A Christmas treat that created problems for Indian American Relations

Recently a dispute arose between an Indian woman diplomat in USA and her Indian domestic Maid. The dispute grew into a legal battle between the two parties first and it has now has grown into a full fledged diplomatic battle between India and USA and the previous good relations between the two countries have been soured. Could the inside story behind this incident be a story of a Christmas Party that went wrong?

With prosperity in the developed part of the world, minimum wages of the poorest in such societies have gone up over the past several decades to a level that hiring of full time domestic staff has become unaffordable for most in such countries. However in the underdeveloped and developing world, poverty is still widespread and therefore servants and domestic staff are still affordable by many. Although its prevalence is coming down fast in India due to recent economic growth, the practice continues widely in many Indian homes. When a servant is employed in a home sometimes there is ill treatment and exploitation of the servant. This is especially so when the servant is a child. Exploitation becomes difficult if the servant is an adult except in the remote hinterlands of India because an adult can not be held against his or her will easily and he or she may leave. However, it is fair to say that there are also very many cases where the servant is treated well and becomes a part of the family. In the latter case it becomes an escape from poverty for such persons.

You would find in this blog stories and pictures of my adopted son Shyamu and grandson Golu.  Shyamu had joined my household as an illiterate domestic assistant some fourteen years ago. He is a fully literate knowledgeable man of the world now. Aside from this since birth I have seen only two other butlers in my Family in  a life of around sixty years. The first Hira lal and the second Jaswant both retired in very comfortable circumstances and the butler Hira Lal of my book The Babaji Affair has been modeled on precisely this Hira Lal of our family. I have written nothing about Jaswant and do not intend to because we did not hit it off very well although we still help each other in times of difficulty as brothers might.. He was jealous that my mother favored me in the household as a child rather than him. The story of domestic aides in my Ganddfather’s family was similar. All this has been recorded to indicate that exploitation of servants by masters is not a universal fact in India.

Indians diplomats, because they are used to domestic staff in their home countries, take along with them domestic staff when they are posted in different countries around the world. When such a posting is to another developing country such servants have a great time and enjoy the tenure happily with free board and lodgings, expenses, travel and a salary to boot that they can almost completely save to build a handsome savings account. However, when the posting is to a developed country such as USA the servants are tempted to settle permanently in the new country as economic immigrants. If they are being exploited by their masters they can hope to get help from human rights organizations in this quest. If they are not being exploited they may be tempted to lie about it in order to get such help.

Recently when the maid of an Indian Diplomat escaped into the big Apple she made accusations of ill treatment and secured asylum for herself and also the rest of her family later that was in India. In this quest she was it seems assisted by an American diplomat in India for whom the maid’s family worked in India and a New York State Attorney by the Name of Preet Bharara.   The said attorney has been used in the past to prosecute prominent South Asians in America so that perhaps charges of racism can be avoided by the American administration. A criminal case was filed against the lady diplomat. She was picked up on a New York street, stripped and her private parts were poked and peeped into. The incident caused an outrage in India.

However, all that may need confirmation by further investigation and legal processes. Wrong may have been done by the maid (and those who helped her) or the diplomat or both. Only the legal process can reveal the full truth. In the meantime the issue of catching women by force and handcuffing and probing into their cavities has caused a huge uproar in India and some reciprocal actions against American diplomats located in India.

It goes without saying that the lady in question, although she was prepared to deal with the legal process and face consequences if any for any possible violation by her is immensely traumatized and shocked by this wholly unnecessary and barbaric indignity. If it will help, this blogger wishes to say that the sympathy of all Indians and all decent persons of the world who value the most basic of human rights are with her. Being subject to such indignities by force in no way diminishes her dignity  just as those committed on the brave-heart Nirbhaya of New Delhi did not diminish hers. It only casts terrible shame on the perpetuators.

It seems in the past a former President of India (Abdul Kalam) and other senior Persons have been stripped forcibly by American authorities. It is not known if their cavities were probed but as clarified by US authorities that is standard procedure in USA.  There was no widespread outrage although India has not done the same with Bush or even less important Americans. The question then is why the outrage this time? The answer is that India is incensed with the issue. They are enraged at the forcible sexual peeping and insertions into women’s sexual parts.

Indians are perhaps more sensitive to the forcible stripping of women than any other nation on earth. A friend Ramakrishnan Ramanathan explained the reason for this in a discussion on this post on facebook. The most highly regarded ancient scripture of India is Mahabharata. It is a story of the first massive war on the planet in ancient times that began after a lady was stripped by force when on a visit to a friendly kingdom ( even though the stripping was interrupted by Krishna) and the chain of subsequent events arising from the incident.  The horror of that war is buried in Indian psyche. The Bhagvatgita another highly regarded text in India is a brief extract from the Mahabharata. Preet Bharara grew up in USA and has therefore missed this text in all liklihood or he would not have been part of such an incident and defended it later  in media.

The Possible Inside story behind the incident:

Perhaps the New York Marshalls wanted a special treat with the help of  New York attorney Preet Bahara this Christmas season in return for cooperation they have given him in the past. Their desire was to have a strip tease by a lovely lady with the freedom to fiddle and probe the naked woman in her private areas, all this completely under the full process of whatever is permissible in law and procedures as exist. They chose an Indian lady  because the Indians have been known to be docile about the issue. However, the subsequent uproar from Indians and also other parts of the world took everyone by surprise. If this story is true, it seems to have been an evil Christmas Treat that went horribly wrong. Christmas is about love and sharing not molestation and evil.

Both India and America are some of the greatest democracies on the planet. It would be wise that they should learn about their good sides from each other in a spirit of friendship rather than undesirable poking. Every human and every country has a good side and a bad side. It is worth strengthening that good and diminishing the bad in the interest of all humans. 

Wishing a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Indians and Americans and the rest of the world

The Aftermath, December 23, 2013

President Obama has taken off for a holiday with family. In New York Devyani Khobragade the diplomat enjoyed her Newly granted UN diplomatic status with immunity and respect and Preet Bahrara prepares for a nice and happy Christmas party with family. He has been christened as Uncle Tom in the Indian News Paper Times of India today morning, a term that was  first introduced by this blog along with a cartoon depiction in an earlier post to describe what appears to be the improper and unethical side of Uncle Sam (there have been several other firsts by this blog under the guidance of the lord, May Praise be upon Him)

Merry Christmas



Ramakrishnan said…
Much better after editing. A little more editing perhaps would improve the text further. I do not think the party has gone wrong at all for the Americans. They are sticking to their guns and have made no concessions what so ever. They will not drop charges against Khorbade.It is India that acted in haste and took petty,silly and immature retaliatory measures. But now the Salman Khurshids of this World look like they may end up achieving nothing & compelled to eat humble pie. The Americans have humiliated India once again by their complete silence and total lack of reaction to Indian protests. India and Indians have been made to look like fools. The Americans will indeed enjoy their Christmas and make merry.
Ashok said…
Thanks Ramakrishnan. Did a bit more editing and removed the crudest parts.

I think it is not the worthiest of persons that are in positions of power in India today and that is the reason for governance deficit as well as such fiascos in international relations.

I have written the article and also the one on facebook rather candidly to the point of being crude with the belief that if it is not spoken as such the matter may get brushed under the carpet and repeat again in future.
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