Time to indulge US is over, India must keep it strictly reciprocal

  • Varghese K George, Hindustan Times, New De;jo
  • Updated: Dec 20, 2013 00:24 IST

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh landed in the US in September, he was received at the Andrews Air Force base by a junior protocol official; when he went to the White House to meet President Barack Obama, the American secret service did not allow Indian SPG to enter the compound, before or along with him.

Only two cars were allowed — one in which the PM himself travelled and a second vehicle in which several senior officials such as the NSA, foreign secretary and others had to bundle in.

Contrast this with what happens when any US official visits India. Forget Obama, who was received at the airport by the Indian Prime Minister. When Hillary Clinton and John Kerry visited, their armed guards swamped the residence of the Indian Prime Minister.

During Obama’s visit, US secret service did not allow Delhi police vehicles in Hyderabad House. During an Army Day tea party, the US ambassador broke into Indian PM’s enclosure along with a junior embassy staff. While the Indian PM happily engaged the ambassador, the junior staff held Indian defence minister’s shoulder while chatting with him!

Within the Indian government there is a fear of the Americans — who will bell the cat. The MEA once told the Union home ministry that all diplomats must get the same treatment at the airport. The MHA wanted a written request to that effect.

Now that the Americans are throwing the rule book at India, India must reciprocate. And India has enough laws that make everyone on the wrong side of some. If the system in America so allows a district prosecutor to judge the culpability to an Indian diplomat, the Indian system must not only allow the same rights to, but even empower, an equivalent official in India to do same thing regarding American diplomats.

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