Even as 43 Indian diplomats face various charges of corruption and dereliction of duty, India managed to circumvent a major diplomatic row in New Zealand where the domestic help of high commissioner Ravi Thapar (IFS officer of the 1983) complained of assault.

According to The Hindustan Times, “India recalled its top diplomat in New Zealand Saturday following allegations that his wife had assaulted a kitchen staff member who apparently told the police that he was “kept in slavery”.”

Ravi Thapar in a  file photo. Image courtesy: Facebook page of Indian High Commission in WellingtonRavi Thapar in a  file photo. Image courtesy: Facebook page of Indian High Commission in Wellington

Ravi Thapar in a file photo. Image courtesy: Facebook page of Indian High Commission in Wellington

However, both the staff member and the diplomat have been recalled in time to avoid a full blown controversy. Reports suggest that a night shelter in Wellington got in touch with the Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson for help after the staff complained of assault by Thapar’s wife Sharmila.

However, unlike what happened in the Devyani Khobragade case in New York, the Indian government took quick action.

The Hindustan Times reports, “The service staff member came back to the envoy’s residence only after the special team external affairs ministry in Delhi met him. What helped the government was the fact that the staff member did not press charges and that his only demand was to allow him to go home at the earliest.”

Thapar’s recall has brought the focus back on the conduct of the country’s diplomats posted abroad. As per official figures, six complaints against officials in Indian missions were received in 2012, 10 in 2013 and 27 in 2014.

A maximum of eight complaints each have been received from the missions in the UK and in Madagascar in the last three years.

Complaints have also been received against Indian Embassy staff in Afghanistan, Austria, Canada, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Botswana, Thailand, Zambia, Mauritius, Morocco, Netherlands, South Africa and Mali.

According to The Economic Times, “The Ministry External Affairs is said to have put in place a mechanism for stricter vigilance and prompt action against erring officers posted in various Indian diplomatic missions.”

Some of the complaints are against low-ranking officials and locally-hired staff and the cases are being dealt with as per laid down procedures, he said.

Sources told The Economic Times, “it not only the IFS but also officials from other services, including IAS and IPS, and junior officers, who be be under the scanner now.”

Meanwhile, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said, “Action is being taken in all 43 cases as per established procedure,”

“The Ministry takes seriously any complaint that it receives about the performance of its missions and posts abroad. Complaints are dealt with as per established and prescribed procedures.”

With PTI inputs

Original article – 

Ravi Thapar controversy: How India avoided a Khobragade-like diplomatic situation in New Zealand