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Millennium Post

Has India scored a win with Devyani?

Even though India is celebrating the return of Devyani Khobragade with full diplomatic immunity, is the situation really as gung ho as it’s being portrayed by the ministry of external affairs and some sections of the media? While a hole-filled lid has been put on the monthlong diplomatic standoff between the two countries, with the US refusing to budge and India responding with taking off security barricades in front the American embassy in New Delhi and ordering the establishment to put a fullstop on all its exclusive club and commercial services meant for the consuls and their kin, there are a number of unaddressed issues at stake which have been left hanging in the hurry to effect a solution. With all due respect, the fact of the matter remains that Khobragade was not only asked to leave the country, albeit with her immunity intact, she also faces certain arrest if she returns to the country, even years later. The consul was indicted by the US attorney Preet Bharara on two cases of visa fraud and false statements in connection with her treatment of her former maid Sangeeta Richards, and the charges still stand, since Khobragade refused to settle for a plea bargain. In any case, the consul leaves behind her family, including her Indian-American husband and two children in New York, therefore clearly establishing that the ‘solution’, so venerated amongst the chatterati in this country, is actually a partial success, since it throws the diplomat’s family life asunder. Hence, Khobragade’s unceremonious return proves nothing beyond India’s raging bull response and even then it’s only a half-baked arrangement, intended to tide over the immediate dangers rather than really burying the legal hatchet and removing the inordinate hurdles in the diplomat’s path.

Obviously, the solution, even though incomplete and unsatisfactory, was perhaps the only method to overcome the political stalemate and the undesirable low point in Indo-US relations. For once, India showed some gumption and fought back, even highlighting the ritual flouting of norms and special permissions obtained by American diplomats not only in India but everywhere in the world. So, even if the actual fallouts of the Khobragade issue and a deeper scrutiny would yield up the pockmarks in the so-called porcelain-faced victory on part of New Delhi, it still remains an important symbolic win. That India stood up to US’ bullying tactics and offered an escalated, angry reiteration would go to some length in restoring the balance in favour of the countries who have routinely faced the brunt of  America’s Big Brother policies and hypocrisies. It’s a pity that India could not respond in a similar manner when it was signing the nuclear deal with America, which has been pestering our authorities to dilute the civil nuclear liability law. In addition, India has not been able to lay its hand on the 26/11 handler David Coleman Headley, who turned out to be a CIA double-agent. So, naturally, the Khobragade episode is but an outburst resulting from a pressure cooker situation involving an Indian woman in foreign shores and her dignity. However, there are huge loopholes in the highly unequal Indo-US bilateral ties that too need to be plugged before we can proudly proclaim our own arrival in the global scene of powers to reckon with.
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