Monday, December 23, 2013

The Devyani Khobragade Case, Domestic Workers, And India's Feudal Tradtion

The Devyani Khobragade arrest is bringing attention to the problem of exploited domestic workers, both in the United States and in India.

The BBC had this report over the weekend, New York maids protest at Indian consulate:

Domestic workers who were exploited and abused in the US by foreign diplomats have held a rally outside the Indian consulate in New York.

-- snip --

The protestors outside the Indian consulate said they wanted to highlight the plight of the maid in the case. They are calling for all countries to agree minimum legal standards of work.

The Hindustani Times also covered the New York protest (here), and had more quotes than the BBC did from domestic employee labor unions and victim assistance groups.

For how this matter is perceived within India, see this most interesting Agence France-Presse story that explains why India's government and society seem to think that it is Devyani Khobragade who is the victim here, and not her domestic employee: plight of Indian maid in U.S. brings little concern back home.

That AFP story quotes a report that describes India as the world's largest exploiter of bonded domestic labor:  
According to the Global Slavery Index report released in October: "an estimated 13.95 million people in India are victims of forced labor — almost half of the world’s slave population. Domestic service is a key area of concern."

“The central government has completely ignored the conditions of domestic workers,” said Anannya Bhattacharjee, executive council member of the New Trade Union Initiative, who is based in northern Haryana state.

“It’s part of Indian feudal tradition. There’s always talk of domestic workers being ‘part of the family,’ but they want to be treated as workers,” she said.

-- snip --

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, points out that millions of mostly women and girls perform crucial jobs around the world as domestic helpers, often enabling employers to pursue careers.

But she said that in India and elsewhere, they remain “among the most exploited” despite a new international treaty adopted in 2011 to improve their rights.

“India should sign the Domestic Workers Convention, encourage domestic workers to organize, and ensure that their complaints of abuse, including sexual abuse, are promptly addressed,” Ganguly said.

The Global Slavery Index is a product of the Walk Free Foundation. Its 2013 country report on India was summarized as follows:
The country with the largest estimated number of people in modern slavery is India, which is estimated to have between 13,300,000 and 14,700,000 people enslaved. The India country study suggests that while this involves the exploitation of some foreign nationals, by far the largest proportion of this problem is the exploitation of Indians citizens within India itself, particularly through debt bondage and bonded labour.

The entire India country report is here.

The term "modern slavery" shouldn't be used without real cause, but the exploitation of domestic workers in India is so severe, and so immune from legal consequence, that it may legitimately be described as slavery.


James said...

Merry Christmas TSB and GWB!

TSB said...

James, you beat me to it!!

Gentlemen, have a very merry Christmas. I'll watch my traditional Christmas Eve movie tonight - The Crossing - and sip hot chocolate before the fire while the Continental Army bayonets Hessians. I hope you'll both enjoy the holiday as much as I will.

PS - I'll resume with a new post about the Indian Consul situation right after Christmas. Since it will be about strip-searching, propriorty requires a little distance.

Anonymous said...

Ho,Ho,Ho James!, TSB, Merry Christmas and happy 4th anniversary of the ACA... next year we get to find out what's in it! Keep those tweets and posts coming! gwb

Anonymous said...

Thanks TSB! I gotta get some egg nog for that one!! gwb

James said...

While I await, a heart tugging, inspiring Christmas Story:

Anonymous said...

James: 'THE CROSSING' much more inspirational than Cheech and Chong Santa! gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Merry Christmas from my wife who will be watching 'The Crossing
today now that she found out Jeff Daniels was in it! gwb

TSB said...

Jeff Daniels was a really good George Washington! For my money, The Crossing is even better than Die Hard as a Christmas movie. (Or, a movie occurring at Christmas, as opposed to a movie about Christmas.) Either one is a welcome change from It's a Wonderful Life; do you realize that if only Uncle Billy could hold his liquor, there would have been no reason for George Bailey to go through all that grief?

James said...

I don't doubt you're correct GWB, but Christmas is a loooong night for Santa with lots to do.

Anonymous said...


TSB said...

GWB: Ah-ha! I love that scene of the Hessians in the meadow getting overwhelmed before they could achieve their formation and counterattack. Today, the Army would call that something lame and jargon-y like 'getting inside their OODA loop,' but back then it was just 'run up and give them the cold steel.' Simple and to the point, literally and figuratively.

Anonymous said...

TSB: This looks like a great read by the former Pakistan Ambassador Haqqani: Magnificent Delusions Dulles actually thought the Pakistani's were Gherkas until Eisenhower finally told him they were only interested in defeating India. We've been locked in ever since.

and when Weinstein says Obama has forgotten him I'm wondering if he knows that his best bet is probably for his family to go on Fox news and start calling for John Kerry to get going on this? gwb

TSB said...

GWB: John Foster Dulles probably appreciated the anti-India angle; as a young man, he had spent a year or so as a school teacher in the British Indian Empire, and it left him with a distaste for empire.

The Weinstein situation is tragic, but there is nothing the USG can do for him. We aren't going to trade with al-Qaeda, and if we did, it would only lead to more kidnappings. We've been there in the 1970s and '80s and we aren't going back.

Weinstein is a private citizen working for an economic development consulting firm that has contracts with both USAID and private clients in Pakistan. Once he chose to live in Lahore, he put himself beyond any assistance the USG could give him, and I'm sure he knew that. If the USG is at fault here, it's (arguably) with USAID for not insisting that its program partners employ only non-U.S. citizens inside Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

TSB: I'm sure you are right about Weinstein but aren't there many other individuals in the same situation as him? How come none of them have fallen victim to the same guys? Is their personal security that good running around the country as private contractors? gwb

TSB said...

GWB: I think there are very few other U.S. citizens living in Pakistan, and hardly any living as Weinstein did. Many of them are married to locals and dug in to local networks, or dual nations and basically not identifiable as Gringos. The USA has warned citizens to defer "non-essential" travel to Pakistan for many years now.

Business types might live in protected compounds, or live somewhere safe like Dubai and visit Pakistan only when necessary. But Weinstein was living in a simple home in an ordinary neighborhood with no particular protection, maybe because he was an old-school economic development specialist and regarded that as the most 'authentic' way to engage the culture. Despite their hefty salaries and advanced ages, those guys still act like Peace Corps volunteers.

I understand that USAID has a policy of reviewing security plans for the U.S. citizens who work for its program contractors in Pakistan. Whether that was done in Weinstein's case, whether or not he complied with any recommendations, whether that review is even enforceable contractually, I have no way of knowing.

It's a bad situation, and it likely will not end well unless AQ gives up on the blackmail and releases Weinstein on compassionate grounds.

TSB said...

GWB: One thing I forgot to add re USAID contractors in Pakistan. Several years ago, a U.S. citizen employee to a program contractor was killed while delivering a cash payroll to local employees around Peshawar. That incident didn't cause a ripple of controversy so far as I could see. Maybe because the motive was robbery vice terrorism. Still, it made me think that the bar has been set very low for security of U.S. cits doing development work in Pakistan. There is a lingering sense that those guys are doing good works and have a spectral aura of immunity around them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks TSB... that explains it well. gwb

Lila Rajiva said...

Unfortunately, the whole thing is some kind of concocted case.

Under the UN's terms on trafficking, the maid cannot legally be a trafficked person, having come on a government of India passport.

Second, the NGO which conspired with a senior US diplomat in India to subvert the Indian judiciary is a very rich, corporate NGO, part of the Soros/CIA backed, government-funded network of human rights NGOs which are used in concert with intelligence to undermine and destabilize countries, as in the so-called color revolutions.

The same NGO behind the maid was liaising with Indian media in sensitive border areas at the very time the diplomat case was being concocted.

The anti-trafficking agenda is supported by the highest level of business as it coincides with strategic global interests of population control and surveillance.

The statistics manufactured for trafficking are bogus and exaggerated, as has been shown in multiple academic studies and exposes.
The modern slavery narrative, like the Indian rape crisis, is a manufactured crisis intended to justify human rights intervention, as happened in multiple other countries.

TSB said...


Thanks for your comment. While I share your skepticism of NGOs in general, I doubt that Safe Horizons was behind the departure of Sangeeta Richard's family from India (I assume that is the subversion of the Indian judiciary to which you refer), and it certainly had nothing to do with the arrest of Khobragade. It was the Indian judiciary itself that involved Richard's family when it sought to arrest her for initiating criminal charges in New York against her ex-employer. Bringing her family out of Indian jurisdiction was arguably necessary in order to pursue the criminal charges without retaliation against them.

The trafficking and anti-trafficking agendas aside, there seems to be a very clear case of visa fraud against Khobragade. I don't see how the U.S. authorities could ignore that matter after it was brought to their attention. The diplomatic crisis that followed was unfortunate, but it might have been avoided.

According to the Indian Embassy in Washington, the U.S. government notified them of the fraud charges against Khobragade three months before she was arrested. Reading between the lines, there must have been extensive government-to-government efforts to resolve the situation short of arresting her. If those efforts failed, then at least some of the blame must go to the Indian side.

I find the whole case very sad, not least because of the impact on Khobragade's own family, including two young children who are left behind in New York. However, the case is not at all concocted.

Lila Rajiva said...


Wayne May, the employer of the maid's in laws, is part of the State Dept Bureau of Security and in charge of a huge security force and liaison to the Delhi police. He was responsible, it seems, for stopping the Delhi police in investigating the original case for extortion brought by the diplomat in India, because the maid was on an official Indian passport. Just there, that precludes a trafficking case, which is why Bharara, after a lot of noise, did not charge her with trafficking. May was also responsible for evacuating Sangeeta out of the country which is total contempt of court, besides committing tax fraud, and being involved in buying and selling duty free goods. He is a neocon. Read his bio.
Safe Horizon is closely embedded in the NY judiciary (through court programs) and is part of the Freedom network, whose chief was in India at the very time of the case unfolding, in sensitive areas.
the whole "modern slavery" issue is drummed up by the Gates Foundation and this Australian billionaire, who after fighting the Rothschild-led mining tax in Australia, seems to have placated his foes by joining this modern slavery campaign. My blog has several posts on the exaggerated numbers and pure bullshit coming out of the antitrafficking programs. I'll post the links. I'd first suggest you read Tony Cartalucci's Land Destroyer Blog for the color revolution model

Yes, Devyani made a second contract, but that was at the maid's insistence and the maid had both that and her passport when she absconded, so she couldn't have been abused.
The US and Indian embassies had a wink wink arrangement allowing each other certain privileges. The Visa office signed off on all the other contracts knowing full well that the Indian maids were paid relative to what they'd make at home and were FULLY COVERED as to living expenses, medicals, utilities and food. That puts her in an enviable position compared to most US nannies, who wouldn't have been able to save a thing in their jobs. It was a set up pure and simple, timed to coincide with the foundation funded Kejrival AAP party.

Lila Rajiva said...

Laura Rozen is the only one with a clear view of the story.

Laura Rozen as @lrozen
#India pop. 1.24BN. But some uncanny 1-2 degrees removed aspects to characters in US/India dip/maid row. Hope some journo pursues deep dive

TSB said...


Thanks again for your comment. I can't agree, however, that Wayne May could have prevented the Indian police from investigating anything, or for getting Sangeeta's family visas to enter the U.S. He isn't a consular officer and able to approve visas, in the first place, and it the second place, the issuance of visas is strictly controlled by U.S. laws, and the issuance process is audited. Visas can't be given out as favors.

The criminal fraud case against Devyani seems simple enough to me. (Only the diplomatic consequences of arresting her are complicated.) I see no reason to entertain a conspiracy involving Bill Gates, George Soros, Indian political parties, NGOs, and even the color revolutions to explain why a U.S. Attorney charged her with a crime.

Anonymous said...

Someone also needs to analyze the famous Indophobe Barbara Crossette's "The Elephant In The Room: The biggest pain in Asia isn't the country you'd think" found at

It seems this woman Barbara Crossette, who is a pivotal member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations, is one of the brains and architects behind this NYC socialist NGO Feminazi Government within the US Government, which implements her ideas and policies through these NGOs Safe Horizon and Sanctuary for Families against Indians both in the United States and overseas.

This entire campaign is a Soft War against India and its foreign and domestic policy, wherein soft war is defined as a set of deliberately hostile acts aimed at transforming the fundamental cultural values and identities of a society.

This type of war can influence all social aspects of a political system, and can include such phenomena as “cultural invasions” and “psychological operations.” In other words, a soft war includes the following: (1) It is an intentional and planned activity; and (2) Its most important domains are cultural, political, and social.

The problem is Indian Intelligence isn't stupid, with Indians having invented the game of chess, and figured it all out pretty quickly, but not before many prominent Indians in the USA and India were taken to jail or character assassinated.