Diplomat row: US media reacts to India's 'outsized' reactions

Diplomat row: US media reacts to India's 'outsized' reactions
New Delhi, Dec 18: Diplomatic row between India and United States over the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, a female diplomat in New York, is escalating.

[Read what media in other countries said]

While most of Indian media seems to focus on the arrest and 'strip-search' of the diplomat, US media has its focus on India's 'hyper-reaction' and anger.

Indian government, on Tuesday, unleashed a diplomatic offensive against US diplomats posted in New Delhi and cancelled a number of privilages allotted to them.

Indian politicians and media have been criticising the way US dealt with Devyani Khobragade. She was reportedly strip-searched. However, US government said that they were following the routine procedures and Devyani was arrested on valid grounds.

Devyani is accused of submitting false documents to obtain a work visa for her maid and paying the maid far less than the minimum legal wage in US. The officials also say that Devyani made the maid work far more than 40 hours a week, which is considered as a crime in US.

Wall Street Journal's round up

Wall Street Journal chose to collate views from people in India and US on the issue. The article details on how the issue unfurled and what different newspapers and politicians in India reacted to it. It has included tweets by Indians which speaks against India's 'diplomatic offensive'.

"All I want to say in the Devyani Khobragade case is when in Rome do as the Romans do. Don't violate American laws when you import nannies", tweeted Diptosh Majumdar .

What New York Times said

New York Times article dated Dec 17 says, "It is not unusual in India for domestic staff to be paid poorly and be required to work more than 60 hours a week; they are sometimes treated abominably. Reports of maids being imprisoned or abused by their employers are frequent".

The article seems to say that the furore is a reflection of India's culture.

"But the idea of a middle-class woman being arrested and ordered to disrobe is seen as shocking. Airport security procedures in India provide separate lines for women, and any pat-down searches are performed behind curtains", it says.

The newspaper wonders why India considers it as wrong to ask a top official follow normal security procedures at airports.

'For Indians, domestic help and her/his remuneration is a family matter'


"Top Indian officials are exempt from security screenings here, and long lists of officials who are permitted to bypass the screenings are posted at many Indian airports. When those officials are required to pass through security screenings in the United States and elsewhere, that fact often makes headlines in India and is seen by some as an insult to the country", it says.

A Huffington Post article said "A prominent Indian diplomat and women's rights advocate working in New York is being accused of committing visa fraud and grossly underpaying her children's nanny -- at just $3.31 per hour".

Washington Post's reaction

What prompted India to react so strongly? Here is what Washington Post said about it.

"India's reaction may look outsized in the United States, but the case touches on a string of issues that strike deeply in India, where the fear of public humiliation resonates strongly and heavy-handed treatment by the police is normally reserved for the poor. For an educated, middle-class woman to face public arrest and a strip search is almost unimaginable, except in the most brutal crimes". It says.

The news website enlists incidents from the past which had grabbed similar media attention in India.

"Far less serious protocol complaints have become big issues in the past. Standard security checks in the U.S. regularly are front-page news here when they involve visiting Indian dignitaries, who are largely exempt from friskings while at home. India's former speaker of Parliament, Somnath Chatterjee, once refused to attend an international meeting in Australia when he wasn't given a guarantee that he would not have to pass through security. Chatterjee said even the possibility of a security screening was "an affront to India."

For Indians, domestic help and her/his remuneration is a family matter, the website said.

"The treatment and pay of household staff, meanwhile, is largely seen as a family issue, off-limits to the law"

Now, these reactions certainly do make some sense. Isn't it ideal for India to let US go through the legal procedures, conduct a fair trial rather than crying foul?

Oneindia News

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