Saturday, January 11, 2014

Izzat Bach Gai?

(Is the honor restored?)

It is good that America did not drop charges against Devyani Khobragade and she was indicted. It is too bad that the prosecution did not come to any logical conclusion. But I guess that is diplomacy where everyone is left frustrated for incomplete outcome while that is considered a way better option than doing further damage to diplomatic relations between these two nations.

On Indian side, there has been a rational self-criticism. Indian Foreign Service Babudom controlling India's foreign policy has deep historical roots in British Raj and British / European Way of doing foreign policy. No wonder at times tendency of this lobby is to throw around its weight arguing for a needless game of 'who is up and who is down'. In fact bi-lateral relations for these Indian Babu's is nothing but 'schmoozing allowed' for these IFS officers overseas. As Indian inter-dependency with global economy and global system grows, as more Indians start holding their rulers accountable as like what AAP is doing; hopefully Indian System will cut down corrosive clout of IFS folks.

On cultural side it is telling that 

"While Americans reflexively came to the defence of a maid who the authorities said was subjected to abuse, Indians reflexively sympathized with the diplomat."

and this is in Indian Media. Any such willingness on part of Indians to consider why such differences in responses arise would help Indians to align with more broader, globally accepted norms of personal entitlements sense. 

The easy solution to avoid such a row is missed by both governments in questions:

- India should simply stop providing such domestic help (imported from India) to Indian Diplomats. The low income Indian personnel who go as domestic help could be more interested in immigration in many cases and many such cases like Sangeeta Richards would arise. So why actively encourage such legal mess? India is rich enough now to afford some domestic help to its diplomacy corps in foreign countries. Paying for such local help at prevailing rates is much more productive investment in cultivating global relations than getting such needlessly avoidable flaps. (Point #6, in this post.)

- The problem with American State Department is, this is not the first time a foreign country diplomat has run against prevailing laws of USA about domestic help. Then why does not State Department come out with a 'clean, in advance published code of conduct' so that everyone knows what consequences are if any breach occurs? Granted, no one needs to reiterate that local laws will be enforced, but being pro-active in not allowing such situations to arise is the real job of State Department. Sometimes hard work of diplomacy is to be undertaken in your host country first and I think this is the 'mess' Sec. Kerry's State Department should clean.

As far as Indo-USA relations coming back to normalcy, burying this irritant for now at least is good; but real movement will come only when new Indian Government is installed in Delhi in the later half of 2014.

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