Even before the outrage over Ambassador Meera Shankar's pat down search at the Jackson-Evers international airport could subside comes the news that our ambassador to the U.N., Hardeep Puri, was asked to remove his turban at the Houston airport two weeks ago. India has rightly lodged an official protest. Let us hope the U.S. authorities will revisit their rules governing envoys, if not ex-Presidents and Ministers.
While the rules and operative procedures on diplomatic immunities are codified, exceptions are ever changing to suit the needs of a situation. We presume the operating staff to be thorough with the rules but it is possible that at the ground level, where thousands are required to be frisked, the staff are not conversant with them. Let us not blow a few aberrations out of proportion as security is more important.
P. Esakki Muthu,
Ms Shankar's pat down search at the Mississippi airport has raised a storm in the Indian media. Strict security checks have become a norm in the U.S. due to heightened security concerns. To prevent delays, Indian women avoid wearing jewellery, except the mangalsutra, at airports, museums and so on. Other than being frisked and asked to remove the jewels, belts, shoes, wrist-watch, etc., one is also asked to pass though a wind box where high speed air hits you from every direction tangling the hair and billowing the sari — much to the embarrassment of women.
In India, people holding high positions assume many privileges. Vehicles with a revolving light or a party flag on the bonnet racing past without even paying at the toll gate is a common sight. That is the reason Indian politicians and bureaucrats do not understand the equality of treatment in the U.S.