Hyderabad: It’s midnight in Hyderabad, India, just hours before the US first daughter Ivanka Trump is due to appear to speak at the eighth Global Entrepreneurship Summit – the first time the event has been hosted in South Asia.
In preparation for Trump’s visit, the city of Hyderabad, India’s fast-growing technology hub with a population approaching 9 million, is still being transformed.
The Telangana government has made elaborate arrangements for the big event. Security has been boosted. New roads have been built. And on this late night workers are still busy placing the finishing touches, painting bridges across paths that Trump and some of the 1500 summit delegates from 150 countries around the world will take to historic venues across the city.
All around, rainbow coloured lights have been installed and murals with positive messages about India’s transformation from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been erected.
This is a sanitised version of India. There are no beggars to be seen.
The official line is that the city has banned begging in public areas and moved hundreds of beggars to “rehabilitation centres” where they are offered clean clothes, a shower and food. Others suggest they have ended up in local jails.
There are glimpses of street dogs, but sightings are rare, possibly because other media reports suggest alleged poisoning of dogs to sanitise the city for Trump’s visit – a claim that authorities deny.
Prime Minister Modi – who invited Ivanka to support this year’ summit when he visited the White House in June – is scheduled to have a meeting with her before the inauguration of the GES.
The pair is opening the summit on Tuesday. Then they will head to Taj Falaknuma – said to be world’s largest dining hall, where Indian culture will be showcased during dinner.
The summit is highlighting the two countries’ “growing economic and security partnership”.
Under the theme of “Women First and Prosperity for All,” the spotlight will be on women’s equality and economic empowerment.
But it comes at a time when the US has been wracked with almost endless reports of sexual abuse and assault in the workplace.
Trump has been criticised by much of her country’s media as an imperfect choice to speak on women’s issues. While she has called for more support for working women around the world, The Washington Post has previously raised questions about work conditions for labourers, in India and other Asian countries, who make clothing for her fashion lines – an issue on which she’s remained silent.
The US media also highlight her silence around her father’s moves that many see as taking aim at women’s rights, such as withdrawing US support for birth control initiatives abroad.
But for all the event’s washing over and imperfections, at least a conversation about women is happening.
More than 10 countries will be represented by an all-female delegation, including Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.
The audience will also hear from other prominent speakers including former UK first lady Cherie Blair, founder of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.
The event was a personal initiative of former US president Barack Obama.
Trump will be joined by US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, as well as US Treasurer Jovita Carranza.
The writer travelled to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, as a guest of the US State Department.