|By Nilova Roy Chaudhury||Published: December 2017|
New Delhi. She came, she wowed and she definitely conquered hearts in Hyderabad, capital of India’s youngest state, Telengana. She had the grace of a princess, and that is how she was accorded the welcome.
For Ivanka Trump, adviser and favourite child of US President Donald Trump, her visit to Hyderabad at the head of the US delegation for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) was a runaway success, providing her the global spotlight she did not receive even when her father became president.
For India, the gesture of hosting the GES and Ivanka was a huge diplomatic success and a chance to show arguably the world’s most powerful man that India can do things in a style which others have not been able to do so far; provide the US president’s daughter an unfettered, high- profile global platform.
An official told India Strategic that while “obviously there was no quid pro quo, the event was a bankable deposit of goodwill, on which India could draw dividends, if required.” President Trump tweeted his thanks and his appreciation and commended his daughter for a job well done.
Unlike this visit, on her earlier visits to other parts of the world, Ms Trump received more criticism than praise.
Her undoubted authority is apparent from her entry into the Forbes’ “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list at number 19 this year. Apart from being President Trump’s closest adviser, she is a fashion designer, an author and a businesswoman. She owns the fashion and lifestyle brand – The Ivanka Trump Collection.
A graduate in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, Ivanka has been a top executive in the family-owned Trump Organisation, and is the author of two books: The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life and Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success.
Ms Trump arrived in Hyderabad November 28, at the head of a US delegation of 350 to the three-day Global Entrepreneurship Summit held for the first time in South Asia at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC) and Hyderabad International Trade Expositions (Hitex). There were senior White house officials as well as American entrepreneurs in her delegation.
The theme of this eighth edition of the summit was ‘Women First, Prosperity for All.’ Over 1,200 young entrepreneurs attended the GES, from 100 countries, while delegates from 40 countries addressed the three-day meet. A majority of them were women.
Ms Trump has visited India before, but this was her first visit as a senior White House adviser. She was invited for the summit earlier this year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the US. Her reception and the aura surrounding her visit was befitting royalty and her security arrangements were on par with those made for the world’s top leaders.
The three-day GES was jointly co-hosted by India and the US this year. Prime Minister Modi and Ms Trump were welcomed to a resounding applause as they arrived at the inaugural ceremony, where they were greeted by Robot Mitra – or the Friend.
“The power to think differently and ahead of times for the betterment of mankind is what sets entrepreneurs apart. I see that power in India’s young generation today. I see 800 million potential entrepreneurs who can make our world a better place,” Mr Modi said while inaugurating the GES.
“The theme, ‘Women First, Prosperity for All’ makes this edition of GES stand out. In Indian mythology, women are an incarnation of Shakti- the Goddess of power. We believe women empowerment is vital to our development,” he said.
“Indian women continue to lead in different walks of life. Our space programmes, including the Mars Orbiter Mission, have had immense contribution from women scientists. Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams, both of Indian origin, have been part of US space missions,” the Indian PM said.
“The summit is being held for the first time in South Asia. It brings together, leading investors, entrepreneurs, academicians, think tanks and other stake holders to propel the global entrepreneurship ecosystem.”
Two top Cabinet colleagues of the Prime Minister, both women and members of the Cabinet Committee on Security, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman were part of the Indian delegation.
Among the ‘who’s who’ of participating women present were Cherie Blair, barrister and wife of former British PM Tony Blair; India’s young Miss World Manushi Chillar, tennis star Sania Mirza; author Shobhaa De; transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi; and Kuchipudi dancers Bhavna and Yamini Reddy. Along with leading entrepreneurs, top global CEOs and academicians also attended the GES.
Among the key aides and top CEOs and academicians accompanying Ms Trump was Dr Vivek Lall, Chief Executive, Commercial Strategic Development for General Atomics which makes the Predator drones and a new generation of electric propulsion system to launch aircraft from ships. Of Indian origin, Dr Lall’s graph has been rising progressively, across US administrations.
Ivanka Trump, herself an entrepreneur, said she was excited to see so many women entrepreneurs under one roof.
“I am proud to see that for the first time a majority of 1500 women entrepreneurs are participating in such an event. Only when women are empowered to thrive will our families, our economies, and our societies reach their fullest potential,” Ms Trump asserted in her address, pointing out: “Today, more than 11 million women in the US own businesses. Many women become entrepreneurs out of necessity. Fuelling the growth of women-led-businesses is not only good for the society but also the economy.”
“We are committed to supporting women and men both inside and outside of their homes. Women are more likely than men to hire other women. Here in India, I want to applaud PM Modi for his firm belief that the progress of a community is incomplete without empowering women.”
“For the first time ever, women make up 50 percent of the people selected for this summit,” Ms Trump said.
Over the last three decades women have made major progress in establishing businesses, however, “Women entrepreneurs got less than 3 percent funding to establish businesses in 2016,” she said in a speech that was substantive and very well received.
”If India closes the labor-force gender gap by half, your economy could grow by over $150 billion in the next three years,” she said, adding, “People of India inspire us all.”
Thanking Mr Modi, Ms Trump said, “Thank you PM Modi for joining us today, for making India a symbol of democracy and beacon of hope for India. Transformational change has been proved by you- from selling tea in your childhood to becoming PM of India.”
Talking about the heritage of the 426-year-old city hosting her, Ms Trump said, “In the city of treasure (Hyderabad), the greatest pearl is you. It is incredible to be in the ancient country brimming with technology.”
Concluding with a reference to her father and India-US ties, she said, “As President Trump said earlier, India has a true friend in the White House.”
After the inaugural of the GES, Prime Minister Modi hosted Ms Trump for dinner at the fabled heritage Falaknuma Palace Hotel, former residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad. Arriving at the Palace hotel in a horse-drawn golden carriage, Ms Trump was given a tour of the place before sitting for a feast fit for royalty at the world’s largest dining table, which seated 101 people.
She took time out of her hectic schedule for a date with the city’s heritage Golconda Fort, where she spent a couple of hours before leaving Hyderabad November 29, after a visit neither she nor the city are likely to forget in a hurry.