NEW DELHI: Whether or not 1,500 business-people from across the world attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit GES) 2017 that opened in Hyderabad today got a leg up, the governing dispensations in India and United
States, represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump’s daughter Ivanka respectively,
certainly linked arms and gave each other a political boost.
In an accomplished keynote address that had none of her father’s rambling digressions, Ivanka Trump was
effusive in her praise for Modi’s leadership, noting that “from your childhood selling tea to becoming
prime minister, you’ve proven that transformational change is possible.”
More acclaim for Modi followed, including approval for his “firm belief that the progress of humanity
is incomplete without the empowerment of women” and her expectation that the people of India “will
continue to grow under the leadership of Prime Minister.”
“India has a true friend in the White House,” the US President’s daughter, who is also his advisor,
said in what was clearly a bilateral political message at an international event the two countries are
Coming amid a fierce domestic political battle over the “chaiwala” nomenclature that his critics have
used as a taunt, the reference to the prime minister as a tea-seller delighted Modi acolytes. “Proud
moment for India. @IvankaTrump publicly acknowledges the transformative changes under PM @narendramodi.
Great to hear her appreciation for PM for his journey from a poor family to a popular world leader,”
tweeted Ravi Shankar Prasad.
On his part, Modi too talked up bilateral relations, saying the GES2017 event “not only connects the
Silicon Valley with Hyderabad but also showcases the close ties between the United States of America
Although Modi’s clarion call to young entrepreneurs — “Come make in India … for India and for the
world” – clashes with President Trump’s own Make America Great Again pitch, he has been assured by the
Trump administration that the sentiments are not contradictory and there is space for both countries to
grow. As entrepreneurs, both Trump father and daughter are familiar with the global supply chain, not
withstanding their MAGA push at home. In fact, they continue to court controversy at home because many
of their products are made abroad, including in China and India.
Ivanka’s appearance with Modi at the opening of the GES2017 was preceded by a bilateral meeting+ that
the Prime Minister described as “wonderful,” before they sauntered out to meet several entrepreneurs
who had rolled out their work for presentation.
Wearing a green and yellow printed knee-length silk dress, Ivanka was polished and poised for the two
hours she was before cameras and audience, showing no sign of jet lag as she sat through Modi’s speech
and then participating in an anodyne panel discussion moderated by former Cisco CEO John Chambers.
Strikingly for a summit whose theme is Women First, Prosperity For All, India rolled out its two most
consummate and capable female politicians, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defense minister
Nirmala Sitharaman before a US powerhouse who is herself expected to move on to higher office.
The scuttlebutt in Washington is that Ivanka could move to New York to take up Nikki Haley’s job as
ambassador to the UN if the latter replaces Rex Tillerson – who is said to be in the White House
doghouse – at the State Department.
But Trump left the domestic politics behind as she thanked the State Department – without mentioning
Tillerson – for co-hosting the GES2017.