December 23rd, 2013
05:26 PM ET

India at a crossroads

Watch ‘India at a Crossroads,’ a GPS special, this Sunday at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN

The United States walked into a skirmish this past week. Not with China, not with Iran…but with India.

Why are Indians so angry at America? Well, they say that the United States mistreated an Indian consular worker, who was arrested for allegedly falsifying a visa application for her live-in maid, and for paying that maid less than a third of the U.S. minimum wage.

The facts of the case continue to emerge. But the incident highlights that for all their similarities – big democracies, Asian partners – India and America are very different societies.

Despite its impressive growth, India remains quite poor. Even if the consular worker’s maid was being paid only $300 a month, she was still making two-and-a-half times the national average. Second, India has a recent history of diplomats being involved with visa fraud. This shouldn't be surprising, unfortunately. India ranks 94th in the world for transparency. You encounter corruption every day in India.

And lastly, why are Indian politicians feeding all this outrage? Well, Indian politicians have always been masters of self-righteous indignation. But also, they're up for elections next year. With some 700 million eligible voters, this will be the greatest exercise in democracy the world has ever seen.

All those topics are part of a GPS special report on India. It’s called “India at a Crossroads.” The program airs this Sunday in our regular timeslot. You can watch the video for a small preview about how Indians are trying to tackle some of their worst social ills…but in a decidedly modern way that maybe owes something to Oprah Winfrey.

You'll have to watch the full hour to get a sense of how India is dealing with all its problems. But if you want to understand where this huge, chaotic country is headed, this is must-see television.

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Topics: GPS Show • India

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Pat

    The tenor of the above summary is this: "Let's try and understand the challenges India faces because of which she reacted the way she did last week. She is more to be pitied than censured as Wodehouse would have said. As Americans we have nothing to introspect about, we are cat's whiskers, we are the economic and ethical barometer of the world. The rest need to be pegged by our supreme standards."

    December 24, 2013 at 5:34 am |
    • Jigyasa

      I could not have said it better , this preview was off-putting. Granted this is one person's opinion but on a forum/platform such as this it cannot afford to be lop-sided if it were to hold its efficacy. All in all a let down.

      December 30, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  2. ✠RZ✠

    In case anyone hasn't noticed lately, our policies and activities, domestic and foreign, are under pretty severe scrutiny and criticism. Let's hope Dan Shapiro is careful not to flatulate anywhere in Israel. Goodness knows what might come of it.

    December 24, 2013 at 6:40 am |
  3. RajK

    Same old game of lecturing India is back again it seems. Its not Indian politicians who have made noise. Its the Indian public who has forced the politicians to tell Americans in clear terms that they need to behave and follow the same rule. How come Raymond Davis was given full diplomatic immunity when he was not a diplomat even remotely. Americans will see more and more of such reactions from world over.

    December 24, 2013 at 7:34 am |
  4. Gary


    this is a bad article but a good advertisement for this guy's tv show!

    December 24, 2013 at 11:34 am |
  5. Javeed

    If we bleave in the comments posted by some RajK, then Indian public in general are promoters of frauds and corruption. Mr. Raj non from Indian public will allow any body to make frauds, or promote corruption in India or other parts of the world. I said if the diplomat is found guilty, She should be treated at par as other Americans are being treated in that Country and it should be cleared once for all that any one whether big or small, rich or poor across creed cast and religion is found guilty in India or abroad will be punished to maximum for their deeds. Mr. Raj why don't you realize, You are defending a shame.

    December 25, 2013 at 2:12 am |
  6. mchellap

    It says that comments are not pre-screened, but in this case I wonder where mine went 🙂
    Best of luck with your credibility CNN.

    December 25, 2013 at 6:28 am |
  7. sekhars

    India is a evolving democracy and far from perfect where people in politics, bureaucrats, industrialist, media and family houses involved in a corrupt racket to lead the nation while taking advantage of poor citizen to rule the country. Major cause of this is related with policies of INC who ruled India for over 55+ years out of its 65+ years of existence. The bars were so much lowered by Indira Gandhi for politics that led to total collapse of good governance since early 70s.
    There is a much more aware younger generation now which is very socially connected and may change India as technology becomes more cheaper and accessible. Recent surge of another party in election -AAP also indicate that curtain is ready to fall on INC soon.

    On the other hand US is the only nation which interfere in others business both directly and indirectly. Some of the issues raised by Indians are correct though i believe that the real motive of indian stance is not to address US double standard but is politically motivated corrupt decision makers at the helm of losing their job as there are many more important issues around India and US than this current diplomatic row.

    December 25, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
  8. j. von hettlingen

    The maid of the Indian "consular worker" was paid $300 a month and "she was still making two-and-a-half times the national average".
    But the maid lives in New York. Life is expensive in the Big Apple. No doubt she has to toil long hours daily in order to earn the pittance. Apart from sending some money home, she has little left over for herself.

    December 26, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • sri

      There have been more developments to this case. Apparently this was not a fraud by the officer but a misreading of th einformation supplied. While the officer entered her own salary of $4500 in the online form, the prosecution understood this as the salary to be paid to the maid. That seems to be the crux of the issue. This seems to be no more than an immigration fraud done by the maid.

      December 30, 2013 at 12:26 am |
  9. palintwit

    I think that it is on the Anonymous turn when it is not in a big problem in Chinese information control propaganda and human rights being mysterious and is considerably covered the treasure information in China

    December 26, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  10. harpat

    The maid must have been given food and shelter. It is not possible to live in New York on $300 or in most any US city. Then she would have very little other expense and can send some money home. Many poor Indians would happily accept this offer and in that way the consular worker probably felt it was justifiable. What she apparently did not realize that in USA laws can be routinely broken as in India. Falsification of records is such an ingrained behavior in India most people don't think twice about it.

    December 29, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • sri

      Her stated pay was $1560.
      the maid was paid Rs 30000 to her account in india (this used to be $600 about a year ago). She was paid about $500 in the US and the balance about $400 was considered towards boarding lodging and other expenses and not given in hand. This roughly works to $1560 pm her medical was taken car of by the Govt of india.

      December 30, 2013 at 12:30 am |
  11. chrissy

    @ harpat, you cannot possibly be trying to justify what that cosuler worker did are you?? When in a foreign country you must follow the laws of that country. Look whats happening in other countries when you dont follow their laws. Ignorance is no excuse and you can just bet the consuler worker CLAIMS she had all kinds of Employee expenses that are totally inaccurate. Fraud is fraud no matter who you are and expenses in the US are a great deal more than India!

    December 29, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • sri

      george Bush lied about WMD in Iraq and is living happily?

      December 30, 2013 at 12:31 am |
  12. chrissy

    Yea aint that something @ sri? He lied about alot of things and hasnt been prosecuted on anything, but if he ever leaves the country he can be arrested for warcrimes.

    December 30, 2013 at 12:37 am |
  13. mchellap

    The only visa fraud in the case is being facilitated by the DA. It's been amusing watching this evolve really because the maid has successfully gamed the US system. Well almost... First of all, she's been with the same employer in two other countries before and was hardly duped on any part of the wage arrangement. She decided to disappear after landing in the States, and tried to extort 10,000 USD plus immigration assistance out of her employer. When this didn't work out, she's sued in order to get a T1 visa which is supposed to be used for genuine victims of human trafficking.

    The wage structure incidentally is part of several agreements between the Indian side and the US embassy. So logically if the US wants to take a stance that they are really rescuing someone from human trafficking they should treat the Indian govt and all the various govts around the world with similar agreements as organized crime rings. This person was paid more than fairly – her wage alone was in excess of the minimum wage, just split between a US component and India component. And, she got a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan, paid cable tv, paid visits to India, and a bunch of other things.

    The US state department has massively screwed up, and one too many times. The US gets very preferential treatment around the globe in how their Consular officers are treated and that may start to go away once implements strict reciprocity. All for what purpose? I think neither the US govt nor it seems the US media or general public has engaged brain in this entire episode.

    December 30, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  14. mchellap

    Anyway, Fareed Zakaria's show was great. It was very interesting, and some new topics were covered...
    But this blog doesn't do the show justice by focusing on this case in this particular writeup. Especially since it seems to have been so poorly researched unlike the usually well done GPS topics.

    I have to note that you see several viewpoints represented in the Indian media on this topic, some supporting the US actions (mostly from the left wing, trade unions etc). But as in many foreign policy issues in the US, there seems to be exactly one opinion, which is totally indistinguishable from the USG/State department worldview. Considering they're hardly going to be in a hurry to criticize their handling of the issue, this is not the role that media is supposed to play in a mature democracy.

    December 30, 2013 at 11:40 am |
  15. DocUsa

    Show was informative but certain items needed updates/disclaimers such as Mr. modi was found not guilty and Aap's Win etc.

    January 3, 2014 at 5:33 pm |
  16. Zotster

    The massive extent of slavery and corruption within India could not occur without the connivance of everyone in their political system. This tempest-in-a-teapot their politicians have stirred up is just a distraction technique.

    January 14, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
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  18. Edmund Lotzer

    pretty practical stuff, overall I feel this is well worth a bookmark, thanks

    December 20, 2020 at 6:39 pm |

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