Diplomats are supposed to be the torch-bearers of the country’s image abroad, let alone play on behalf of the nation and its people. While the sordid Devyani Khobragade incident shamed India, which reacted in outrage, there are many instances to have equally affected the reputation of our diplomats abroad. The incident also give weightage that state-borne domestic helps should be sent abroad.
The only qualification you need to be posted abroad is to clear the Civil Services Exam and no aptitude training is enough to change the feudal mindset of bureaucrats that is instilled in many at the very foundation course in Mussorie. The result is often an unmatched posting abroad and the resultant frustration taking the form of assaults on your domestic helps and cooks you take along with.
While Khobragade incident opened the channel to send official cooks and domestic helps along with the diplomats abroad, the incident of India’s High Commissioner in New Zealand, Ravi Thapar’s wife was in news for alleged assault on their cook. He has to be recalled by the Ministry of External Affairs but no training given to spouses of diplomats helps in such incidents of instant outrage.
The chef alleged that the envoy’s wife Sharmila Thapar had assaulted him but refrained from filing a police case despite nudging from the local police. He returned safely but even the envoy had to be recalled.
The incident has given wide coverage and a report said that least 27 Indian diplomats posted overseas are facing similar charges of ill-treatment to domestic helps, corruption, harassment and dereliction of duty.
The ministry of foreign affairs (MEA) has registered 5 cases in its UK missions, 5 in Madagascar, 3 each in Kazakhstan and Kenya, 2 each in Botswana and Mali, and 1 each in Afghanistan, Austria, Italy, Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands and Thailand, reports the Indian Express, quoting a South Block source.
Alarmingly, the list is growing as every year passes by. From 10 in 2012-13, it has gone up to 27 in 2014-15, almost three times.
Besides Khobragade, Indian diplomat Neena Malhotra faced a suit and paid $1.5 million in compensation to her maid while another case in New York mission involving Prabhu Dayal resulted in similar allegations though it was settled in 2012. This apart, many times Indian diplomats were involved in theft and bad behaviour cases, especially in the US.
So, everytime the MEA comes out with a solution to a particular problems, new one crops up giving headache to the South Block to restrain its staff abroad.