Reciprocity manifest?

In response to Devyani Khobragade’s ouster from the US, Govt of India (GOI) declared a counselor level officer in the US Embassy in Delhi persona non grata, and gave this officer 48 hours to be out of the country. On the surface this appears a strictly reciprocal gesture — the principle of reciprocity being recently discovered by the MEA only after one of its own was caught by the US Govt. in the legal wage trap. But was this strict reciprocity? It was not.

A truly reciprocal move would have been to legally charge this Counselor accused by GOI of aiding and abetting the illegal exfiltration of the Indian maid servant Sangeeta Richard’s family from India after a case had been registered in the Indian Courts against Sangeeta, making the US Counselor an accomplice in the breaking of Indian laws. Khobragade was charged in New York courts, the said Counselor should have been hauled up and a legal case of abetment of crime should have been registered against the American diplomat, and the US Embassy asked to waive immunity against her prosecution, which wouldn’t have been acceded to. That would have made for absolute equality of situation. But now an Indian diplomat has a legal case hanging on her, preventing her return to the United States, the American has no such legal barrier to surmount.

The difference and the complication is, of course, that while the American diplomat would happily never come to India again, Khobragade, has a US-born husband and kids to worry about. It’ll mean that once she leaves service, she’ll have to fight her own private battle with the US legal system or, alternatively, have her husband and children relocate to India.

The other interesting aspect of this entire affair is Devyani’s father — a provincial civil service officer, elevated to the Indian Administrative Service, whose career record is pockmarked by vigilance and corruption cases, including the Adarsh Housing Society scam. He has exploited to the fullest his position, which is evident. How else did his daughter enjoy special treatment, get foreign language of her choice — German, when a person senior to her in her batch was denied such latitude, filed a case, and was fired from the IFS? What isn’t clear is whether Devyani is a “22 and half-percenter” — an SC/ST quota-entry officer, which category is looked down upon by the merit listers. There’s a lot of sensitivity on this issue on both these issues. Why else would Khobragade pater bring up the “casteist charge”against media persons when they brought up the Adarsh scam angle?

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Geopolitics, Indian Army, Indian Politics, society, South Asia, United States, US.. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Reciprocity manifest?

  1. Shetty says:

    Great post. The Americans really need to be taught a lesson. Our babus just dont have the spine.But then our babus are more interested in getting ‘benifits’ and ‘privileges’ out of the system rather than thinking of national interests. This the Chinese know very well and use to keep gobbling up our territory bit by bit each year. Domestic help is a privilege of our Babus. How else can one justify the post of two ‘bungalow peons’ that all senior babus are enttiled to. Bungalow peons are domestic help paid for by the taxpayer.

  2. Guru says:

    Nice post Sir. However may i humbly point out that whatever( & all justified) criticisms that we have about our Babus and their ilk, when it comes to international relations they need to be given a back seat.
    i hold no brief either for the pater or daughter but in this particular case India has come out the loser, whatever spin the diplomatic community may put on it by saying that this ensures that both have won.
    regards the Adarsh case, notwithstanding the fact that she(& father) are privileged classes( & if what you say about 22 and half is correct, in more ways than one) the law must be allowed to take its course. The guilty must be punished.

  3. Bhavanajagat says:

    While I appreciate your view, the speculation about Dr. Devyani’s caste and any preferential treatment are not relevant to the main theme. To the same extent, her father, his elevation to IAS cadre and getting a plot are entirely out of place.

    • Shetty says:

      bhavana, you are right. father, his elevation and caste are immaterial. But the bigger issue is, without father, his elevation and caste devyani wouldnt be where she was. So is this not ground to justify that in the IAS (father) and IFS (daughter) caste (reservation) should not be there for selection. It should be only on merit. Father having worked his way up using the caste card, has done the same with daughter. Father was MPSC and was rewarded for complicity in facilitating some contracts by being promoted into the IAS. He played the caste card and learnt to show disdain for the law. Taught the same thing to his daughter. Caste and political clout got the father the top position. Same is the value system of the daughter. Daughter just didnt get it that America has the rule of the law. It is something that was totlly alien to her. Evne now she is trying to break our heart, by saying i will not see my kids etc. I mean when husband and kids are american citizens, how many americans have domestic help. These are the people who will steer our nation tomorrow. What can we expect. In fact for her kids benifit she will allow India to be raped by the Americans. This is how the Americans must have got so many privileges unilaterally. The other IFS officers must also be operating this way. Devyani babe must have crossed the line somewhere and rubbed the americans the wrong way.

  4. arunh says:

    Mr Karnad, you may want to take a look at this link about the diplomats in question…and their racist views on India and Indians. Such are the people sent to civilize us heathens.
    Note the bit about insulting Gods (wont be the last time either), only Indian vegetarians are molesters, and similar barely cloaked bigotry. Mind you they started all this only a couple of weeks in.

  5. Lila Rajiva says:

    This is not a simple event. It’s orchestrated.
    Here is a detailed analysis

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