Publicly admonish erring diplomats

Publicly admonish erring diplomats

Indian diplomats posted abroad to represent the country have not learnt their lessons as regards the way they treat their domestic help. Their elaborate training in diplomatic etiquettes notwithstanding, many of them continue to betray feudal mindsets. In the latest such case, Indian High Commissioner in New Zealand Ravi Thapar and wife Sharmila caused a huge embarrassment to the country with the way the latter treated their domestic help at their residence in Wellington. As it so routinely happens in this country, their male domestic help, whom they had taken to New Zealand, ran away from the diplomat’s residence after he was beaten up by the diplomat’s wife. The man left the High Commissioner’s residence in the dead of night to escape her violent ways and landed up in a Wellington Night Shelter with help from local police.

The New Zealand government could have pressed a domestic violence case against the diplomat’s wife as per the country’s stringent laws. Fortunately for India, the host government preferred to allow her to escape the country rather than face a domestic violence inquiry. The diplomat’s wife should also be grateful to her victim that he did not press for a case against her, and instead chose to return home quietly. Probably, he did not have much help to pursue a case against his masters, either. Much before the matter even came to public limelight in New Zealand, the domestic help was already back in India. It is almost certain that the Indian government quietly worked with New Zealand authorities to sort out the matter, and thus avoid another Devyani Khobragade-like diplomatic rancour that marred Indo-US relations for weeks two years back.

It is certain that as a quid pro quo for not pursuing the case against the diplomat’s wife, New Delhi agreed to recall Ravi Thapar from Wellington. While the quid pro quo may be acceptable from the point of view of avoiding a diplomatic stand off, what is shocking is that Ravi Thapar is making it look as if he or his wife did nothing wrong; that he was returning to Delhi only because he wanted to be close to his ailing mother. Erring diplomats like him should not be allowed to get away so lightly, particularly when their behaviour portrays India in poor light. If he is recalled as a punishment for his or his spouse’s behaviour that is unbecoming of a top diplomat, then the government must publicly admonish them, and not shield them. Not doing so will only help others to take incidents like this as a routine happening. The country’s image should not suffer at the hands of the very persons who are chosen to shoulder the onerous responsibility of enhancing it.
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