An Open Letter to Preet Bharara from an Outraged Fellow Indian

Dear Preet Bharara,

It is evident to most Indians, residing in India, that you are one of those stuck-up persons of Indian origin who neither speaks nor understands any of our languages, sees no Bollywood films, finds baseball more interesting than cricket, dislikes Indian weddings and never visits India even to check out how the country of your birth is doing.

It is impossible to believe that you were actually born in Ferozepur, India, and breathed the air that we breathe for almost two years, drank the water that we drink and possibly even learnt the rudiments of the language that we speak before your parents whisked you away to the U.S.A. If it wasn't for your name, it would be difficult to believe that there was anything Indian about you at all. For your own good, maybe you should have changed your name soon after you got to the U.S.A.

We hate your good looks, your success and your in-your-face un-Indianness. But most of all we hate the fact that you still sport an Indian name. In fact, you had a better chance of getting away with a name like Peter Bleach. Remember how easily we let him go? You could, of course argue that the charges against him were simple smuggling of lethal weapons whereas you are charged with actually waging war against privileged & elite Indians of the untouchable kind.

Truth be told, it was for this reason that we did our best to pass you off as a Khalistani to start with but, as more and more people Googled, this lie became difficult to sustain. Usually we don’t allow facts to come in the way of our prejudices but we do need to make the occasional concessions.

Sangeeta Richard, the maid
In a nutshell, we hate you. At least as much as we think that you hate us. We think you wish to destroy everything we have always stood for - our culture, our values, our petulance and our prejudices. We think you are evil.

Having said all that, destiny has forced us to deal with each other. It seems you will not easily relent. We are reluctant to back down either till the next 'breaking news' scandal hits the ceiling, hopefully by early next week. And so, let me make one last-ditch effort to save our two democracies from the path of mutual destruction that you seem to have embarked on, so recklessly.

As you may know we are an ancient culture. There is much that we have thrown away but there is a lot that we have retained too. Here are some of the rich traditions we continue to cherish which you may do well to consider.

1. 'Naukars/ Naukranis', more recently referred to as domestic help, are there to listen, obey and perform, not to talk back or complain. That a 'naukrani' could report a 'memsahib (Madam)' to the police, even if provoked by someone, is quite unheard of and simply cannot be tolerated.

In our personal value systems cutting across all religions and faiths in India, the 'naukrani' Sangeeta’s behaviour is unacceptable. Much of the angst against her arises out of this simple fact. By daring Devyani, she dared one of us and that is unacceptable. The 'naukrani' must realize his or her place in society, failing which, there may be upheavals of epic and nasty proportions.

Uttam Khobragade,  Devyani's father
2. Entering into two contracts is no crime in our country. For us it is easy to understand that what we write for ‘official purposes’ can be quite different from what it actually is. Whether it is adding names in the ration-card or under-declaring our age, we understand perfectly that truth can have several different dimensions. No less than a recent Army Chief had to contend with two dates of birth in his records and no one in India found it odd. Post retirement, he is on his way to becoming a political luminary.

3. Paying the 'naukrani' Sangeeta just a fraction of the minimum wage is no crime. Many among us don’t even manage to make two thousand dollars a month till we are in our forties or fifties and sometimes not even then. To even think therefore that anyone among us would be foolish enough to pay anything over that amount a month, including notional costs for board & lodging, to a mere 'naukrani' is absurd.

No matter how much the government may increase overseas allowances etc., no Indian worth his or her salt will actually pay anything even remotely close to four thousand dollars p.m. to his/her domestic help. Just think of it as a culture thing and a given.

4. There are no ‘working hours’ for domestic help living on our premises. If she is at home and available, she is assumed to be available for work. This does not, by the way, mean that the employees are forced to work round-the-clock. In most cases, domestic help work anywhere between 12 to 16 hours with a couple of hours of rest thrown in here & there.

5. Holidays and weekly-offs are not at all the norm and are left solely to the discretion of the employer. Most 'naukars / naukranis ' consider them unexpected bonuses and brag about it to their fellow servants when they can. Most of them do get paid vacations for anywhere between two to four weeks in a year, though, when such a vacation can be availed of is usually subject to protracted negotiations with the employer.

Unsurprisingly, most of us believe that it was the 'naukrani', Sangeeta Richard who cast the first stone and who therefore deserves to be punished thoroughly. Most of us also believe that cute Devyani Khobragade should actually be honoured for having given us a chance to fight for our inalienable rights and uphold our ancient culture. Irrespective of whatever you may choose to do, we in India feel that for this courageous act of upholding our culture in a foreign land, Devyani Khobragade deserves at least the Padma Vibhushan which we will undoubtedly bestow on her the moment you let her travel back to her motherland. Do bear in mind that she has offers to join from several political parties and could very well be a State or even a Central Minister in a few years while you continue to languish as a U.S. District Attorney.

Finally, as an Indian, I feel outraged that you, Preetinder S. Bharara, in a spirit of one-upmanship and vendetta, are throwing the rule book at us. Rules to us in India? Maybe you should visit us for a few days and check out things for yourself. Do bear in mind though that after this declaration of war against a privileged IFS official from your original motherland, you will need adequate protection during such a visit to prevent politicians and news channel anchors from lynching you while you are here. However, such a visit will not only open your eyes about the reality in India but may also induce you to go back to your adopted motherland and live in serendipity just as millions of Indians do.

Sukhvinder K S Bedi

Devyani Khobragade

In case of any lingering doubts, let me clarify unequivocally that this is a purely satirical piece. While there would be several Sukhvinder K.S. Bedi's in this world, all of them honourable men no doubt, none of them happen to be quite known to me so, the name of this letter-writer is a figment of my imagination. The contents are based on something generally along similar lines, that +Rajive Chandra had shared with me earlier. 

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