IVANKA GOES TO INDIA

Years ago a group of us conducted a pada yatra from Sambalpur, the western city of Odisha, to Sevagram, Gandhji's ashram near Wardha, Maharashtra. During our journey we stopped at villages and towns and were enthusiastically greeted as guests by local people. Regardless of their own situation, Indians invariably show affection toward outsiders. Based on that personal experience from that era, it was no surprise to me that Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump received an enthusiastic welcome in India when she attended the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad. Ivanka represented the United States. Indians are used to seeing occupiers of high positions appointing their daughters to high profile jobs. When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was prime minister, Indira Gandhi represented India at UNESCO. Her aunt Vijay Laxmi Pandit was ambassador to various national capitals.

For publicity and image, Ivanka Trump's presence was a good match for Indian organizers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed her and in the conference she said all the right things. She praised India's 6.5% annual growth. She talked about empowering women in business and pleaded for providing them with easy credits.

Both Prime Minister Modi and President Trump have bonded well. Modi's Party is known for its communal stance. Trump's Muslim bashing and ban on Muslims from certain countries are seen as a positive thing by many BJP supporters. Ivanka could help strengthen ties between the two governments. In order to strengthen democracy in Afghanistan the US needs India. In the same way, India needs America's business and money to make progress. In today's interdependent world both countries are natural allies. So they need each other more than ever.

No matter how much Ivanka Trump peddles American good will to India and vice versa, the relationship between the two countries is based on mutual respect and cooperation. The way of enhancing this role, Ivanka had very little to offer. She is not a public figure in her own right - like Nicki Haley or Madeline Albright. Her glory is the reflection of her father who now occupies the White House. In the way of inspiring women entrepreneurs in India she also could be a poor role model. Because every woman does not have the connection or easy access to money like she has. She did not have to start from scratch like many Indian women have to do. Like her father who got into real estate with a heavy dose of money from his father, Ivanka's pedigree helped her to establish herself as a business executive. Like many female business executives in India she is scouting for business. She does not yet have a fortune 500 company.

For Indian women who are in business the most important asset has been their family ties. Daughters, sisters, wives and cousins in many business houses sit on the board the family patriarch started or left behind. One way or other these women are connected to the government and its decision making process. Banks work under their thumbs. So credit or recognition is not an issue with people whom Ivanka Trump met or addressed. The problem is at the bottom level Ms. Trump would never have a chance to meet with those women. They have small businesses at mom and pop levels whose economic woes are more because of social injustice than anything else. Caste, for them, is a barrier. The shortage of adequate health care becomes more important than getting credit. The list goes on. Like other governments before it, the Modi government is trying to address their concerns. However, the issues are interconnected for which a comprehensive solution is needed. The government has not yet found one. It is a good thing that the present government of India feels comfortable with the current administration in the United States. Several Trump projects are taking place in India and some of the BJP names are connected with them. The use of public positions for private gain has become a common sight. That is why Andrew Jackson, the Second American President said "It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes".


Comments on this article/book
Name  
Email(Optional)  
Comment