Ivanka is Visiting. Time for Hyderabad to Clean House.

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Nov 25, 2017

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The eighth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) will be held in Hyderabad later this month. The theme this year is “Women First, Prosperity for All,” and the event will focus on supporting women entrepreneurs and fostering economic growth, globally. Which is why Ivanka ‘Advisor to the President’ Trump is headlining the United States’ delegation. ‘Coz her advice has worked so well till now. Yeah.

The city of Hyderabad is understandably excited. Business has been in a slump, and everyone’s hoping that with more than 1,500 entrepreneurs, investors and whatnot from across the world, everyone can finally look forward to #acchedin, instead of “What do you mean my money’s illegal?” and “What do you mean 18% extra tax?”

But how can you call rich relatives home without cleaning house first? Without first turning everything into a beige, uniform, sanitized landscape reminiscent of a certain in-law’s Instagram account? You can’t. Turns out the government of Hyderabad is just another desperate housewife, hiding the clutter in the closet along with the unruly kids.

Hyderabad police have rounded up more than 6,000 beggars and homeless people and shoved them into rehabilitation facilities. (For now? For two days? Till Ivanka has left the building? We don’t know!) Begging has been banned, because it causes “annoyance and awkwardness.” But it always did (probably mostly for the beggars), and we did nothing about it till now. Potholes are being repaired, manholes are being covered, roads are being re-tarred, just in time for the GES, because regular family members don’t deserve nice things or a bump-less ride to work. Only the foreign-returned ones do.

An almost-finished open-air mall is being rushed, as Ivanka will shop there – leading many Hyderabad residents to look at the barometer and scratch their heads in confusion.

And last (and worst?): stray dogs have been poisoned so as to get them off the streets. Yes. Innocent, voiceless animals have lost their lives because a bunch of white people with money are coming to visit.

Just like people who pretend like their house is always spic and span, even when you can see the closet door jammed in, the Telangana government says these are permanent drives and regular policies. Which all just conveniently happened to start this week?

But why do anything at all? We are like this only, right? We throw garbage on the street. We have beggars. We have stray dogs. These are real issues, as much as homelessness is in the US, and everywhere else in the world.  If we want their money, surely we should take them to the dirtiest parts of the city saying, “Look! We REALLY need your money!”

Ivanka is getting most of the coverage, and blame, in the news. But for once, we can’t really blame her. India’s apathy to the poor and the voiceless is well-known, documented and visible every day, and the news of Hyderabad’s house cleaning doesn’t seem to have caused much of a furor in India itself. Ivanka might be the queen of complicity in the US, standing by and smiling while a despot tramples human rights, but her visit begs the question: Aren’t we complicit here?

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Written By Akhila Vijaykumar

Akhila Vijaykumar is a writer with experience across advertising and journalism. Occasionally, the crossover does make her demand truth from soap and try to cajole quotes into starbursts, but no harm no foul. She loves books by Terry Pratchett, dogs and pizza, often at the same time.

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