Saturday, December 21, 2013

Maid in India...

Our resident Santa sends out greetings to all my Blogdosts.... may 2014 be a year of positivity and peace.
                                                                     ************
This appeared in Mumbai Mirror...
                                 Maid in India….
Like everybody else in the country, I was shocked out of my skull when I  read the early reports about Devyani Khobragade’s arrest and the horror story that followed. So many days after the incident, we are still seething, spluttering and swearing revenge. “ Let’s fix America,” nationalists are boldly demanding. And what is our idea of ‘fixing’ America? Oh…. one neta ( Yashwant Sinha) threatens to arrest same sex American couples, Dilliwalla Babus  create dramatic photo- ops for the press by removing barricades and cutting a host of privileges enjoyed by the staff at the American Embassy, Ms. Khobragade’s father appears across channels and gives his gorgeous daughter( Freida Pinto lookalike) a clean chit,then a sister appears with the maid’s good conduct certificate for her boss, Sushil Kumar Shinde says he knows the family well ( her dad worked for Shinde) and promises to salvage the diplomat’s honour, RaGa and NaMo refuse to meet a visiting U.S. delegation, Kamal Nath roars “ We can’t be treated like a banana republic,” Salman Khurshid wants an apology from America.The outrage grows and grows. Meanwhile, we quickly nail the main villain of the piece – a certain Preet Bharara, who is a U.S. attorney. We accuse him of targeting his “own’ countrymen, quite forgetting he owes allegiance to another country – the one he belongs to – America. Detailed accounts appear ( how Devyani was hand- cuffed, strip searched, cavity searched, DNA- swabbed and locked up with criminals and drug addicts). All of this sounds – and is – pretty awful. But wait a minute, has anybody focused on the maid’s version of what really happened inside the diplomat’s home? Or is that irrelevant, because of our loathsome mindset towards domestic help – “ she’s only a bloody maid! How dare she betray her boss?”
This column is not about Khobragade and her trauma. It is about our attitude to a large segment of our population – the hard working but under privileged tribe we still refer to as “our servants”.  We treat them like dirt, show no respect, and think we are doing them a favour by employing them.A lot has changed within this tribe. But the urban classes have refused to wake up and acknowledge the new rules of employment. Our minds are still stuck in a previous century, when ‘servants’ were treated like slaves. They had no rights, zero privileges, and were expected to stay mutely loyal and obedient towards their masters forever. One doesn’t know too much about Sangeeta Richard , who was employed by the  39-year-old diplomat to babysit her two kids. But clearly, the maid was well aware of her legal position in America.Was she tutored? By whom? Why? Is there a bigger, more sinister conspiracy?Who knows?Point is, Devyani has indeed flouted local laws . As, I am certain several other diplomats ( not just from India) also must have  . We don’t consider Devyani’s error of judgement a serious crime. Most would say, “ Big deal! Did the maid really think she would be paid $4,500 as a salary? What cheek! Even her boss’s official, take home salary ($4,120) is less than that….” Well, our Deputy Consul General in New York, should have either paid what was agreed upon in the contract, or done without a maid. Most NRIs who insist on employing domestic staff from back home  arrive at a convenient( but illegal) arrangement  (“setting” in Mumbai lingo).In this case, the baby sitter refused to play ball! That was something Ms. Khobragade had not factored in nor bargained for. One can scream, “ Racial discrimination!” Would  U.S. marshals dare to treat Saudi Arabian diplomats in this shocking manner? The bald truth is Devyani made a huge mistake which is considered a crime in America. It kills us to admit as much. Because we really don’t think there is anything all that bad about short changing a domestic. The argument being, “ The maid was taken to America! She should consider herself lucky! Ungrateful wretch! Bet she is a black mailer, asylum seeker and an extortionist out to exploit the situation. ” Hardly anybody will say, “ Well, given her high position, as an important representative of  India, Devyani  should have known better.

Yes, it’s a nasty mess out there. While India rises as one to defend its beleaguered diplomat,remember  Sangeeta Richards, is also an Indian. Just as Preet Bharara was once an Indian!

12 comments:

Ambika said...

Thanks. Lovely card! Wishing you all the same.

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Rajesh Asarpota said...

This is one of the issues that makes one wonder.. Why this sudden rusn against the US? WHere in F***s name was the GOI when they beheaded and Indian soldier and sent his body home? Did the Govt lose their b***s or did Mama's boy not allow it..

V said...

Cute gal n nice message!
Indians, in general probably do not understand human rights. They understand their own vested interests especially when elections are nearby. So much hue and cry on a diplomat's misdeeds but this very government shed crocodile tears on soldiers butchered bodies!

Maria Perry Mohan said...

Wish you the compliments of the season and I agree with what you say. I know something about the problems of diplomats and their domestic help and I think that Ms. Richards set Devyani up. But you know, Devyani was humiliated and that's not right either, it was a discourtesy to India. I don't believe that Americans don't know that Devyani couldn't pay Ms Richards the equivalent of her own salary. Didn't they outsource lots of jobs here because Indian labour is cheaper? Truth is, the system is rotten through and through. The Americans should simply extradite Devyani and forget about this. And the Govt. of India should have their employees get local domestic help if required and increase their allowances accordingly.

harman singh said...

.. Shobha I completely agree with you and this is wht we have been saying here living in America with our family ,if you cant afford maid why bring in n troubles?? she should be paid as per requirement ,, we all pay in day care like 2000 USD per month and lemme tell you its jus for week days .. this lady a diplomat being so educated representing India is shame bringing bad name and why she should not be punished?? she is treated same way as anyone would....its like bunch of morons making noise for no reason.

Anu Menon said...

hmmm... she made a mistake? I hardly think so. She is a Diplomat who thought she could get away with breaking a law based on diplomatic immunity. She made an agreement to pay INR 30000 knowing very well what the minimum wages in the US were. She could have paid $1000 or $2000 and had her kids taken care of by a sitter for a few hours.
But she decided she wanted the aaram life that people could afford to in India by paying a few thousand rupees and decided to break the law.
Whether the maid was tutored or not - Personally i think she is really smart - is not the question.
You did something wrong - you are being punished for it. Black or white or grey? I'd say pretty white in this case.

Sameer Chauhan said...

You cant write such things for India.. What is your culture eh? shooting innocent kids in the school just for mental frustration? this doesnt come into human rights? what was the crime of those innocent children? they do not have human rights? we pay our diplomates by our indian standards only.. why you people have acid in your stomach when we started tit for tat? Why American diplomates should be given extra security? Every other diplomate of other country is living in India with standard security measure then why US diplomates with extra security? You'll say India itself gave extra security.. But what we feel that our guests should not have any problem or complaint.. thats what we indian are.. If we start strip checking of your formerer President even you'll get hurt.. If you bark about your rules than why dont you strip check your President after he come from visit of other countries of the world? there you cant see your rules?

AD said...

In USA, abiding law is of utmost importance and law is equally applicable to all people irrespective of anyone's status, religion, caste, citizenship, etc. The value system there is quite strong so far as the law abidingness is concerned. Law is meant to be applicable to any 'human being'.
Devyani has flouted the law and she is therefore subjected to the rules and regulation that's governed by their local law for any human being in USA.
That Devyani was pulled up by the Adarsh judicial panel for making a false statement to get an allotment of a flat and to become a member of the society, amply proves that her past record was also not good. She has a tendency of getting her job done by dubious means.
'Adarsh case' being in India and she being an influential person in the country, application of law, in all probability, will not be able to prove her punishable offence !  There are lot many such examples in our country.
In general we talk a lot on abiding rules, regulations, guidelines, moral ethics, laws and on respect for values ; but in case of any 'want' we don't bother to take a bypass route without paying any respect for 'values'.
Unfortunately this is what we Indian are ! 

Roshni said...

Thanks Shobhaa for finally talking about the real issue. I'm an Indian living in America and I'm horrified at the way the Indian politicians think they're 'showing up' the US. They are just showing themselves for the uneducated and uncouth people that they are. Devyani Khobragade committed a crime on American soil and should not expect any special treatment because she is a privileged daughter of an influential Indian politician who is used to getting her way.

salamkool said...

There are only a few days left to Christmas. For atleast now we believe that the Cards of Peace in the Horizon.

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