India must ban the feudal practice of diplomats taking housekeepers on stints overseas
Time and again, India’s reputation has got sullied as its diplomats have been accused of crimes or misdemeanours by members of their service staff.
By Parul Chandra

Time and again, India’s reputation has got sullied as its diplomats have been accused of crimes or misdemeanours by members of their service staff.It’s a perk considered essential for Indian diplomats to perform their duties abroad more effectively and efficiently. But the practice of allowing officers of the elite Indian Foreign Service to take along domestic workers on their postings overseas has been repeatedly landing them in unseemly trouble, while also sullying India’s reputation around the world.

The recall of the Indian high commissioner in New Zealand, Ravi Thapar, by the Ministry of External Affairs after a member of his service staff (a chef) accused him and his wife of slavery and assault is the latest such incident. Thapar denied the allegations, but the episode underlines the need for the Indian government to do some rethink to ensure such recurring unsavoury incidents do not overshadow its diplomatic outreach.

Thapar’s case comes about a year-and-half after India’s deputy consul-general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, found herself arrested and strip-searched in the US, charged with visa fraud and underpaying her housekeeper Sangeeta Richard.

Corrective measures

A senior Indian diplomat, who did not want to be named, said he decided not to take along a domestic worker when posted to the US in wake of such cases. Others, however, justify the need for such help not only because they need to entertain a lot at home while posted abroad but also because local help, especially in the US and Europe, is prohibitively expensive. Having a domestic assistant is therefore a necessity rather than a luxury, say diplomats.

But all this does not detract from the fact that the government needs to seriously mull corrective measures to ensure such incidents do not occur, instead of merely fire-fighting each time trouble involving an Indian diplomat and her domestic worker erupts.

One step could be to completely abolish what seems to be a feudal practice, wherein Indian diplomats take along housekeepers, nannies and cooks to look after their home and hearth. Instead, the diplomats can be paid more to meet the cost of hiring local workers, and supplement it by doing some household work themselves.

The Indian Foreign Service may resist this, much like their Indian Administration Service or other counterparts have done when it comes to withdrawal of their perks. The Army, for instance, has blocked all attempts to abolish the sahayak or orderly system in its ranks, which started off as an operational necessity but has degenerated into trained soldiers being used for menial household tasks.

Equality is on fire

Seven churches, parishioners of which are basically blacks, were set on fire a week after the tragedy in Charleston in different states of the country in a short time. The arsons were racially motivated.

The struggle of African Americans for civil rights has always been associated with difficulties and sacrifices.
The United States were based on the principle that blacks are not people. In addition, we see that the movement of white supremacists is now reborn. This is not a new phenomenon. This is a reaction to the actions of blacks, who are trying to defend their right to exist.
Some argue that much has changed in our country. However, I disagree with that.
By and large, little has changed. Take a look at the difficulties blacks are faced. The segregation is stronger than 50 years ago.
America for years proclaimed that all men are created equal, however, there are still too many people who don’t share this fundamental principle.

“Le couloir de la honte” / “The shame row”

This is my entry for the Disney Art Challenge contest. We had to represent an emotion. I chose the shame.

For a little explanation : the distorting mirrors stand for the look in people’s eyes, or at least what we think it is … I tried to make a deep meaning from this illustration (haha).

Anyway, hope you like it ! :)