Ivanka Trump slammed in India for ‘glorifying poverty’ after she praised girl, 15


U.S. presidential adviser Ivanka Trump’s praise of an Indian teenager’s bicycle ride home hundreds of miles away is drawing criticism in India for being insensitive to the plight of impoverished migrant workers struggling in a lockdown.

Jyoti Kumari, 15, carried her father Mohan Paswan on the back of her bicycle for about a week for 750 miles (1,200 km), from Gurugram near New Delhi in the north of India to their home in the Darbhanga district, Bihar state, east India.

They pair are just some of the many out-of-work migrants leaving the big cities for their homes in other parts of India because the shutdown has sapped their savings.

Ivanka, daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, tweeted on Friday night: ’15 yr old Jyoti Kumari, carried her wounded father to their home village on the back of her bicycle covering +1,200 km over 7 days.

‘This beautiful feat of endurance & love has captured the imagination of the Indian people and the cycling federation!’

India’s cycling federation, impressed with her endurance, has invited her for trials and said it could groom her into a cyclist.

But opposition political figures, as well as some commentators, in the country of 1.3 billion said Miss Kumari’s desperate journey home because of a crippling transport shutdown was hardly something to celebrate.

Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, tweeted on Saturday in response to Ivanka’s message: ‘Her poverty & desperation are being glorified as if Jyoti cycled 1,200km for the thrill of it. Government failed her, that’s hardly something to trumpet as an achievement,’

Health experts say India’s vast lockdown has helped limit the spread of COVID-19, but it has pushed millions who live on daily wages to the brink of poverty.

After weeks of mounting criticism and tales of hardship, the government is now running trains and buses to help the migrants get home.

Speaking of the teenager’s hard journey home Kanti Chidambaram, an opposition member of parliament, said: ‘This is not a feat of excellence. It’s a feat fuelled by desperation caused due to the callous attitude of the government,’

Miss Kumari’s father, a rickshaw driver in north India, said he could not cycle because of an accident he had suffered months ago, he was forced to return the auto-rickshaw to its owner. With food and cash running out, his daughter decided she would ride him to their village in the eastern state of Bihar.

Her father Mr Paswan said: ‘Initially I had doubts because she is just 15, but I was wrong. She asked me to sit on the bicycle and not pay heed to what people would say.’

They survived on biscuits and food that people gave them during the stops in the blistering Indian summer. Miss Kumari said she was happy she had brought her father home safely.

She declined to be drawn into controversy about Ivanka’s post, saying, ‘I am very happy with the appreciation I am getting from all the corners.’


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