In the Indian diplomat’s case, does anyone care about the nanny?

Published: December 21, 2013
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Devyani Khobragade was strip searched, which the US prosecutor claimed was standard procedure. Photo: AFP

Paying a maid roughly 200 Indian Rupees (INR) an hour may seem overly generous in places like India and Pakistan where the job market is flooded with excess manpower. But can an Indian diplomat play by the same rules on American soil?

Devyani Khobragade had relied on her diplomatic immunity to be able to import her own slice of cheap Indian labour to New York, but the US law intruded her haven nonetheless. She was arrested not only for paying the housekeeper less than half the minimum wage, but also for lying about it on her visa documents.

There have been conflicting reports regarding the way the diplomat was treated. Khobragade has claimed that she was treated like a common criminal, whereas she was clearly an uncommon one, given her wealth and political backing. She claims she was stripped and cavity-searched.

On the other hand, the US prosecutor retorts that Khobragade was treated with respect, and even granted privileges that other people in her position would not normally receive. She was discretely arrested, allowed ample time to make new arrangement for her nanny-less children, and given two hours to make phone calls.

She was strip searched, he claims, as that is the standard procedure. However, there was no cavity search. That would have been pointless, unless the authorities were expecting to locate the remaining three dollars an hour she was supposed to pay the nanny, which was undoubtedly not a priority.

In fact, in the diplomatic crisis sparked by the incident, the welfare of the non-diplomat nanny is the least of the Indian government’s concern. The opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), too continues to fan the people’s rage of having one of their elites arrested over a matter as petty and unimportant as mistreating a lowly housekeeper and her spouse.

That is a matter nobody wishes to dive into, because in the drama currently playing out over the incident, the nanny is at best an unnamed extra who dies in the beginning of the show. In the shadow of the international titans involved in this play, her dignity is entirely dispensable.

The theatrics are amusing

Indian officials are retaliating by demanding the US embassy to declare the salaries they pay to their Indian employees. The security barricades on the road outside the embassy in Delhi were removed and some of the privileges given to the US diplomats were revoked.

From the responses I’ve received from my Indian friends and internet comments made by Indians opposed to the diplomat’s arrest, I’ve identify two recurring arguments:

Argument one: the crime in question is hardly a crime.

Argument two: Even if it is a crime, Khobragade has full diplomatic immunity.

It is tragic how being a regular witness to despicable working conditions and abject squalor has ossified our hearts to the point that we are reconsidering the criminality of paying a full time employee just $24 a day, that too in New York, one of the more expensive places in the world.

Some have argued that since Khobragade covered most of the nanny’s living expenses herself, the wage isn’t terrible as, I suppose, the plantation owners in Mississippi used to pay for their slaves’ food and accommodation too.

As for the matter of full diplomatic immunity, she did not possess it. It’s said that she had only consular immunity. And in the given circumstances, the US prosecutor claims that the authorities did what needed to be done.

It isn’t with glee that I berate India.

Would Pakistan have handled the situation differently had its own diplomat been arrested in US?

Would we not have passed a resolution claiming our guy’s innocence?

Would Imran Khan, backed by the general population’s anti-US sentiment, not have condemned the Americans?

But that’s speculative. What matters is the current situation. And whether or not the US authorities overstepped their bounds, India must sense the world coldly staring at the nape of its neck and updating its perspective of how much, or how little, it cares about its working class.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Indian

    @Author, Our diplomat was humiliated by the US and we value our self respect unlike Pakistan. It’s not a minor incident for us, it might be for Pakistanis.After all Pakistan is used to this kind of treatment by the US. Remember Raymond Davis and Salala attack?Recommend

  • Indian

    Besides if the US laws are applicable on Indian diplomats, Indian laws are applicable on the American diplomats. If we find out that American diplomats have flouted Indian laws severe action will be taken against them. In other words law will take its own course. These Americans will be now shown their rightful place. We will do to them what they did to our diplomat. Why should anyone have problem with that? The proverbial law of reciprocity is strictly in place. I can understand Pakistan cannot stand up to the US but at least appreciate when India does that. Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    “She was strip searched, he claims, as that is the standard procedure.
    However, there was no cavity search. That would have been pointless,
    unless the authorities were expecting to locate the remaining three dollars an hour she was supposed to pay the nanny, which was undoubtedly not a priority.”

    ahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahaRecommend

  • Sid

    Mr Talat,
    Thanks for bringing this up. The domestic help belongs to my state in South India called Kerala. Her name is Sangeeta Richards. There’s been a concern for her around the local media here. But for a fact it looks like she’s planned out everything very well for herself..

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Who-is-Sangeeta-Richard/articleshow/27688937.cmsRecommend

  • Sid

    Mr Talat,
    Thanks for bringing this up. The domestic help belongs to my state in South India called Kerala. Her name is Sangeeta Richards. There’s been a concern for her around the local media here. But for a fact it looks like she’s planned out everything well for herself..

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Who-is-Sangeeta-Richard/articleshow/27688937.cms

    ET please post my comment.. ThanksRecommend

  • grandmasti

    Then tell your US to take care of 30 crs people living in abject poverty in India.My friend,we should talk practically rather theoretically .Her wage was way better than mine.If she had any intention of green card then fine,but why to keep nations dignity on stake for such ambition..Also this is coming from a pakistani,where practice of bonded labor and feudal lords still exist..Recommend

  • Vikrant

    Your arguments regarding the issue of “minimum wage” or “New York-appropriate” wages, and indeed the issue of “immunity” are all well and good. I also appreciate the suggestion that the Indian Govt and political parties are more posturing for political gain, rather than any real concern for an Indian working abroad (be it the diplomat or indeed the nanny) …. but sir, WHY have you conveniently ignored some other startling facts — such as the case that was filed in the Delhi High Court by the diplomat /Indian govt against the nanny much earlier — and more particularly, the spiriting away (no better word describes it) of the nanny’s immediate family to the USA in relation to charges of “trafficking” (alleged) by the diplomat, just days prior to all this coming to light? To make things more curious, the residence occupied by the nanny’s family in Delhi is under the care of the American Embassy, or one of its branches…. surely dear sir, there is MORE to this than meets the eye, and surely is not a simple (i.e. “straightforward”) case of someone “lying” on a visa application — something that you as a Pakistani will be well aware of that we (Indians, Pakistanis and most other folks in this part of the world) have done at some point of the other (verbally and/or written) to get the prized USA-visa — Oh, of course, we just call these “white lies” right? :-) That’s the reason most Indians don’t have any sympathies for the nanny. If she didn’t like the wages she was being paid, she should simply have refused to work and gone home — WHY the disappearing act months earlier (resulting in the arrest warrant issued by the Delhi High Court) ??? And what to make of the fast-and-loose games played by her husband with the Indian Govt?? So sir, kindly DO please NOT make the nanny a “martyr” (of sorts) without considering the other points as well… she does not deserve such a pedestal… thanks!Recommend

  • Rakib

    Author:{However, there was no cavity search. That would have been pointless, unless the authorities were expecting to locate the remaining three dollars an hour she was supposed to pay the nanny} I am surprised the Editors have allowed this. I haven’t read anything more crude & insulting to women on ET-Blogs.

    Author:{The opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), too continues to fan the people’s rage of having one of their elites arrested over a matter as petty and unimportant as mistreating a lowly housekeeper and her spouse.} Devyani will have to pay for her sins if she is wrong. Question is not of innocence or guilt, issue is different. I disapprove of BJP & find them an anti-Muslim despicable lot but I would support them against this bogus charge. ALL political parties are united on this matter. BJP is not being elitist.. Devyani by birth belongs to lowest of low-an ex-untouchable- caste, perhaps lower than her Christian maid. For BJP & others Devyani the person is not the only issue but Author won’t understand that.. Besides, there is nothing to suggest BJP will not take up the Maid’s cause too if details are known or criticise Devyani for her faults. It doesn’t have to be either Devyani or Maid, that is, Indian or Indian kind of scene. Who is the target of BJP-Congress ire should be known to Author if he knows anything about the case.Recommend

  • Vikrant

    Adding to my earlier post, what seems the real story behind this “farce” (if one may call it that!) — is that the nanny was well aware she wasn’t being paid the right wage and her employer had “lied” on the visa application. But instead of taking this up with her (Indian) government and correcting it (surely that is the right way, period, she simply used this as an OPPORTUNITY to get her and her family migrated to America on the issue of “trafficking” — no doubt using her husband’s family’s “contacts” within the American embassy staff in India! And the fact that she is from the correct “minority” community of India was an added bonus! Very clever indeed… very typical of most Indians (indeed most South Asians!) ready to grasp the slightest opportunity to migrate to the “Land of Opportunities” (so-called, as it were!) — now tell me dear sir, WHY would any Indian have any “sympathy” or whatever for this nanny? Sure, Indians all know that their govt may be a “bunch of crooks”, but the way most of them will look at all this is that of “a crook trying to ‘put one over’ his/her own gang!” …:-)Recommend

  • abhi345

    she and her family have already been given citizenship. Thanks to uncle sam.Recommend

  • indian

    Fair points. The govt has generally created hype to divert attention of the public from more real and pressing issuesRecommend

  • grandmasti

    Dude,it would be disgraceful for all of us..Atleast in this case ,she is right..Her monthly salary is only 4100$ per month..How she would be able to pay 4500$ per month..Recommend

  • grandmasti

    If you pakistanis r so much sensitive,what right you have to write upon our internal issue..You pakistanis have no moral right to question us atleast when this practice is very much prevalent in your society as well even worseRecommend

  • grandmasti

    “She was strip searched, he claims, as that is the standard procedure. However, there was no cavity search. That would have been pointless, unless the authorities were expecting to locate the remaining three dollars an hour she was supposed to pay the nanny, which was undoubtedly not a priority”

    That tells all about with what mindset this blog is written..But No matter what we will defend her till last end.I also want to add that barbaric america only deserve pakistan,afghanistan and taliban..Its about time India should scale down her relationship with US..Recommend

  • Indian

    True, the author has tried to denigrate women by his blog. Very insulting indeed!Recommend

  • grandmasti

    what can you expect from them. We r enemy nation for a reason you know.when India is outraged on mistreatment of female diplomat,when whole world is silent on this issue ,pakistan can be only country in the world expected to legitimize cavity search.R you surprised that they have supported a person convicted of war crime and now face backlash in BD.Recommend

  • jssidhoo

    The visa was granted to the maid she must have submitted her application and appeared for the interview so she is the main defaulter in this case MK must have been an accomplice.How can the US authorities prosecute the accomplice and letting the main accused go scot free.I a sure that none of the diplomats of third world countries are paid so highly that they can pay their domestic help $4500 per month and there must be a few thousand such diplomats in the US & UN so why single out MKRecommend

  • jssidhoo

    Noman i normally find your posts quite logical and balanced extremely surprised that you find that $3 bit funny . Not up to your standardsRecommend

  • Indian

    This blog shows the misogynist mindset of this author. The kind of language that has been used in above quoted text for women is despicable.Recommend

  • Indian

    The author has denigrated women in the above quoted text and you find it funny? Disgusting!Recommend

  • deep

    so the US authorities deemed it correct to evacuate the maid’s family. The worrying and terribly irksome issue here is not devyani and the strip search, it is the assumption that the american authorities can evacuate people – almost an extension of the white man’s burden – they have come to wild wild India to civilize us. and you the author seems to have bought into their line of thinking.Recommend

  • Hala Syed

    that’s not what self respect means.Recommend

  • Hala Syed

    how exactly is the author denigrating women or being insulting?Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Actually the issues you mention are not the ones that have Indians riled up, and no one is defending the diplomat in the case of falsifying papers (which is clearly illegal and must be punished). The issue is the treatment of an Indian female diplomat, who is an extension of the Indian state. If she were picked up quietly and then charged, you would find that most Indians would agree and possibly applaud. The maid doesn’t receive much sympathy because she is seen to have colluded in this affair (the express visa issuance to her family 2 days before the arrest being quite telling), and not because she didn’t deserve to be paid according to the rules. As far as the BJP goes, they are only saying what all the Govt spokespersons and regional satraps are – and while the jingoism may be juvenile, the sentiment is based on an insult to the nation, and not in defense of wrong-doing; in fact, I suspect that as soon as this issue is settled, a couple of skeletons in Ms. Khobragade’s family closet are going to start tumbling out, and the unity within the Indian political class will evaporate quite rapidly. Last, as others have mentioned, I find your risque humor to be in appallingly low taste.Recommend

  • sane

    She did a crime and investigated as per law. Diplomats are not above law.Recommend

  • sane

    Your views are very just. I support. But, mentioning Pakistan is not unnecessary.Recommend

  • Iceman

    Faraz, diplomats all over the world have immunity. They are not supposed to arrested by the host country. Even if they commit a crime, at most they can do is declare the person as non-grata and ask the respective country to recall him/her. Indian government is taking this as an insult to them – especially the strip-search that was confirmed, not to the person Devyani Khobargade. Do you strip-search a person for this crime, even if it is established? Where has common sense gone? India accords many privileges to US diplomats in India even though Indian diplomats don’t get the same in the US in reciprocity. In the current retailiation, only those special privileges are removed. The actual tit-for-tat would be arresting some American diplomat in the future (some will surely break law – all are not saints). Now, the question of mistreatment of maid, that is a sad fact of the sub-continent. We are immune to good behaviour and respect for the weaker sections of the society. High time we realized this.Recommend

  • sheikha

    Love how the entire media, bureaucrats and politicians have joined ranks to defend the “hapless” diplomat, while COMPLETELY ignoring the plight of the maid. I understand the bigger issue at hand is the way the diplomat was treated disrespectfully, but if you actually set aside your over reactions for a second you will notice this is pretty standard procedure in US. Do you remember IMF director Strauss-Kahn? when he was arrested for assault he was given the perp walk in handcuffs INFRONT of the media. He was alot bigger deal then Khobragade, so the Indians should be grateful that Americans had the “ghairat” to not parade her like that infront of the media.
    @indians
    The point is if youre so sensitive, than make sure your diplomatic corps strictly abide by the rules when abroad. After all they are representing their countries. Not every place is a babu state, where upon one phonecall you can get your problem sorted. Also if you dont liek the pivileges Americans enjoy in your country, then have the guts to revoke them. Don’t patronise them under the assumption that they will do the same in their country. Because if they wont. And if they want to they can’t. This probe was initiated by the Justice Department, which is equally powerful as the State Department. Kerry cannot interfer in the Justice Department probe no matter how much he wants to, it will be a career suicide no matter if he does. The Justice Department, took down one of George Bush closes aides Scooter Libby in the Valerie Plame gate affair. Please google Patrick Fitzgerald and see what the case was about, even VIce President couldn’t save him or get him pardoned.

    Indian media needs to realise youre dealing with Americans, not Pakistanis where your media always acts hysterically inorder to pile political pressure on your opponents. The Americans have a equally crazy and hysterical media, they will counter everyone of your dirty tactics.

    So buckle up, and face the harsh reality. Your diplomat Devyani Khobragade messed up big time!Recommend

  • sheikha

    @grandmasti
    Ironic how offended you feel about us Pakistani commenting on your issues, while you and fellow indian trolls spend all their time floating about on ET and overcommenting on each and every article on ET. You guys are getting a bitter taste of your own medicine, you reap what you sow. And this may come as a surprise to you but in US every arrestee is strip searched when placed in custody no matter how high their status. Please google the case of IMF director Strauss Kahn and Presidential aide Scooter Libby who were at a much higher diplomatic and political level then Khobragade. If your diplomat had that much ghairat she would not have lied on her visa form and put herself in that place.
    So practice before you preach sister!Recommend

  • sheikha

    @indians
    If her salary is 4500 a month and cannot afford to pay 4100 to her maid then either Khobragade should not have kept a maid or ask your government to pay for their wages, This is not the first case where an Indian diplomat has underpaid and misused the wage laws, there are two civil cases pending already. What is the US suppose to do? Re-introduce African slavery so that your low-paid diplomat can afford househelp?
    This may surprise you but minimum wage laws are taken extremely seriously abroad. On one hand Indians complain about the poor wage condiitons of their laborforce in the Gulf countries, but on the other hand are scrambling to defend the pitiful low pay of the maid? This is sheer hypocrisy and not something worthy of an aspiring global superpower. Abuse your laborforce in your own countries, dont expect other countries to uphold your arguments!Recommend

  • Indian

    Nobody’s defending the diplomat on this charge, if true. We are objecting to the treatment meted out to her by the US marshals. Ok?Recommend

  • Indian

    We have revoked their privileges, if you have followed this story you would know it. This shows that we have guts unlike Pakistan that bowed before America in Raymond Davis’ case.Recommend

  • Indian

    Read the above quoted text by Rakib carefully. Recommend

  • Indian

    Pakistanis won’t understand the meaning of self-respect. Or may be what you guys did in Raymond Davis or Salala attack case is self-respect for you?Recommend

  • Umber

    That Imran Khan comment was totally unnecessary!Recommend

  • grandmasti

    As per diplomatic immunity or counselor immunity she should be provided with all kind of curtsies until she is not convicted..Recommend

  • Anon

    This is how the world media is now covering you:

    Last week, I watched with bewilderment as India’s most vociferous talk show host, Arnab Goswami, repeatedly asked his guests if they expected an Indian diplomat who is paid $4,180 a month to pay her domestic servant $4,500 a month. Meanwhile an American guest, Lisa Curtis, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, tried to make a point: “If somebody cannot afford to have domestic help, then they don’t have domestic help.” Had the other guests not been seething with anger and shouting simultaneously, they would have perhaps heard a simple message: Having a servant you cannot pay a decent wage cannot be a birthright.Recommend

  • sheikha

    Really? So will your government crackdown on the gay spouses and revoke alcohol import licenses? All you have done is revoke the airport vip. There are still alot of other ‘special’ privileges they enjoy and I doubt your government will properly crackdown on them.

    I am following the news, but unlike you not in a state of denial.Recommend

  • sheikha

    Diplomatic immunity is not universal, varies according to the level and grade of the diplo officer and has nothing to do with conviction.Youre government gave her very limited immunity which is why they are now scrambling to transfer, which is why the justice department were able to arrest her and take her into custody. IMF director also had diplo immunity, he was still handcuff and searched. You’re point is factually and legally incorrect.Recommend

  • anon

    Yea right. My country supposedly bowed under pressure which is why we kept ray davis in jail for two months, and made him pay hefty compensation before leaving. Keep in mind he was a CIA operative alot more powerful than a mere diplomat. It is still better than what your government is doing. My govt is still not perfect, if it were drone attacks would have stopped long ago, but still we have our own ways of getting back at them. Since you pretend to be such superpowers stop comparing yourself to us, shows how under confident you still are :)Recommend

  • anon

    @faraz and noman

    you got most of your points across. there was no need to insert that crass comment about cavity search in an attempt to appear funny. I, and is insulting to most women who would be sensitive about this subject. The comment adds no substance only displays pettiness and immaturity on your part. Noman for someone who likes to take the moral high ground in most articles (including your ali azmat post) I am quiet surprised and disappointed to see you endorse and laugh at this one, it pretty much denigrates the values you claim to espouse.
    And no im not an indian troll, a pakistani woman who most of the time likes to put these indian trolls in their place. But here lets call a spade as it is, ok?Recommend

  • sheikha

    I have answered that one already. I recognised that treatment was an issue, but this is how a standard arrest procedure takes place. This is how high profile diplomats like IMF director Strauss Kahn and US presidential aide were treated too.The law is universal and doesn’t discriminate. Your diplomat should have known better before getting into this mess.Recommend

  • Queen

    This issue has been raised at an international level and being a neighboring country, Pakistan has all the right to discuss it in its newspaper in the same way India discusses Pakistan’s internal issues as a “concerned” neighbor. If you do not like to hear what Pakistan has to say on this issue then kindly do not read or comment on a Pakistani newspaper website.Recommend

  • sheikha

    Please grow up. Your country and my country have always had problematic issues when it comes to the way we treat women so this is not a race, where you defend your bad behaviour with ours. You are howling about cavity search, when the entire world knows the story of the Indian gangrape victim nirbhaya and others like her. Pakistan and Bangladesh have high rates of acid attacks on women. India has high rates of female infanticide and gangrapes. Both countries treat their women badly. Please take a good look in the mirror at yourself and dont compare yourselves to us, because we also have alot to improve and work on. Grow up and treat the standard of women in your respective countries at a global and HUMAN level irrespective of caste, creed, age race or religion.
    Lastly if you feel bad about the comments on this PAKISTANI newspaper blog, go stick to Times of India. I have seen the comments sections in indian newspaper, you behave the same way towards Pakistan.
    Again, practice what you preach!Recommend

  • Indian

    So what? The issue here is the barbaric treatment meted out to our lady diplomat by the US marshals. Nobody’s defending the diplomat’s alleged mistreatment of Nanny.Recommend

  • Queen

    Pakistan has its own faults and weaknesses and we are addressing our own issues. However, the recent mistreatment of the Indian domestic worker by India’s elite has revealed the truth of India’s tall claims regarding “Shining and rising India”.Recommend

  • Indi-Pop

    As for the “plight of the maid”, let me enlighten you of some facts.

    1) Even the reduced salary that Devayani offered the maid was 10 times more than the usual salary of a maid in India.

    2) The maid was never cheated. She was told precisely what she will be paid before she went to get a visa at the U.S. consulate prior to her employment. She agreed to lie to the consulate official to get the visa. So she was part of the “visa fraud” as well.

    3) Even after she came to the U.S., Devayani signed a contract with the maid with the reduced salary that was initially agreed upon. At NO point of time was the maid told that she will be paid the higher salary that was given in the visa documents.

    4) She was never mistreated in anyway during her employment. She enjoyed access to the consulate facilities as she had come over on a diplomatic visa.

    5) The maid turned against Devayani for one reason: She wanted to work outside Devayani’s home. She was informed that that would be illegal. This caused her to take her anger out on her employer by turning against her.

    6) The maid was part of a sting operation by the U.S. attorney with the intent of trapping Devayani. The maid’s husband and kids were spirited out of India on a secret operation 2 days before the Attorney moved to arrest Devayani

    7)Devyani was not paid according to US standards because she is covered under Indian law and not American law. If Sangeeta had signed a contract with Indian govt instead of a private contract with Devyani then she too would not come under US law and paying her the agreed salary would be okay.Recommend

  • grandmasti

    It is futile to make understand people like you…Even US law allows cavity search in case of extreme criminal charges which is not the case her..Recommend

  • grandmasti

    Pakistanis dont deserve to be treated in civil manner..keep that in mind.I can confirm you at least after blog posted by this person..Comments worth nothing specially of troll..We always argue in petty manner on some issue..by the way why dont your media stop posting news about India.Pl take a start,trust me no Indian would like to visit your newspaper..Recommend

  • Indian

    It seems you’re ill informed about the case. The liquor import to the US embassy has been revoked by our government. So far as gay diplomats are concerned the current UPA government is for the protection of gay rights so they won’t take action against the gays. However, you can expect this from BJP in 2014, after all it was none other than Yashwant Sinha who had floated this idea.Recommend

  • grandmasti

    Dont not what r you telling by bringing delhi gangrape here.r you saying that US court ordered police men to rape her as she is an Indian woman.Pakistanis dont deserve to be treated in civil manner..keep that in mind.I can confirm you at least after blog posted by this person..Comments worth nothing specially of troll..We always argue in petty manner on some issue..by the way why dont your media stop posting news about India.Pl take a start,trust me no Indian would like to visit your newspaper.Recommend

  • Indian

    No, we’re not a super power and neither we claim to be. We’re a poor but self-respecting nation. At the same time we do aspire to be rich one day.Having aspirations is not bad you see.Recommend

  • sheikha

    “Pl take a start,trust me no Indian would like to visit your newspaper.”

    I am genuinely enjoying your funny replies. because as much as you whine and say we are not worthy of being commenting on, you keep coming here to a Pakistani newspaper. Youre opening yourself upto ridicule not just here but in their entire world media. Since we are so unworthy and you so patriotic take your arguments and defence of Khobragade to the New York Times website and other american newspapers that are mocking your overdramatic reaction non stop.Recommend

  • anon

    Does your media and newspaper stop posting about Pakistan? Why are you even on this website man?Recommend

  • Ali S

    Indians and Pakistanis share a common trait – they go absolutely berserk when someone points out something wrong about them or their culture.

    Let’s face it, even today in the 21st century, the caste system hasn’t left the Indian psyche. To them, the maid was a low-caste subhuman and the diplomat was an upper-class lady who represented India’s dignity on the international stage. It’s a matter of honor for them instead of humanity. So what if she keeps a slave in the US and breaks the law of her host country? She’s India’s representative and how dare the Americans put her in her place.

    And by the way, diplomatic immunity doesn’t mean a free pass to break the rules of your host country and exemption from penal procedures – it’s granted on a case to case basis.Recommend

  • sheikha

    If you don’t like the Indian gangrape victim to be mentioned here, then why are you making petty statements like “pakistan can be only country in the world expected to legitimize cavity search” Dont make petty illinformed statement if you dont want a befitting response.Recommend

  • sheikha

    If you don’t like the Indian gangrape victim to be mentioned here, then why are you making petty statements like “pakistan can be only country in the world expected to legitimize cavity search” Don’t make petty ill-informed statement if you don’t want a befitting response.Recommend

  • anon

    And if you knew the meaning of self respect, you would not be coming here repeatedly to be make childish statements, which repeatedly get mocked and proved wrong by facts and our replies. Take your so called self respect lecture elsewhere.Recommend

  • Indian

    This kind of treatment to our diplomat’s unacceptable to India. This is our red line and a loud and clear message has been conveyed to the US. It might be acceptable to Pakistan though. Recommend

  • just_someone

    thank you, a reasonable voice speaks!
    ignore the comments here, the indian trolls are in full swing!Recommend

  • abhi

    While I am no fan of USA and definitely their actions are politically motivated not for sympathies of the maid. In this case I don’t have much sympathies with Devyani either. It is high time our government officials start thinking themselves as common people and not some special privileged class. She doesn’t need to bring domestic help along with her. Her father claims that Devyani herself doesn’t get enough salary to pay the maid. In this case why she needs to keep a maid? If her job (Devyani’s) is not well paying she can happily resign and do something else. BTW she has some corruption allegations against her in India as well and she should be prosecuted once back in India.
    BTW I am an Indian.Recommend

  • trolley

    Mr.Noman Ansari,
    That you have found the above funny , is very disappointing .
    Although the ‘female’ diplomat being strip and cavity searched for this crime was making the rounds for a very long time (this is essentially one of the grouse the Indians are having) but the author ,Faraz Talat has been rather crass by adding “…expecting to locate the remaining three dollars an hour she was supposed to pay the nanny ..” due to whatever reasons (maybe he did not like being ‘befriended’ by the paleed Hindu Indians on his FB site – as he had complained in an earlier blog on ET) , but I did not expect this reaction from you denigrating women while espousing the cause of a participant in your blog on ET :- http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/20194/ali-azmat-you-crossed-the-line/
    Then what is the difference between you and Ali Azmat . You are a Hypocrite.SHAME ON YOU !!!Recommend

  • Hala Syed

    whoosh.
    seriously look up self respect. you are not doing yourself a favor right now.Recommend

  • Hala Syed

    why has these comments have regressed to India vs Pakistan. that is such a silly argument. no one is talking about the actual case. its really sad to take everything this personally and as a reflection of yourself. no one is attacking you. grow up and learn to have a civilized discussionRecommend

  • Indian

    What has ‘shining’ India got to do with it? The issue is barbaric treatment meted out to our lady diplomat by the US marshals. You’re not even aware of the fact that the nanny was blackmailing the diplomat.Recommend

  • Zazu

    Faraz Talat, you gave words to my thoughts. I was all shocked to see how india reacted over it. Their media tried to sensationlise the whole episode and politician started to gain some vote bank by exploiting the matter. Diplomatic immunty doesnt mean that you can get away with whatever crime you do in the foreign land. I am not a supporter of american policies but I think she got what she deserved. Recommend

  • Sher

    Maids are mostly of low caste. So, no they are not bothered with in shining india.Recommend

  • Indian

    The diplomat herself belongs to a lower caste, much lower than the nanny. Plz read more on this issue before commenting.Recommend

  • Indian

    Why don’t you Pakistanis get a life first and stop posting blogs on matters related to India. I’m commenting here because this blog is on the Indian diplomat. Why are you guys so obsessed with India btRecommend

  • Indian

    In this case the diploma belongs to a low caste, a caste much lower than that of Nanny.Recommend

  • grandmasti

    Why r you crying ???Pakistan has distinctly earned this status..By the way my response was to some lines put up by that person above..I would say rather you pakistanis need to learn some civility..No where you will Indian media posting a misogynistic blog about any women let alone pakistani women..Instead of accepting your fault ,preaching will serve no purposeRecommend

  • grandmasti

    Seems like you have not visited New York times uptil now..Recommend

  • grandmasti

    conversation from my side shall end here anyway..Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Do Khobragade’s actions insult India, or is it only the delivery of justice that does?

    As for the act of arrest itself, there are conflicting reports and I would say the the US prosecutor, Preet Bharara’s claims (who is an Indian-American too, interestingly) have no reason to be less valid than Khobragade’s. And he claims that the arrest was quite discrete.

    To ship a poor Indian maid and her family to US by lying to the authorities about how much she’s be paid. And then pay her wages so low that they ensure she cannot achieve independence, and depends on you to fulfil her daily needs.

    For me, the risqué, cheap humor is the fact the real tragedy here is the eyes of so many Indians, is that the culprit got caught.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Misogynistic? Well, I find this comment epicurean (since we’re just using nice words that don’t seem to fit).

    You realise that I did not allude to the diplomat’s gender, and the sentence would’ve been just as valid had Khobragade been a man?Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Here’s a general rule that should help anyone determine if a statement is insulting to women:

    Does the statement apply specifically to the female gender, or would it have been just as pertinent had the subject been male?

    Also, yes. Most political parties in India support the diplomat’s pardon (once again, who cares about the very, truly Indian housekeeper who was wronged? Her welfare is not in India’s interest). However, BJP is quite characteristically beating the drums of jingoism in a way that is clearly more noticeable than other parties. Either way, my statement about BJP fanning the rage (for better or for worse) isn’t incorrect.Recommend

  • Pin2

    @Author

    “It isn’t with glee that I berate India.”

    au contraire! You sir have enjoyed every minute of reading various news article on this news and every minute you spend writing about it. The glee is obvious in the selection of words which form sentences in your blog.

    Your attempt at humour about cavity search just proves my point further and shows your utter disrespect regarding a woman’s dignity. Coming this from a pakistani is highly disappointing,

    Here is why no one is that much concerned about the Nanny
    1. The women stripped and cavity searched was the diplomat, not the nanny. Being a south asian & muslim I expect you to understand what that means to a South asian woman.
    2. The arrest was not made by NYPT but US Marshalls which makes you think why did US authorities need US Marshalls to arrest a Visa fraud suspect while usually they are given tasks to deal with suspect of terrorism, drug trafficking and other high profile crimes.
    3. The nanny has not complained about any mistreatment while on job. Her only grievance was non payment of her full wage where she only worked for 6 months. When her contract was changed, why did she not reject it out right and asked to be sent back home. No, she kept working to buy time to broker a deal with US authorities.
    4. How come a maid, whose Father and Husband work with US embassy in New Delhi, did not get suspicious when she was given a job offer of 200,000 INR per month. Didn’t she think ” why me”, what qualifies her to make more money than most of doctors & lawyers in India. Isn’t it obvious that she knew what he actual salary will be and she was an accomplice in visa fraud as she has signed the visa application with all declarations as well.
    5. The last point I want to make is that SHE WAS A REPRESENTATIVE OF INDIAN GOVERNMENT. Do I need to say more.

    After taking so much pain in writing this, I realized that it wont make any difference to author and like minded people. This news was a moment which author and all like minded people want to cherish and enjoy. With so much happening in Pakistan, I will say I am happy for you.

    best wishes.Recommend

  • Pin2

    “even today in the 21st century, the caste system hasn’t left the Indian psyche.”

    Google Khopragade to see where this caste sits in caste system. You will be surprised to know that she is a Dalit & the maid is a Christain.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Well, I don’t recall ever lying on a visa application, and it’s a little insulting to suggest that lying on visa documents is an Indo-Pak tradition that we’ve all followed at some point

    Also there’s a difference between minor infactual statements (like exaggerating the state of your business) and deceiving the authorities to get away with an actual felony (as in the diplomat’s case).

    At best, one can theorise that this event was planned by US government and the nanny (which I personally find a bit far-fetched, but let’s assume that is the case). That still does not alter the reality that Khobragade did, in fact, pay her housekeeper far less than what is legal in the US. She did break the law. And what happens to people who break the law, and do not enjoy full diplomatic immunity?

    Recommend

  • sheikha

    The fact that you are still focused on Pakistani behavior just shows how petty and limited and ability to look at the overall view is. This is a matter between your country and US, comparing and dragging Pakistan into this, is exactly the reason why the world media is not even taking your howling, whining and crying seriously, because you just act hysterically without maturity towards your opponents. No one is defending that this was right way to search her, just point out the cold hard facts which have been so hard to swallow. Your government should have had the sense to grant her FULL and Comprehensive level diplomatic immunity like enjoyed by all Russian diplomats, that way she would not have been taken into custody and searched like is the procedure. My advice to you is that if you think your diplomats cant behave properly abroad, please ensure your governments covers them properly like the Chinese and Russians do, no point crying now and trying to transfer her to UN for protection. Your government messed up so, dont expect your red lines to be upheld if you dont uphold themselves by granted full immunity. Common Sense!Recommend

  • anon

    The lack of real life existence of Santa Claus is also probably blamed by India to be Pakistan’s fault. These smart people, instead of patriotic jumping up and down and protesting on the Washington Post and New York Times website, are chest thumping which just shows where their brain-activity starts and stopsRecommend

  • sheikha

    Most Pakistani here agree that this started as a politically motivated game, but now the ball is out of the court of the State Department, since the Justice Department has gotten involved.. Everyone knows that US treats both Pakistan and India according to its wishes (plays nice when it wants favor, or bullies when displeased) This is all the more reason our diplomats should be extra careful abroad and our governments extra attentive. And this is all the more reason why our governments should not bend laws for international diplomats at home, because that way no one takes you seriously when there is an international incident.Recommend

  • Reply From an Actual Lawyer

    1. 550 dollars a month according to US Standards is a joke. Have you heard the economic term Purchasing Power Parity? 500 dollars a month may sound like a lot like in India but in US is a joke and way below average living standards. I have been to New York, its one of the MOST expensive cities in US, so please dont think this pitiful wage is enough. Using your logic, the maid was a billionaire according to Zimbabwean currency!!!

    2. You can lavish your maid with Gucci and Chanel bags for all you care, but if you pay her less than the minimum wage law. It is still a CRIME by statute!

    3. You can’t uphold a contract which agrees for lower than minimum wage salary, because it is illegal requirement under law therefore null and void. Thats like saying a contract for murder between two parties must be respected and upheld. DUH!

    4. Yes again. Give dress your maid in Gucci, feed her caviar and Perrier water and give her bubble baths and lots of cuddles. If you still PAY her less than minimum wage it will be taken as a crime UNDER STATUTE. Statutory crimes are literally applied in letter, bubble baths and cuddles won’t count!

    5. Everyone wants to work in better conditions it is human nature. The way to prevent this is to ensure you look after them properly including pay them proper wage. Slum dog Millionaire policy doesnt work abroad, because once your maid goes outside and sees the difference, she will do that math and leave if she can. I live in the Gulf, and everyday we see hundreds of maids (including Indians) leave behind their passports and abscond, because they want to work in better conditions or are being paid so low already.

    6. This I can agree, that they before initiating actions, they took back up steps to whisk away her family. However the US authorities explained they did this, so that the family is not harassed and put under pressure once the case breaks out. This is already happening because the maids relatives are complaining about receiving threats. The action was political but may have to do with witness protection

    7. Again just because Khobragade was paid low (only 4500), doesn’t mean the maid is paid peanuts (4100) why dont you start importing slaves instead if the salary is so low? Like abhi said she shouldn’t have kept a maid if she cant afford one OR ask your government to pay maid’s salary as part of diplomatic perks. Again NOT AN EXCUSE to break minimum wage laws.

    This is a very serious legal matter (both break min wage laws and then lying on visa papers) not a saas-bahu drama, so none of your arguments will be upheld in an actual court of law.Recommend

  • sheikha

    I have visited and seems like they are throwing back the childish arguments back at you and not buying it. Good day to you too.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    This reply was expected. Certainly her actions portray us in poor light. This does not mean that she can be treated in this manner, since her presence in the US is as a representative of the Indian Govt – apart from the fact that she is not a hardened criminal who would need to be arrested in this manner. I have already addressed the Indian maid part; her terms were agreed in advance and she was never meant to be ‘independent’ – she went on a dependent visa to the US as a domestic help, and then absconded – where did she go if she had no money? She lived in the diplomat’s home and ate their food, and could have easily raised the point of her insubstantial income with them. At the same time, I believe that the maid’s willingness to take advantage of the situation by supporting this ridiculous charge of human trafficking in no way excuses Ms. Khobragade’s scant respect for the sanctity of official documents – Indian authorities should take her to task for this. But again, this certainly does not mean that she can be arrested and violated in this manner.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Excellent comment.Recommend

  • anon

    You realise what a joke your comment is right? Indian tv and newspaper keep lambasting Pakistan day and night. Do you see us festering and trolling about it on the TOI or Hindustan Times website? You know why? Because we can’t be bothered on what you think about us. But apparently you are obsessed enough with our opinions which is why you floating about over at a Pakistani website. Shows how much you care about what we think. So really you should be the one taking your own advice and getting a life. I dont even like reading ET, but I am fascinating with how much Indians are obsessed with this Pakistan website and commenting even on Non-Indians matters, if you don’t believe do read the rest of the articles on this website. That will answer your question on who is obsessed with whoRecommend

  • Wateva

    So we should all clap for Khobragade breaking the law and lying on the visa papers? Her low caste status should be all the more reason she should uphold the rights of underprivileged people like her maid. Why is her and father’s name being mentioned in the Adarsh scam? Is she starting to take advantage of her caste status?Recommend

  • BlackJack

    I know that you are going to ignore everything reasonable in my comment – so spelling out the four broad aspects in simpler terms:

    1. Method of arrest by US and violation of the person of Ms. Khobragade – Unacceptable behavior towards Indian female diplomat, if the shoe were on the other foot, the US would be up in arms
    2. Interference in Indian legal process by evacuating family of Sangeeta Richards – Disturbing and hypocritical
    3. Misstating facts to obtain visa for domestic help under false pretenses – Merits severe punishment – no excuse possible. If you can’t afford help as per law of the land, then don’t bring them along.
    4. Absconding from employer in foreign country while on dependent visa with agreed terms of employment, and with your family is back in India! – Highly unlikely without some major inducement or external reward potentialRecommend

  • Pradhan

    Well the question is can anybody force a female diplomat for strip search and cavity search. I won’t even read the blog.Recommend

  • Rakib

    You may manufacture rules, try out some sophistry & semantics but fact remains, you were gross.. If the gender was male it wouldn’t have been less crude anyway. You don’t even have the courage & grace to admit your lapse. You are in good company though. The crudity was matched well by the hyena-‘laughter’ of another maniac! What a pair!

    BJP can go fly a kite but I shall wait for your reaction when (if the issue prolongs) the Dalits (ex-untouchables) take out a rally in support of their Dalit-Sister Devyani! May be the wronged one was wrong too, study the case some more, find out about Sangita Richard, her family association with Embassies (including US) in Delhi, ferret out the wonderfully laid plan of mice like men, before rushing off with your Blog. But then, you to your own ways & prejudices!Recommend

  • PAKI

    Nicely Written ! and not against anyone in particular, but I dont know why the author is still accused of stepping on some indian tails :D Loved reading the comments !!!! its nice to have “them discussed for a change ;)Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    As I said, there are conflicts accounts on Khobragade’s arrest. One cannot latch on to BJP & Friends version of it as if it came out of Leviticus.

    The Americans claim they did nothing more than what was plain unavoidable under given circumstances.

    And yes, why shouldn’t the focus of rage and suspicion be the underpaid housekeeper. Indeed, fie on her and all her ancestors for choosing to not be subjected to criminal abuse and taking the matter to the authorities.

    Such fishiness. Much conspiracee. Wow.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Man, the replies you’ve received!
    Welcome to the splash zone, my friend.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    As I wrote, she had ‘consular immunity’, not diplomatic immunity. That means she is covered against offenses related to her work only.

    Underpaying a personal housekeeper isn’t a work-related offense.Recommend

  • Guest

    Please, think about it. Maybe the prejudice and the sexism is in your minds? Faraz says that there is no motivation for them to do a cavity search unless they were looking for monetary gains.

    He is being sarcastic.

    That has nothing to do with sexism.

    In psychology there is a term called ‘projection’. I think you are projecting sexism here?

    Again, please, think about what he said. I would have laughed regardless whether the subject was male or female. So I am not being sexist.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    First of all, what is sexism? Sexism is when you make a joke targeting a particular sex. Well, the rule of thumb is that if the joke works regardless of the sex of the person, then it isn’t sexist, is it?

    Would Faraz’s joke worked had the sex of the diplomat been male? Yes. Then how is it sexists? The joke has nothing to do with gender.

    I believe because of the plight of women in the Indian subcontinent (including Pakistan), those of us who are trying to forward women’s rights issues at time overcompensate. It is like a bowler who bowls a wide down legstump, and then overcompensates by bowling a wide on the offside.

    Can you do some internal investigation as to why you find it sexist?

    I will as well. Perhaps I am wrong, but none of my female friends found it sexist. He was being sarcastic because he believes there was no motivation for a cavity search.

    Had Faraz said that she deserved a cavity search because she was a women, then yes, that would have been sexist.

    What Faraz said was that she was exaggerating the fact that she had a cavity search, because they would have no motivation to. Here, he added a sarcastic comment as to what their motivation would be.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    “e to whatever reasons (maybe he did not like being ‘befriended’ by the
    paleed Hindu Indians on his FB site – as he had complained in an earlier
    blog on ET)”

    While Faraz is clearly not being sexist, I believe you are being racist. You are saying he is targeting this diplomat not because he believes she is wrong, but because she is of a different nationality than him.

    Do you realize that’s racist of you?Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    I apologize. I found it hilarious. But I don’t believe it is sexist nor do I believe he is targeting any nationality.

    He is being sarcastic.

    In psychology there is a term called ‘projection’. Are you guys projecting sexism here? My three cents… or three dollars… or whatever.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Look, he is not saying that we should laugh at her because she had a cavity search (which would be horrible, I agree).

    He is saying we should laugh at her because she did NOT have a cavity search and lied about it.

    Do you see the difference?

    For example… if I laughed at someone who had broken a leg, that would be wrong. But I laughed at someone *pretending* to break a leg, that would be wrong.Recommend