President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner will be in India in November, with Ivanka leading a US delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) likely to take place in either Bangalore or Hyderabad.
“Thank you, Prime Minister Modi, for inviting me to lead the US delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India this fall,” tweeted @IvankaTrump.
“Delighted to have met you at the White House. Look forward to welcoming you in India for the summit later this year,” Modi tweeted back.
The Twitter back-and-forth hides an interesting story. The PM, it seems, was very keen to invite Ivanka Trump, who is widely seen as holding the key not only to father’s heart, but also to the US administration.
Although the GES summit was started by the former Barack Obama administration and Modi, after talks with Obama, had committed to hosting its eighth edition in India this year, the Trump administration is said to have decided to downplay the entire matter.
But government sources said Modi remained very keen to showcase India’s entrepreneurship in front of the best and brightest — last year’s version at Silicon Valley, which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attended, had participants such as Brian Chesky of Airbnb and Travis Kalanick of Uber, among 700 other business hotshots — and very much wanted Trump on board.
It was during this US visit that Trump agreed on both counts — that the summit should go ahead in India and that Ivanka Trump would lead the US delegation.
Certainly, the importance of being Ivanka Trump has not escaped anyone in Washington. When Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan visited the US in early April, Ivanka Trump and her husband sat next to them at the state dinner. At President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, all leaders watched affectionately as Ivanka’s children recited verses from the Three Character Classics, two Tang dynasty poems and sang a Chinese folk song, Jasmine.
As long ago as February, China’s state-run tabloid Global Times had pointed out that Ivanka was “the most influential first daughter” and that “her words and deeds are also believed to carry more weight.” On the same day as the Mar-a-Lago dinner, the Chinese government approved three trademarks for the Ivanka Trump Company for jewellery, spa services and bags.
Now, by getting President Trump’s daughter to agree to come to India, Modi may have pulled off a move that significantly weighs the balance. Modi’s team will certainly have read about the time when Ivanka Trump visited the Chinese embassy in Washington this February to celebrate the Year of the Rooster — this when the President simply forgot to send greetings on the Chinese lunar year.
Ivanka Trump, America’s elite believes, softens Trump’s rough edges. Soon after the time he was hauled over the coals for his comments about women during the presidential campaign, Ivanka Trump stated that her father was a feminist. And although she and Kushner have in previous years donated more than $40,000 to a Democratic politician, she is today firmly on her father’s side.
According to CNNMoney, China is a big market for the Ivanka Trump brand, which makes clothing and accessories as well as shoes — certainly, Modi will hope that the large Indian market can lure her. In March, Ivanka filed for 14 trademark applications, following up on 36 applications last year, ranging from tapestries to video game equipment to snacks and alcohol. Ivanka insists the trademark applications were only meant to stop other people from profiting in her name, CNNMoney added.
A mother of three, Ivanka is the daughter of Trump’s first wife. Speculation is rife that she plays the role of a quasi-First Lady, especially when Trump’s wife Melania stayed back in New York so she could keep her son in the same school. Ivanka Trump is also the author of two books, The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life (2009) and Women Who Work, which came out earlier this year.
Both books have been excoriated by reviewers. In the first, Ivanka Trump plays the poor-little-rich-girl, unable to set up a lemonade stand as a child in her privileged neighbourhood because nobody walked — everyone drove around in cars — so she had to sell the lemonade to her own household staff. In this book she also advises women to ignore the catcalls that men sometimes make to beautiful women — like the workers on her father’s construction sites did to her — while focusing on ending real sexual harassment.
The ostensible reason for Ivanka Trump heading the upcoming US delegation to India is her dedication to achieving women’s empowerment (always a key topic in the summit) as well as work-life balance while achieving self-actualisation — at any rate that’s the main point of her second book. According to a caustic review in The New York Times, Ivanka Trump classifies grocery shopping as something “neither urgent nor important” and talks about how she was so busy during her father’s presidential campaign that she couldn’t even get a massage.
Be that as it may, Ivanka Trump is sure to set Twitter as well as India’s glamour elite on fire when she visits in November. She may or may not be well-versed in the intricacies of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region or the importance of designating Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist, but she’s certainly no pushover. An economics graduate from Wharton Business School, Ivanka has ably leveraged her father’s brand to promote her own fashion business internationally.
With the PM pushing Ivanka to be her father’s goodwill ambassador to India, the bilateral relationship just got another big push.