Satyabrata Pal (“Breaching the Vienna Conventions,” Dec.25) says with great conviction that it is the U.S. government that was morally and legally in error. Whatever the legalistic framework his hair-splitting arguments may have been construed in, the fact remains that Ms. Khobragade lied about the wages she paid Sangeeta Richard. If Mr. Pal, Ms. Khobragade and other foreign service bureaucrats feel so indignant about their “right” to have domestic help in any part of the world even if they are unable to afford living wages for such help, perhaps the time has come to give up on this institution and to remind themselves of Gandhiji’s dictum that there is no nobler action than for “all do the labour the poor must do, and thus identify ourselves with them and through them, with all mankind.”
Sudhir Chella Rajan,
Mr. Pal’s reasoning and arguments clearly expose the double standards followed by the U.S. and throw up interesting issues on the arrest and detention of Ms Khobragade. It would be good if one gets to read the responses of Mr. Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to this article.
The statement that “every Indian diplomat in the U.S. has told the same lie, because none of them can afford to pay the local minimum pay...” is an admission and violation of Rule 3 (1) of The Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 which is specific about maintenance of integrity at all times. It says: “every Government servant shall at all times maintain absolute integrity; maintain devotion to duty; and do nothing which is unbecoming of a Government servant.” Is this not applicable to IFS officers?
Second, if everyone does an act of misconduct, can it be condoned? So, does bribe taking, late attendance to office, etc, get condoned without even giving a showcause notice? I am reminded of what a traffic policeman told my friend who had overshot a red light in Delhi, when he pointed out that some others had done the same thing. “Will other violations justify yours? You have violated the rules, haven’t you? You will be fined, irrespective of others doing so.”
Another issue raised is about the law which has been enacted by another democratic country. Are we to question that? Or, should we insist that it should be applied differently to us as we belong to another country?