Devyani Khobragade is on her way home. The Indian diplomat, accused of mistreating and underpaying her nanny, was the focus of an international incident when U.S. authorities had her arrested and strip-searched. In India, the retaliation for the alleged mistreatment of Khobragade was swift: Officials removed defensive barriers around the embassy in New Delhi, revoked U.S. diplomats’ privileges, and poured forth a torrent of criticism in newspapers and on television.In order to quell what was quickly becoming a diplomatic firestorm, the State Department evidently stepped in and pulled rank on the prosecutors who originally filed the charges. Khobragade was “very recently accorded diplomatic immunity status,” said prosecutors at the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, allowing her to board a flight back to India. Earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry called India’s national security adviser to express “regret” over the arrest. Khobragade’s lawyer said she was pleased that the State Department “did the right thing.”But, just to make sure that everyone is on equal footing as the dispute settles down, India requested that a U.S. diplomat of similar rank be sent home. Tit for tat.According to multiple reports, Khobragade’s actions toward her nanny are reprehensible by American standards. She allegedly refused to allow the nanny to return to India and made intimidating calls to the nanny’s family members, pressuring them to reveal her whereabouts and filing charges of extortion. This might be no big deal in India, but in the United States it’s against the law and violates our cultural norms of common decency for hired help.All that said, it’s time to put this ugly episode behind us. The ultimate goal throughout the dispute was never to win an argument. Both sides should realize that the incident is viewed by both countries in very different ways. In diplomacy, it’s always important to understand the motivations and sensitivities of international representatives. The relationship between India and the United States is a vital one, and we shouldn’t allow a disagreement between one diplomat and her nanny to upset the balance.
Saving Face/Climbing DownUS Expels Accused Diplomat, Settles Dispute with India