Thursday, December 19, 2013

Izzat ka sawal hai

(It is a question of honor...)

Watching the oldest and biggest democracies of this planet at loggerheads on some petty issue, one sees how politics can become counter productive at times. Neither American interests are served well when one of the strongest countries in Asia which can be part of a coalition that is counter weight to ever expanding Chinese sphere of influence; is unhappy with America. Nor Indians are served well when instead of common Indians holding feet of their politician's to fire for corruption and stalled economy; Indian Media creates 'frenzy' about some storm in a tea cup.

One can understand the political need of a developing country like India where centuries old domination by Western and foreign forces is to be overcome in mere decades. Yes, people are bound to be over sensitive when for decades 'miseries' of the country have been blamed on 'cunning Foreigners and exploitative ferengis' (that is India's History education...). But when India and her Media give prominence to a 'cavity search' of an elite Indian women at some 10,000 miles away for her mistakes while forgetting that five cops raped a sixteen year old girl at gunpoint in India; one has to question the moral compass of those who claim to represent over Billion People.

Enough has been said and criticized about extravagant expectations of special treatment by Indian elites. So when this exaggerated sense of entitlement collides with cold realities of beyond borders; their world comes crashing down. (Yup, I have paid my wages and have gone through the same humbling experiences while I settling in USA even though I did not have that much privileged up-bringing in India to start with.) It is all fine for one Devyani Khobragde as an individual that her sense of entitlement crashes to ground. But it is disservice from ruling Congress Party to gin this crisis to paper over its own failures in winning elections because it fails to solve problems of her own people or for BJP to smell one more opportunity to stoke testosterone of its base in the name of patriotism. Even newly minted AAP is like a dear caught in light and unable to think through what is taking place here. Quite possibly AAP can fall for blind and misleading 'nationalistic emotion rousing. I am not sure AAP has the wisdom at this point to realize that 'not joining' the bandwagon is the precise diffrentiator for the party to further consolidate its credibility among common Indians.

Preet Bharara - he could be possibly at the pinnacle of his popularity among Indian Americans. He is one individual who has balls to take on billionaire law breakers from Wall Street. You cannot get any more progressive than Preet even in times of the first black president. He is such a diamond and platinum material politically among Democrats. But....I suspect he could have been more circumspect in this matter like keep prosecuting Khobragade without any of the drama.

Or is it that Bharara concluding such a 'public humiliation' of a diplomat from an over conscious country like India as the only way to highlight flagrant violation of immigration and minimum wage laws in this country? Or is it that 'by taking on one of his own type' he is shoring up his credentials among whites of New York State for a higher office? Politics is such a poisonous profession that one can never underestimate what the desire to higher offices would lead public officials to do.

But the problem with America is not just of possible ambitions of one Preet Bharara. America routinely considers herself that 'shining city on the hill' and expects special treatments to her diplomats like claiming immunity even when her non-diplomat kills native country men in Pakistan. I am not talking about special security America's embassies enjoy in India. That is really reflection of 'poor security' situation in India and not of much high accord to USA diplomats. After all, providing security to foreign diplomats is the 'sole responsibility' of the host nation. You need only 'one sentry' to protect an Indian mission in a USA city while huge barricades to protect American embassy in your capital city; that is all function of prevailing security situation in respective countries. To read into all these security arrangements some kind of hierarchy of 'darbar' - that is the problem of Indians for which no one is responsible for.

What is the solution to this mess then? I could think of 3 components:
- the office which undertook 'cavity search' of Devyani Khobragde to apologize to Indian Government for transgressing sensitivities of a billion plus people;
- Preet Bharara to speed up prosecution of Devyani Khobragade to bring it to a conclusion (of course no games of retrospective immunity; the last bad thing Obama Administration can do is to try to influence Justice Department in this case);
- Obama Admin to pardon Devyani after prosecution succeeds and then let her go with a slap on the wrist (after all we are talking diplomacy here and each case is different).

In the end law of the land must prevail. That is what Barack Obama, John Kerry and Preet Bharara owe to Americans. 

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