Mehak Vashist –
As reported in Indian Newslink (July 1, 2015) the Indian government recalled its High Commissioner to New Zealand Ravi Thapar following allegations that his wife Sharmila abused and assaulted their domestic help.
Mr Thapar denied the allegations and the Indian Government also took swift action to settle the issue. But the media came to know and the news made headlines in New Zealand and India.
Mr Thapar belongs to the Indian Foreign Service, an elite group to which only 1% of one million applicants are shortlisted.
With the growing Indian population in New Zealand and the increase in the number of clients, the Indian High Commission and its services are very crucial.
About three weeks ago, I asked listeners during my show ‘Sunday at 5’ (on Radio Tarana) to rate the consular services provided by the Mission. The number of people voicing their dismay made it clear that there were shortcomings.
As the two-hour programme progressed, Mr Thapar called the Tarana Studio to say that if there were ‘too many complaints,’ the High Commission would be compelled to outsource its services, leading to increased costs for customers.
Clearly such a ‘threat’ was no solution to the problem. I had expected the High Commissioner, who is the head of the Indian diplomatic mission would offer suggestions for improvement and encourage people to have faith in his officials.
Instead he left us with the impression that he was doing a favour with his unsolicited call.
High profile jobs especially with the government are often enjoyed like a cocktail which can be intoxicating.
On the domestic help row, Mr Thapar refused to cooperate with the Police to complete their investigations, claiming diplomatic immunity. He is also reported to have instructed his staff at the Mission and at his official residence not to speak with the police.
The cook, who was assaulted by Mrs Thapar, unknowing saved a diplomatic incident by not pursuing his complaint, deciding to return to his home country.
The ‘Thapar Episode’ has left an indelible mark on India’s fine diplomatic traditions and quality Foreign Service. It can only be covered by a better-performing successor and better-serving High Commission officials.
Mehak Vashist is a Reporter and Programme Presenter at Radio Tarana, The above article however represents her personal views. Please read ‘Chatters jam telephone traffic at High Commission’ in this Section.