Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Consul and the Crime

I have refrained from making comments on the matter of Devyani Kohbragade, the Indian diplomat arrested in New York, because it seemed to be a diplomatic fracas of little long term import. On the one hand, you have Preet Bharara, the Indian born American US attorney for New York taking aim at the alleged illegalities of an Indian diplomat stationed within his jurisdiction. On the other, you have two countries awkwardly addressing an issue that should have been dealt with very differently.

I continue to be confused by why partial diplomatic immunity did not trigger a more gentle approach to Ms. Kohbragade and her arrest. At the same time, I am bewildered by both the decision by India's foreign service not to remove Ms. Khobragade from the US upon receiving notification that she was under criminal investigation (in September 2013) and its most recent decision to relocate her to India's UN Mission, also in New York. Ms. Kohbragade is no stranger to controversy, having been involved in the Adarsh Housing Society, a corruption riddled housing development in Mumbai. In this instance, she attempted to do something her limited diplomatic immunity did not allow her to do, namely commit visa fraud and violate US federal labor laws. While another American prosecutor may have been more deferential to Ms. Kohbragade's limited immunity, the rather aggressive Preet Bharara was not.

While US Attorney Bharara's posture smacks of a poor understanding of international relations (or blatant disregard thereof), India's childish removal of security barriers from the US Embassy in Delhi as retaliation does not even remotely befit the august role a country's official position must fill. India and Indians have far more important matters to address than this potential diplomatic misstep. At very least, Ms. Kohbragade's conduct -- and the apparent misguided insistence by the Indian government that she remain in the United States -- should not become the cause célèbre for a large swath of angry Indian citizens. US Secretary of State John Kerry has already expressed "regret" over the incident; India's government should do the same and move on from this silly affair.

1 comment:

Surruchi said...

I slightly disagree here with the last part, yes India does exaggerated issues but I believe it needs to be addressed as its not the first time this is happening. Ex-president, APJ Abdul Kalam ( and former defense minister, George Fernandes ( had to go through similar humiliation in the past and The US government expressed "regret" over the incident. I believe you can't repeat such mistakes. Having said that I totally enjoyed reading this article (