"Her poverty and desperation are being glorified"
US presidential advisor Ivanka Trump came under fire after she praised Jyoti Kumari’s bicycle ride home hundreds of miles away.
Many people in India have criticised Ivanka for being insensitive to the plight of poor migrant workers struggling in the lockdown.
The story relates to 15-year-old Jyoti Kumari who cycled from Gurgaon, Haryana, to Darbhanga, Bihar, in just seven days. The journey measured 1,200 kilometres.
Not only that but she did it while her injured father sat at the back.
They were forced to return home after her father suffered an injury, leaving him jobless and with low supplies of food and money.
The story attracted a lot of attention, even impressing the Cycle Federation of India who invited her for a trial.
Ivanka tweeted about the story, saying:
“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!”
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!?? https://t.co/uOgXkHzBPz
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) May 22, 2020
The father and daughter were just two of the many jobless migrants leaving the big cities for their homes in other parts of India because the lockdown had drained their savings.
As a result, political figures and social media users said that Jyoti’s journey was not something to celebrate.
This led to Ivanka being criticised and being accused of glorifying poverty.
Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, responded to the message:
“Her poverty and desperation are being glorified as if Jyoti cycled 1,200km for the thrill of it.
“The government failed her, that’s hardly something to trumpet as an achievement.”
Others told her “not to glorify poverty” while others called the tweet “insensitive”.
One person wrote: “Are you seriously this clueless? This kid and her family had to go through this horrific experience because of India’s ill-conceived total lockdown which has resulted in a humanitarian disaster, not because she’s aspiring to be a professional cyclist.”
According to health experts, India’s nationwide lockdown has helped reduce the spread of Coronavirus but many have been pushed to the brink of poverty.
After weeks of criticism, the government is now running buses and trains to help migrants get home.
Kanti Chidambaram spoke of Jyoti’s hard journey home:
“This is not a feat of excellence. It’s a feat fuelled by desperation caused due to the callous attitude of the government.”
Jyoti refused to speak about Ivanka Trump’s controversial post, instead stating that she was happy to bring her father home.
She said: “I am very happy with the appreciation I am getting from all the corners.”