Its open season for all on Devyani



I was wondering when someone would bring up the fact that India’s deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade is of Dalit origin – and right on cue it did not take very long for Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati who to play the gallery to reinforce her constituency just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in the country.

Mayawati believes the UPA’s slow response to Devyani’s arrest in the United States was because she was a Dalit though there are many others who would suggest the opposite – that the government is acting unusually tough precisely because of her background. But neither Devyani nor her father Uttam Khbraade, a high profile IAS officer of the Maharashtra cadre ever felt the need to emphaisise their origins in either Mr Khobragade’s long career in the state or even when Devyani first topped the MBBS exams nd then came through with flying colours at the civil services competition,

Kohbragade was justifiably proud of his high achieving daughter and when she was in Paksitan had spoken to some of us about how well she had distinguished herself in her job. But Devyani’s not the first woman dalit IFS officer – speaker Meira Kumar was there before her – nor is she likely to be the last, so I don’t see any reason for the former UP chief minister to unnecessarily accord a caste colour to the contretemps.

Though I am pretty sure that officials in the United States might have been taken aback by the ferocity of India’s response to the humiliation that Devryani was put through, I think it is a bit silly for the saffron forces to target Dominos Pizza outlets or even for Yashwant Sinha to ask for the arrest of gay couples working at the American embassy in New Delhi because homosexuality has been re-criminalised in India, It only shows us how poor the opposition’s intellect is in dealing with situations of such international ramifications and I am pleasantly stunned and surprised by the UPA’s responses in both the Devryani imbroglio and the outlawing of LGBTs by the Supreme court last week — even if it does seem like the closing elections have given the UPA a spine it did not have before.

I have also seen many responses of citizens as well as some media pe

persons lamming Devyani for owning flats n the infamous Adarsh society but any child even should be able to work out the fact that she was not involved in any scam in obtaining the flats but perhaps benefitted by being just her father’s daughter. Several IAS officers and politicians, including former BJP president Nitin Gadkari;s close associates. are said to own benami flats in he society and it is no doubt a scam of the greatest proportion possible that definitely needs diligence in its probe. But that does not make Devyani corrupt nor can one accuse her of human trafficking as some activists are now tending to do.

However, I will not be surprised if the saffron forces now escalate the war against American interests in India for that has always been their philosophy – they believe they arw the custodians of everything Indians – and particularly Hindus eat, drink or wear. I remember some Bajrang Dal workers giving me some bizarre explanations several years ago of how insidious the Americans were being by opening such outlets in India – one of them even suggested that beef burgers were being used to mask poisoning by anthrax. When I asked how on earth that was possible, he said, they use infected animals to make the beef burgers and even suggested the animals were deliberately infected by the bacillus in order to kill off Indians. I checked – beef burgers were never on the mrnu of any of such outlets.

However, it is quite apparent that people like Pravin Togadia need no excuse to set the ball rolling against anything and everything they see as invading the Indian culture and Devyani’s arrest in New York comes as a godsend just before the Lok Sabha elections.

Nevertheless it seems it is open season for everyone, including the US district attorney who obviously has electoral ambitions of his own, vis-a-vis Devyani – now if the Americans believe she was exploiting her domestic help, I would like to know how many Indian employees at American consulates and information centres across India draw the minimum wage afforded to employees by their government. I have many friends in such places and while they earn substantial amounts including perks, I can be sure they are far below the minimum wages offered in the United States.

I believe they should fix that first before casting another stone at any Indian, Devyani or anybody else. And the government of India would be bê better advised to press on that nerve to straighten out things between them rather than just removing some barricades or denying permssions to import foreign liquor. We have the ideal opportunity to hold the mirror up to th Americans and expose their hypocrisy.

As for Devyani, I am sure she is headed for a great political career back home even if Preey Barara does or not make it to the US Congress as he would have wished!a

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