27 diplomats abroad under government scanner

At least 27 Indian diplomats posted overseas are facing charges related to corruption, harassment and dereliction of duty over the last year, South Block sources told The Sunday Express. Sources said that this “worrying trend” has led to concern at the top levels of the government, especially because the number of diplomats facing such charges for 2014-15 is almost thrice that of 2013-14 (10), and over four times more than in 2012-13 (6).

The latest numbers do not include the Indian envoy to New Zealand, who has been recalled to New Delhi to face a probe into allegations that his wife assaulted a member of their domestic staff. Of the 27 facing investigation, five are in Indian missions in the UK, five in Madagascar, three each in Kazakhstan and Kenya, two each in Botswana and Mali, and one each in Afghanistan, Austria, Italy, Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands and Thailand. Sources said the charges against these diplomats were being investigated by various committees set up by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA); some of these panels include officials from other ministries and agencies depending on the gravity of the charges.

“Ever since the new NDA government has come to power, the probity of officials is being given high priority. Complaints against officials and diplomats, who are posted overseas, are taken very seriously by the MEA. The high number could be a reflection of the better responsiveness as compared to previous years,” a government official told The Sunday Express. Sources said that unlike earlier, the ministry now investigates anonymous complaints against Indian officials as well. However, they added that in such cases, only those charges that are found to have some merit in a preliminary probe are taken further.

“Earlier, complaints against Indian embassy officials would go unheeded. But now, senior officials of the government and even the External Affairs Minister and the Prime Minister can be reached by the Indian community overseas through social media. And they pro-actively respond. This means that complaints cannot be brushed under the carpet anymore,” an official said.

Source: Indian Express