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Proposal to ensure increased wages for domestic helps revived

The proposal would have eventually led to better wages for domestic helps.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
December 21, 2013 2:36:50 am

Though cases involving Indian diplomats and their domestic helps have come to light in the past as well,the government has not learnt from the incidents. According to sources,a proposal to accord India-based domestic assistants — an official term for domestic helps — a government employee’s status was stuck in bureaucracy between the Ministries of External Affairs and Finance. The proposal would have eventually led to better wages for domestic helps. Now,after the diplomatic row between India and the US,the proposal has been revived.

According to sources,the proposal was sent to the Finance Ministry about six to seven months ago,but since it involved a financial burden on the government,it did not make any headway. The proposal would have entailed better wages according to Indian government’s pay scale and would not be covered under American laws. Sources said the Finance Ministry had raised queries about pension and other ancillary issues.

Now,the proposal has been revived by the External Affairs Ministry,which has sent it to the Finance Ministry yet again.

In 2010,Indian diplomat Neena Malhotra and her husband Jogesh Malhotra had been ordered by New York Magistrate Judge Frank Maas to pay $1.46 million to their maid Shanti Gurung.

IFS officer Neena Malhotra served as a Press and Culture Counselor at the Indian Consulate in New York City from 2006-2009. She brought Gurung to work as her maid in 2006. US court documents reveal that Gurung’s complaint of July 1,2010 alleged non-payment of promised wages. She also complained that her documents were seized,travel was restricted,and she was not permitted to call her family.

The legal battle ended in a big victory for Gurung. The court recommended that Malhotras must pay Gurung $1.46 million,including her legal fees.

Neena Malhotra could not be contacted,despite repeated attempts on Friday.

In June 2011,Santosh Bharadwaj,a former housekeeper,had sued India’s then Consul General in New York Prabhu Dayal,accusing him of intimidating her into a year of forced labour. A year later,he reportedly settled the case on undisclosed terms.

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