Fresh controversy creates further diplomatic rift.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Fresh controversy between the US and India is brewing as details emerged that the American Embassy School (AES) in New Delhi may have a history of engaging in illegal hiring practices, as well as indulging in tax evasion.
A New York Times report has uncovered that the AES instructs female teachers whose husbands are also employed by the school to file themselves as housewives on their visa applications, rather than as teachers. They also note that “no sexism is intended on our part” on the handouts given to new female instructors at the school, which commands tuitions north of $20,000 per year.
A senior official from India estimated for the Times that at least 16 of the teachers at AES were there illegally, a huge blow to the prestigious school’s reputation. Roughly 500 of the school’s 1,500 students are from America, with a further 20% from South Korea and the rest from about 12 other countries.
The allegedly illegal hiring practices are just the newest layer of bad relations that began on December 12, when Devyani Khobragade was arrested in New York City under charges of visa fraud and making false statements. And as if the new AES scandal isn’t enough, new details have surfaced about the diplomat and his wife who were asked to leave India last week just after Khobragade was indicted, and left for India.
Wayne and Alicia Muller May, who were employed at the US Department of State’s outpost in New Delhi, were found to have made disparaging remarks about Indians on various social media outlets. Comments they allegedly made include obnoxious statements like “It’s the vegetarians that are doing the raping, not the meat eaters,” “[India] was fun, dirty, smelly,” and “this place is just so bizarre.”
Wayne Muller was the head of security at the US Embassy in New Delhi, while his wife was the embassy’s community liaison officer. Although several have said that the comments were relatively inoffensive – one commentator in TIME Magazine called them “frivolous” – few would argue that they’re particularly offensive coming from two people in the upper echelon of the US diplomatic corps.
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