Early last week, a rather indiscreet remark by a senior U.S. diplomat snowballed into a major controversy.

When comparisons were drawn between radio tags and anklets, ornaments typical to the region, many were left wondering if the analogy was accurate. By choosing to describe radio tags tied to the feet of some Indian students in the U.S. as ‘hep and happening' and drawing a parallel with anklets worn by her servant maid, the diplomat rubbed many Indians, student community in particular, the wrong way.

The students, majority of them hailing from Andhra Pradesh were pursuing various courses at Tri-Valley University (TVU), a “sham university” that was allegedly running a massive immigration racket. In what was described as one of the biggest immigration frauds to have hit the U.S. university education system, U.S. federal agents swooped down on the California University on January 19 bringing to climax an eight month investigation on alleged malpractices at TVU.

Officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) swung into action as they tracked down TVU students. While some were detained (for misusing Curricular Practical Training) for interrogation, others had to wear radio tags or ankle bracelets to enable immigration authorities monitor their movements. This raised many eyebrows back home and students are furious over the ‘treatment'.

While the U.S. Embassy in India insisted that use of radio collar is commonplace in USA, and has promised to handle their cases with “good judgement and common sense”, majority students feel the U.S. authorities should set a good example by helping affected TVU students get admitted in other universities there.

However, questions are now being asked on whether the students got into TVU knowing fully about the university and the implications on getting caught? Discussions on internet forums have begun to question the social status associated with U.S. returnees and whether such societal pressures could have led some students get into the U.S. by hook or crook.