India deftly dealt a one – two diplomatic counter combination of punches leaving the United States with more questions than answers as it scrambled for an effective response to Dr.Jaishankar’s rather blunt and (some might say) provocative bait to America in a globally televised media event.

Diplomatic echelons around the world sucked in their breath and watched in stunned silence as India’s EAM did and said the unthinkable to America on American soil by questioning the United States ON ITS OWN chequered human rights record.

Some might say the U.S had it coming but India’s usually soft demeanour and its decades old penchant for submissive, accommodative diplomacy was wrapped in a disposable diplomatic pouch and thrown out of the window to be replaced with a mean set of disruptive bare knuckled punching gloves as (ironically) the gloves came off in Washington on the penultimate day of a crucially important 2+2 meet with America flagged off by Modi & Biden in a virtual tête a tête.

A day before, Blinken blinked as Jaishankar naughtily mocked the Americans for pressurising India on Russian energy purchases while conveniently ignoring their EU  allies and their relentless purchase of oil & gas from the Russians in the middle of a full blown, sanction laced war.

Well guess what?

If the, not so veiled, reference to Europe by the Doctor was the curtain raiser, then today was an explosive climax of the standard human rights bogey  that America, the world’s worst abuser of human rights, uses as a stick to patronise and browbeat countries (that refuse to toe its line)into submission while cloaking and justifying  its own actions and sanctions in fancy jargon ranging from  ”shared secular values” to ”democratic ethos” to ”human capital ” and ”right to equality, liberty and non-discrimination for citizens of a free world”

The Biden administration, under pressure from its own  left wing, Islamist & Kashmir apologist congress representatives led by  Ilhan Omar and Ro Khanna, made the cardinal mistake of diluting the critically important 2+2 meeting  by getting Antony Blinken to ”lightly” touch upon human rights in India, the most ethnically diverse melting pot of cultures, languages and lifestyles .

The subsequent reaction and the highly public and acerbic counter by Jaishankar questioning the United States on its own human resource management must have left the Americans red faced and probably surprised many including possibly Dr. Jaishankar himself.

But now that it’s done and out in the open in a historic first, something seems to have intrinsically changed in the Indo-U.S dynamics as far as the touchy issue of human rights between the two is concerned.

Make no mistake. The ENTIRE western world took note of this sharp exchange which ought to serve as a reminder to all wannabe preachers that India is more than willing to accommodate contrarian views with strategic allies as long as the red line drawn yesterday isn’t crossed.

Will it remain that way or will it lead to repeated skirmishes with the west going forward?

The newly forged Indo-American strategic partnership however, remains strong as ever with Joe Biden taking great pains to point out that India and the U.S share the most important and valuable relationship in today’s world which is saying a lot.

Only time will tell but an assertive if not aggressive message has been delivered which was hitherto thought impossible for India to articulate so dextrously.

Let’s wait and watch to see how the cookie crumbles