Martina E. Vandenberg’s Jan. 2 op-ed, “No pass for diplomats,” on an Indian diplomat’s arrest in New York over a wage dispute with a domestic employee, was one-sided.
The diplomat was the first complainant in this dispute, both in New York and in India. Additionally, the domestic worker’s employment contract is partly with the government of India, which pays for her medical care, travel and significant portions of her salary and living costs. Therefore, any dispute should be resolved in an Indian court. It is surprising that a preexisting legal case in India and Indian diplomatic initiatives have been ignored. This case is about not the mistreatment of a domestic employee but rather U.S. laws being gamed for immigration purposes.
India’s demands are not unreasonable. These include respecting Indian legal processes and affording our diplomats the same immunities and courtesies under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations that the U.S. government seeks for its officials posted abroad.
In India, U.S. diplomats have not been stripped of their identity documents. Those officials posted in consulates have been issued identity cards with stipulations similar to those their Indian counterparts receive in the United States. Nor has the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi been deprived of security, as Ms. Vandenberg suggested. Traffic barricades that blocked a public street have been dismantled, but the embassy continues to receive exceptional protection by the Indian government. If anything, security has been stepped up recently.
However, securing immunities and privileges for U.S. officials abroad is best done by respecting international conventions and according entitled courtesies in the United States.
Sridharan Madhusudhanan, Washington
The writer is press counsellor at India’s embassy to the United States.