(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)
The past few weeks have been really distressing for those of us who like to think of themselves as ‘Americaphiles.’ We have been betrayed, left saddened and made to feel unwanted by someone we used to fondly refer to as Uncle Sam. By arresting Devyani Khobragade for the crime of simply being an Indian, they have unintentionally let us know what they really think of us. And from where we’re sitting, it doesn’t look pretty.
Various interests group have turned Devyani Khobragade into a symbol of their pre-formed beliefs. To some, the furore over Devyani’s arrest seems like a representation of everything that is wrong with India’s elites. They declare that the reason the establishment is acting out is because someone dared to treat them like “a normal,” and not like the precious gift that they are. They proclaim that since most members of the elite have been allowed to get away with breaking the law in their own country, they don’t understand why another country wouldn’t accord them the same privilege. Being given special consideration is their birthright and they shall have it!
Of course, the people accusing the country’s decision making apparatus of overreacting couldn’t be more wrong. Obviously, the real symbol in the whole hullaballoo is Sangeeta Richards. She is what is wrong with the country. She did not for once think about all the things Devyani had done for her! Would anyone else have taken her to New York? I bet that Sangeeta was probably the first member of her family to even see the inside of an International airport. And Devyani provided her with everything! She didn’t even charge Sangeeta market rates for all the calls made to India. She just automatically deducted a small amount of money from Sangeeta’s salary. Not because Devyani couldn’t afford to pay for Sangeeta’s calls. Not at all! She was teaching her the value of money. How else would have Sangeeta learned how important money is since she probably spent her whole life without having much of it? Devyani also gave Sangeeta all her clothes that she wasn’t using anymore. Some of them were almost brand new, or worn only a couple of times. Do you think Sangeeta could afford a Dior? Ha! Not with what Devyani paid her, for sure! It is clear that Sangeeta did this for a green card. She saw all those buildings visible from Devyani’s New York residence and got greedy. If only Devyani hadn’t relaxed the ‘no going outside at all’ rule she had for Sangeeta out of the goodness of her heart, none of this would have happened.
The Americans made a huge mistake by arresting Devyani. They can deny us access to the mastermind behind one of the major terrorist attacks in our country. They can even invade the privacy of millions of our citizens and access all their private information. But, arresting one of our own for violating the rule of law in their country? That is taking things too far! I blame Preet Bharara, the District Attorney handling her case, for detonating this diplomatic time bomb. What sort of name is “Preet Bharara” anyway? What is he, an appetizer in an Indian restaurant in New York’s Meatpacking District? Although, one day, I’d really like to meet his twin brother, Preet Changezi. Is this how he treats a citizen from the country of his birth? After all we’ve done for Bharara! Sure, if his parents had stayed in India, he’d not have gotten most (or any) of the opportunities that he has had, but that is not the point! We gave him a name that is not only familiar but also sounds exotic at the same time. That must be come in handy during election time. We gave him a lifelong love of the law by ensuring that his actual place of birth was a lawless wasteland. We even gave him a huge vote bank of Americans of Indian origin by making certain that the only way they could be successful was to go to foreign shores. And this is how he repays us?
Mr. Bharara put Devyani in jail. With common criminals! Is this how they treat important people in the so-called ‘oldest democracy in the world?’ Maybe Mr. Bharara and his cohorts should come to India to learn how to treat people of stature who might be suspected of committing or have been convicted of committing a crime. We give them the respect they deserve and the resources they are used to. Make them feel like they’re not in jail, but at home. And we don’t let them mix with the riffraff in any circumstances. Regular jail is for people without any connection to someone important. Only an unpatriotic person would disagree with this arrangement.
So we did what we had to do to put the Americans in their place. We hit them where it really hurts! First we unfriended them on Facebook. Then, we cancelled their licences for importing liquor and afterwards, we got rid of all the barricades outside their embassy. That’ll teach them! Now, they will think twice before messing with us. Although, if it were up to me, I would have taken more stringent measures. Like putting up a huge statue of Edward Snowden giving the finger right opposite the US Embassy in New Delhi. We could force them to use only the Vodafone 3G network to try to access the internet. Or give them free tickets to an exclusive screening of the new hobbit movie, block all the exits once all of them are inside the theatre, and then play Dhoom 3 instead.
However, the most important and inspiring lesson of the series of events was lost in all the noise. And it is that as long as you know someone who matters, you can do anything you want. The world is literally your oyster.
And don’t you ever forget that.
Now please excuse me as I explain to my indentured servants why rising prices mean that their salaries would have to be cut in half.