India Abroad January 10, 2014 A3 LETTERS
force in the US with managers and CEOs.
This may be an opportune time for some of us to clean
their act. And to write back home to every relative in India
that exploitation of labor is immoral, hiring of underage
children is depriving them of their future. Convince them
to send those children to school if there is any humanity
left in them.
I might tell a real story here.
A few years ago I was in India to attend a wedding. One
evening, I bought some lychees. While eating it they put
the peels on a newspaper that was spread out. After eating,
they were waiting for the servant to come and clean up. I
picked up the peels and newspaper and took it to the trash
A few minutes later after we had settled down, a person
asked me how many years did I think it would take for
India to get ahead of the US.
My reply was, never.
He asked me why. My answer was simple. It is the values
in society that builds a nation. You may be able to afford
servants, but until Indians in India do not respect labor,
you cannot go far.
III W hile some of the indignation over the treatment of Devyani Khobragade is understandable, one has to wonder if the Indian outrage comes from
the fact that no ‘special treatment’ was given to her.
Indians are used to politicians (even their offspring),
Bollywood stars, and industrialists being above the law.
The real danger of the whole incident is pointed out by
Ruben Navarrette in The Houston Chronicle: ‘As this
drama continues, with every accusation and diplomatic
threat, we’ll get further away from what really matters:
The facts of the case and the law that pertains to them.
This will become about a thousand other things, which
And that will be a shame.
Jehangir B Mistry
IV T he prime responsibility of diplomats has to be the containment of problems between countries and to act as ambassadors for their country. Surely creative
approaches are available to address the problems of
domestic aides brought by foreign diplomats under the A-Visa into the US.
I am sure that Indian diplomats are paid additional
allowances/reimbursements commensurate with the country that they are sent to. Why not do the same with the
domestic help, with the Indian government paying them
directly in dollars and treating them as government (
This way the diplomat does not have to pay the employee and may be charged a reasonable rate payable to the
Should the domestic help be physically abused, then the
matter should be referred to the Indian government for
Should the employee decide to become an undocumented alien, then both governments could cooperate by
expelling/repatriating the miscreant.
Underlying this is that the Indian government must do
everything possible to take the action it sees fit and not
discuss legal jurisdictions that arise when the domestic
employee is hired by an individual diplomat.
US immigration should not find it difficult to grant A-visas to personnel sent by India.
The Department of Labor can check on the well being of
these employees from time to time.
This will ensure that timely action is taken by an
independent agency and the matter is referred to India
for appropriate action before the issue becomes a festering sore.
I endorse Aziz Haniffa’s article ‘Unprecedented winter of
discontent for India, US’ (India Abroad, December 27,
2013) and urge that this be resolved amicably and soon.
Scarsdale, New York
VI I t is not that Devyani Khobragade (India Abroad, December 27, 2013), should not be investigated for irregular activities under United States law.
What has enraged Indians most is the way the lady was
treated like a common criminal or drug addict — being
subject to strip and cavity searches, etc. She could have
been treated with more discretion and sensitivity.
Unfortunately, in recent years US authorities have
acquired a reputation for such undiplomatic behavior.
In December 2010, there was the widely publicized
incident of the sari-clad Indian ambassador Meera
Shankar being patted down at a southern airport in the
US, despite airport security being forewarned of her
We have also read many reports in your columns of the
former President of India A P J Kalam being subject to
pat-downs at US airports.
How would the Americans feel if former President Bill
Clinton or George W Bush were subjected to pat-downs
at world airports?
At a time when the US is engaged in widely unpopular
armed conflicts around the world, we might have
thought that diplomats from friendly democratic countries like India would be treated with a measure of discretion and sensitivity by the US.
Indian authorities are well within their right in vehemently protesting the treatment of Indian diplomats and
taking countermeasures to discourage the US from going
down this path.
S S Kere
VII To me the arrest, strip searching (with alleged cav- ity searching) of Dr Devyani Khobragade is degrading, dehumanizing as well as a human
rights violation although it is the law of the nation and
is widely practiced.
To me this law of strip searching any woman should
be abolished especially when there is no history of violence, drug conviction or history of drug peddling. This
law is primitive and barbaric.
Metal detectors are widely used in airport security;
why can’t a similar technique be used to screen an
arrestee instead of strip and cavity searching?
Over the years, many laws such as death by hanging,
death by lethal injection as well as capital punishment
have been judged to be harsh and cruel and abolished.
Even drug possession laws are being changed.
I hope women and men would unite and try to
change this strip and cavity searching law.
Secondly, Dr Khobragade is a diplomat. As courtesy
to a diplomat from a very friendly country she should
have been treated with respect and dignity. It is unfortunate that some over zealous individuals acted in such
a manner, thus jeopardizing close and intimate relationships. This could have been handled in a more
mature and diplomatic manner.
One must follow the law of the country. It is unlawful
to submit a fraudulent visa application on behalf of a
domestic maid and the violator of the law has to be
punished. Hopefully, we will know more about the real
story of Sangeeta Richard soon.
There is a proverb that there are many ways of cooking
a chicken, similarly there are other ways to accomplish
this goal without resorting to a degrading and dehumanizing strip search.
India is known for its tolerance and decency. I hope India
uses restraint in retaliation and that the relationships
between the two countries do not deteriorate further.
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;Page A2 Bobby not the most prominent
Iread ‘What Bobby Says’ (India Abroad, January 3). I won’t be surprised if
Bobby Jindal runs for
President in 2016, but he is
not alone and he is not the
most prominent Republican
candidate that Republicans
would like to see run.
Since a Democrat, Barack
Obama, would have occu-
pied the White House for
eight years in a row, there is
Presidency in 2016, consid-
ering that Americans are novelty freaks and sometimes like a
change just for the sake of change, for that’s precisely what
happened in the year 2000 in the wake of Bill Clinton being
President for eight years.
On February 24, 2009, Jindal delivered the official
Republican response to President Obama’s address to a joint
session of Congress. The speech met with biting reviews
from members of both the Democratic and the Republican
Jindal never fully recovered, politically, from the self-inflicted wounds of that speech. However, he has been aspiring to be a President and would make an attempt even if it is
a long shot.
Meanwhile, a little more than a week after it suspended
Duck Dynastystar Phil Robertson for incendiary remarks
about homosexuality, A&E said it would include him in
future tapings of the reality show.
It’s all about political correctness and money. The channel
suspended Robertson to appease the gay community, but got
him back because the show would not have survived without
All the controversy that Robertson generated is probably
going to motivate more people to watch the show (that a lot
of people may not have even heard of), resulting in a boost
in the ratings.
Of power without knowledge Iread Jagat Motwani’s letter ‘The dynasty is holding India back’ (India Abroad, December 27, 2013).
Philosopher Francis Bacon had said ‘Knowledge is power,’
and he meant it from the individual’s standpoint and not
from the national standpoint.
A nation progresses gloriously when knowledge and power
are combined in the same individuals. In India, some have
power and others have knowledge. This leads to grave crisis
and we are witnessing that.
V K Raju
Morgantown, West Virginia