. When Shah Rukh Khan was detained at Newark airport there was a hue and a cry. The issue was India itself has notified interpol that a terrorist was using Shah Rukh as his alias. The poor immigration officer, who probably had no idea of who Shah Rukh Khan was, took him aside for questioning. I've no issues with that. As long as he was not harassed or profiled its perfectly ok. US apologized for frisking Abdul Kalam though. Again, it was an honest mistake by a low ranked employee of the airline.

US Senator Claire McCaskill once tweeted about an 'aggressive pat down' she got at an airport. When Senator Rand Paul refused a pat down he had to leave the airport. Post 9/11 a US senator had to drop his pants and show his hip replacement scar because the metal detectors went crazy.

Priyanka Chopra tweeted "Shahrukh is a global icon. Get real". Trust me, if Shah Rukh walked in the streets of NYC except Indians nobody would recognize him. Thats why Rajinikant comes to US. At that time I remember reading Indians tweeting 'let's do the same to Tom Hanks'. What is lost on Indians is that in US most, excepting the President, are treated like commoners. Even the President has his moments.

It is pathetic that not many Indians have spared a thought for the maid whose husband and child are being harassed by the Indian state. Indians, time and again, including those in America, have reacted churlish when it comes to Indians facing the law.

Last year an Indian student was convicted of hate crime for taping a gay student having sex and for attempting to broadcast it. The gay student later committed suicide. The Indian student was given all chances to plead guilty and sign a deal. He refused and wanted to go to trial. The trial went against him. His co-conspirator, a girl, testified against him. The Indian-American community, no friends of homosexuals, was livid and there were posters in support of the boy.

Khobargade's father alleges racism. After all, thats a convenient excuse. The attorney who arrested Devayani is Preet Bharara. Bharara was featured on the cover of Time magazine for taking Wall Street to task. He was instrumental in bringing down billionaire hedge fund owner Raj Rajarathinam and Rajat Gupta, former CEO of McKinsey. Not to be outdone social media critics tar Bharara as 'acting white' by arresting Indians.

The average Indian has an absolute contempt for ethics and rule of law. Step into most Indian shops in New Jersey and you would see that customer satisfaction is a forgotten ethic. Sales tax evasion is prevalent in Indian shops. Talk to any H1B consultant they would tell stories of exploitation. I've heard the most twisted logic for unethical practices from H1B owners.

US consulates in India faces very high security risks. To have placed US consulate personnel at risk as a petulant payback is beyond indecent. I'd like US to close down its consulates, maintaining just a mission for sake of continued relations. In the least all visa processing sections should immediately be closed down. I'd love to see how many Indians will put up with that for more than a week.

Some bravado talk of shutting down US companies in India is spoken of. I welcome the suggestion. I ask Indians to walk out of every job that they owe to USA. As it is US companies have soured on India and the world is wide for US companies. India is more a problem than anything else. If Indians wish to take their economy to stone age I'd get myself a Starbucks cafe latte, a biscotti, a comfortable chair to watch the fun.

Indians would do well to remember what India did to Italian ambassador over the Italian marine shooting incident. The Ambassador was detained in kind of house arrest for what a few trigger happy sailors did. Today an Indian ambassador has been arrested over a very serious complaint and much of India is running around like headless chickens. (Thanks to former Indian Ambassador for that expression).

Over the past decade tens of Tamil fishermen were killed in Sri Lanka over fishing disputes. Many times they were captured and even tortured. Yet, the Indian government and many Indians cared nothing for that despite the fact that Sri Lanka is not even a major military or trading partner unlike the US. Today, to protect a corrupt and venal bureaucrat the media, the people and the political class are competing in grand standing.


References:

I got this link, giving the entire affidavit, as a comment on this blog. Sharing it now http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/December13/KhobragadeArrestPR/Khobragade,%20Devyani%20Complaint.pdf

1. Timeline of events. http://www.rediff.com/news/report/diplomats-arrest-trouble-was-brewing-since-june/20131217.htm

2. New York State Vs Dominique Strauss Kahn http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_v._Strauss-Kahn

3. Diplomat owns flat in Adarsh society http://www.rediff.com/news/report/diplomat-in-visa-row-owns-flat-in-scam-tainted-adarsh-society/20131213.htm

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/December13/KhobragadeArrestPR/Khobragade,%20Devyani%20Complaint.pdf

kaandeeban mohanraj said...

Ambassadors are the representatives of a country. Even if they commit mistake they should not be treated just like a common man.usa inform about the wrong doing to the govt of india. It will take the needful action and if is not up to your expectation act. "Trigger happy sailors" you honour them like that italian ambassador whose govt betrayed the faith of the indian govt.you want us to keep our fingers in the mouth. Arrested them with due processing. You close all your visa centres ,quit india . All your pepsi,cola,kfc,mc.donald let you all leave.we least bothered of you. Be careful you have to face all the reactions from our side.yes homosex is a crime in india and we willarrest your gay national ,their shirts willbe removed,hands willbe tied in the rear with the same shirt,taken for a walk all along the street with placard stating homo sexualand after that willbe kept in the lockup with "jatti"(under wear)alone. Because it is the routine in india for such suspected criminals. Be ready.

laxmipathi said...

Ambassadors are the representatives of a country// she was not an ambassador..

B Nari said...

/* This is America where the rule of law has a higher respect than one which Indians can readily understand. */

Its so cute to watch newly minted Americans / PIOs / NRIs defending USA as a "rule of law" place. Trying to be more American than natives?

If you ask the White Americans, they will say the exact opposite. That USA stopped being rule of law country, after the immivasion of minorities like you.

Venkat Krishnan said...

I agreed with most part of the article except the one towards the end. There is no denying that some Indians are dependent on US for their salary and the H1B visas. To use this as a piece of argument that India is more dependent on US seems a dangerous argument. The truth is that India needs US as much as US needs India.

I agree that the law in US is very strict and that it is very lax in India.

What India has done now is to go strict on the implementation of its policy vis-a-vis giving privileges and facilities to consular staff of US. I would rather recommend that India reviews its policy of being lenient to "certain" consulates. There should be a complete overhaul of the policies and importantly there should be a measure of reciprocal facilities.

Let us hope that we learn some lessons from this.

Packirisamy N said...

Indians are suitable to live under kingdom, on king’s rules. Not fit for democracy. Growing up? Good wish though!

Prabhakar Tamil said...

The ending paragraph of this article is the best. India has always protected the Srilankan embassy when Tamil fisherman are being shot by the srilankan navy. Discrimination is a way of life in India.

Mohit said...

Note, the minimum wage in NY is $7.25 not $9.75.

Indians should follow the law and enforce it too. If homosexuality is illegal, the alleged offenders should be tried in court. That said it is unfortunate that we have a law like that which violates human rights but it is the law. Its also unfortunate that in US, you can be strip searched without reasonable doubt that you possess firearms or drugs. This law was passed in US in 80s and was recently upheld by US Supreme court. It also violates human rights but its the law.

Anonymous said...

HEY PACKY views give away the fact that how bad designer you might be.........

you MIGHT be SMART, nut trust me you are not SMART enough to PUT your views relating to 1.2 billion people living in INDIA

YOUR STATEMENT ABOVE IS A PROOF OF HOW BAD YOU ARE AT GENERALIZING THINGS!!!!!!

SO this CHRISTMAS GROWING UP SHOULD BE ON UR LIST!!!!
;)

Anonymous said...

Mr. B NARI

APPLAUD

SIMPLE PRECISE EFFECTIVE.

Vinoth Kanna said...

For democratic country everybody is common. All should be treated the same. I don't know why people ignoring that she made mistakes as per law. Higher officials should follow as per law for better governance.

Anonymous said...

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/18/justice/indian-diplomat-debate/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Anonymous said...

The housekeeper went along with it for a long time. The vanished in June. She got a US visa in violation of diplomatic agreements, as did her family without following standard process or being eligible for one. Her family was smuggled out of India. The US committed Visa fraud here not India.

People rip off their own countrymen all the time. There are plenty of American farmers and builders who hire Mexicans at slave wage rates.

In any case I will buy into the argument if you can show that arrest, strip search and cavity search (police rape) are standard actions over wage issues or civil contracts in general.

In the end this is not about the maid or the consular officer. It is about a poor Indian family who tricked the USA into giving them immigration visas and a NYC DA of Indian origin who will run for governor and is pushing this issue to voters that he is not Indian, but very American.

Anonymous said...

I definitely do not condone the cavity search. Apart from that I definitely approve of everything else the US did.

There is a pattern I notice with Devyani. She is involved in the Adarsh scam. Once its exposed she gets herself transferred to New York. Once her scam there is exposed she gets transferred to the UN. And the Indian media is crowing about how she was victimized.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/adarsh-scam-notice-sent-to-17-officers/article929298.ece

Anonymous said...

Good one.Power controls good and bad.

Anonymous said...

Agree

Ajith said...

not every country is developed country...not every country can afford US minimum wage...so they should have special laws...so you r telling that diplomates from developing country like ghana, india who can just afford just the minimum wage because of the exchange rate, should give up their salary just for one maid...that is ridiculous.....

Packirisamy N said...

//YOUR STATEMENT ABOVE IS A PROOF OF HOW BAD YOU ARE AT GENERALIZING THINGS!!!!!!//

Please, open your eyes and understand Indian Politics in the past and present. Use your head to see, what I am telling is true or not, in central as well as in State’s. Disprove it.

Anonymous said...

Excellent Article ! Good Information .

SamuelPJ said...

Bunch of hypocrites. Article below shows a systematic corruption in their own department going on forever. On name of Justice you can do anything Bharara.....?

Diplomatic Abuse of Servants: Not Just for Indians

http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/12/18/diplomatic-abuse-of-servants-not-just-for-indians/

According to court documents, a U.S. Department of State diplomat and her husband tricked an Ethiopian woman into accompanying them as their domestic servant to Japan, where they held her virtually as a prisoner in their home and forced her to work for them for less than $1 per hour and where the husband repeatedly raped the woman with his diplomat wife’s consent

Earlier this year in Kenya, an American diplomat who police say was speeding crossed the center line in his SUV and rammed into a full mini-bus, killing a father of three whose widow is six months pregnant. The embassy then rushed the American and his family out of Kenya the next day, leaving the crash victims with no financial assistance to pay for a funeral and for hospital bills for the eight or so others who were seriously injured.

Harold Countryman, along with his spouse Kimberly, was a U.S. diplomat assigned to Seoul, Korea. Before leaving the country, he and his wife hired a Cambodian woman to work for them in the U.S. Harold falsified the necessary U.S. visa application to get the Cambodian woman into the U.S., falsely claiming he would pay her minimum wage.

Ms. Kerry Howard, the community-liaison officer at the U.S. Consulate in Naples, claims she was run out of her job with the State Department after complaining about the consul general’s alleged office trysts with subordinates and hookers. One subordinate was allegedly forced to have an abortion.

Chuck Lisenbee, a former State Department Beirut security officer who was being probed for allegedly sexually assaulting local guards, is now a special agent in Washington for the Office of Diplomatic Vehicles, Enforcement and Outreach, according to a State Department phone directory

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has had its share of problems. In the early part of this decade, the embassy paid-for-dormitory for domestics

Former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman was allowed to retire in July of this year. A State Department investigator believed Gutman solicited “sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children.”

takshak said...

Double Standards

The persons who employed immigrant servants and evaded nanny tax,paid less than U.S Minimum wages but do not get penalised and released on mere tendering apology.whether there is two sets of law in U.S.one for influential people and another for commons ? where is equality before law ?

1)Linda Chavez nominee for Secretary of Labour, was the first Hispanic woman nominated to a United States cabinet position in 2001.later it was revealed that she had forced to work an illegal immigrant from Guatemala in her home more than a decade and not paid legal wages to her.Chavez's claims that she had been engaged in an act of charity and compassion rather than employment, and that she was now the victim of the "politics of personal destruction", her defence didn't saved her nomination.but she was not prosecuted and freed on mere apology.

2)In December 2004, Bernard Kerik nominated United States Secretary of Homeland Security has to withdrew his nomination because it was revealed that he has hired an undocumented worker and had not paid her taxes.he was not prosecuted but let off after tendering an apology.

3) Jim Gibbons and his wife Dawn Gibbons was charged that they had employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper and babysitter.Gibbons won the election for Governor of Nevada in 2006 and not prosecuted for evading law.

4) Nancy Killefer Chief Performance Officer of the United States in Obama administration gave an interview to a news agency that at least ten top-level cabinet or other federal appointees had run into trouble over failure to pay the "nanny tax.
most Americans pay their nannies off the books.

5) In the 2010 California gubernatorial election, where candidate Meg Whitman lost despite spending over $140 million. Her campaign was seriously damaged during its final two months by the revelation that she had employed an illegal immigrant as a nanny and housekeeper, and by the alleged manner in which she treated (and fired) the housekeeper.

6 )David Blunkett, a British politician living in USA charged for fast tracking a visa application for his family's nanny in 2004 but criminal prosecution was not initiated against him.

Rajkumar said...

sir
i do agree with you that everybody should be treated the same before the law. but americans have a different rule for white americans and everybody else. recently an american embassy worker who DOES NOT have diplomatic immunity crashed his car and killed an african and the embassy worker was sent out of the country leaving the victim and his family to suffer. is this right. the diplomatic immunity is unconditional and US has the duty to respect it.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate your profound thoughts. But irritating and frustrating to read your ill comments about India. Just wanted to know what were your top five contributions to India to improve it apart from cribbing in blog. I very much appreciate Arvind Kejriwal and other NGOs who do the things and taking plunge in cleansing the society than simply bashing India in blogs. Do something in action sir to improve our country. I'll really appreciate it then.

Anonymous said...

Then india should have picked up the diplomat who bought tickets for maid's family for trafficking and treated him or her the same way Devyani was treated.

Dont BS about US laws. They let saudi diplomat go even after he was caught trying to lure a child on internet. And they let russians go after much bigger scams. This was just their way of flexing muscle and india should have reciprocated the same way.