“We need to make sure that reactive actions of both countries in the Khobragade incident are not repeated anytime soon. The world needs a strong and healthy relationship between the two largest democracies,” she said, reflecting on the recent tense in bilateral relationship with the arrest of 39-year-old Khobragade on visa fraud charges. Khobragade is now back in India, but the case against her remains. “Even in the age of hyper-interconnectivity and the rapid globalizing of societies, cultural differences still cause major consternation,” Desai wrote.
“Cultural mis-perceptions lie at the heart of this controversy. Focused on the letter of the law and the egalitarian values embedded in the American society, Preet Bharara, an American of Indian-origin and the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, sought to remind Khobragade and the Indian diplomatic community that in America, everybody is equal under the law,” she said.
“By following up on the accusations made by Khobragade’s domestic employee, Sangeeta Richard, Bharara showed the concern for the underdog, a classic American value...,” she said. Desai, said by Indian reckoning, the highly public arrest of a diplomat and the strip-search that followed was a direct insult to Indian sensibilities. “He (Bharara) was clearly within his jurisdiction to indict Khobragade on the basis of the complaint he received, but if he had exercised greater cultural understanding of the issue, he might have behaved differently,” she asserted. “Similarly, cognizant of the legalistic culture of the American system and aware of the issues surrounding the treatment of domestic workers in the US, the Indian government should have informed all Indian diplomats based in the US that this was a serious concern,” Desai said. She said if the Indian government had adopted some of the options regarding domestic workers of diplomats earlier, the controversy would have been avoided. (PTI)