India has been an Independent state for over half a century now but unfortunately the British Raj mentality still exists as was proved on Tuesday by Devyani Khobragade. Khobragade 39, Indian deputy consul to U.S., whose title also includes diplomat for women’s affairs was arrested and later released on furnishing bail bonds amounting to $250,000.
She was arrested by NYPD officers as she dropped off her children at school. She was arrested on charges of submitting fraudulent statement on her visa application. According to the said statement she had brought with her domestic help from India. Khobragade stated in the visa application that she is paying her babysitter-cum-housekeeper $9.75 an hour while actually she paid her $ 3.31 an hour only. A perfect example of the British Raj mentality and high-handedness involving the exploitation of the helpless and the poor.
Her arrest started a diplomatic row between India and U.S. with India seeking unconditional apology for the ill-treatment meted out to its diplomat. While the U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Marie Harf has clarified that Khobragade only enjoys diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in performance of her official duties only. Harf added that she has no immunity for her personal conduct.
The government of India as well as the opposition are unhappy over this incident involving its female diplomat. The Indian government in a tit for tat move has removed obstacles and barricades placed in front of the highly sensitive American embassy in Delhi. The American ambassador has been summoned to the foreign office to clarify its government’s stance on the issue. As an act of reprisal, the Indian government in old British Raj fashion has asked the U.S. consulate staff to return their diplomatic ID cards.
The Indian government has also asked of details of Indians working for the embassy and have also sought the record of their salaries. Furthermore, India has cancelled all permits issued in the name of the U.S. embassy including liquor import permits. All these steps are valid instances of the British Raj mentality that still persists in India today..
Narindera Modi the president of BJP and the sitting chief minister of Gujrat who is also tipped as the next prime minister refused to meet a high level U.S. Congressional delegation visiting India and so have other high level officials.
Khobragade ‘s father has asked the government to make sure his daughter an elite Indian Foreign Officer of 1999 batch to be brought back to India safe and sound. Khobragade does no longer want to serve in a country where she was humiliated, as far as she is concerned, for no sound reason. Her statement and the attitude of the Indian government and the media reinforces the fact that though the British have left a long time ago, they have left their roots in the “brown sahib” mentality of the Indian bureaucracy.
Khobragade, is being portrayed as a victim by the government and media. A sorry state of affairs because her domestic help also is a woman and on top of it an Indian, as well. No body seems to be concerned of her plight and ill-treatment. Neither anyone in the Indian Government nor the media have taken up her cause. Do the poor have no rights is the question that haunts the mind of any sensible person. Whatever the case, it is proved beyond any doubt that the colonial Raj mentality is a part and parcel of the psyche of the ruling elite in the twenty-first century India.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada