Thursday, December 19, 2013

American officials insult India by strip-searching an Indian diplomat. Perhaps India should respond in kind

Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York, was arrested outside her child's school a few days ago.  While she was detained, she was handcuffed, strip searched, and thrown in a cell with common criminals. U.S. authorities acknowledge that the strip search included a search of body cavities,  but they stoutly maintained she was afforded special consideration because of her diplomatic status.

Ms. Devyani Khobragade deserves
a personal apology from Secretary
of State John Kerry
photo credit: Mohammed Jaffer AP
What was Ms. Khobragade's offense?  She is accused of underpaying her housekeeper and working her more than 40 hours a week.

A couple of observations.  First, don't you think it is hypocritical of the United States to kill innocent civilians with drone strikes in Pakistan and then strip search an Indian diplomat for overworking her housekeeper?

Second, if a diplomat must submit to a body cavity search based on an accusation that she underpaid her housekeeper, then Washington politicians should make sure they keep their undergarments in good repair.  How many Congresspeople  and senators do you think are underpaying their nannies, lawn care employees and domestic servants?  A few I would venture. Wouldn't it be embarrassing for a Congressman to to reveal  he was wearing tattered boxer shorts after being booked for not paying Social Security taxes on a nanny's salary?

Of course, the Obama administration issued one of its "I'm not really sorry" apologies. Secretary of State Kerry expressed "regret" over the incident, which is kind of like Obama saying he was sorry people found themselves in the situation of not having health insurance. Hey, "my bad."

I predict the Indians will not be satisfied with anything less than a profound personal apology delivered to the Indian Prime Minister and Ms. Khobragade by a senor American official.  I hope Secretary of State John Kerry flies to Mumbai  to deliver this apology himself, and I hope the Indians extend him an American-style welcome by giving him a thorough cavity search at the airport.

References

Gardiner Harris. Outrage in India, and Retaliation, Over a Female Diplomat's Arrest in New York. New York Times, December 18, 2013, p. A13.



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