Ahead of Ivanka Trump’s arrival in Hyderabad to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the local administration has launched a campaign to make the city streets beggar-free. With hundreds of foreign delegates coming to Hyderabad for the summit, the Telangana Government wants to create a world-class impression of the town. However, this order would remain in force for two months.
While many have welcomed the move, the question is why does the authority wake up only ahead of an important international event? “We are still living in an age of colonialism and white supremacy. I don’t think they would have done it if it an African minister were visiting the city,” says producer-director Elahe Hiptoola.
She adds, “For us, it is far more important to impress the other person that what the citizens of this country go through. I feel that the government should initiate programmes to rehabilitate the beggars and provide them some kind of training which would help them live better lives. But it makes no sense taking the beggars off the streets for two months just to impress a foreigner.” In fact, the authorities have been busy mending the roads and beautifying the areas Ivanka might cross. “I think these initiatives should be taken up every time there is a need to repair the roads or a pavement — after all the citizens do pay for these basic amenities,” comments Elahe. Co-convener of INTACH’s Hyderabad chapter, Anuradha Reddy feels that the issue of beggars is way deeper that what meets the eye. “One has to look at the larger picture of why we have so many beggars on the streets before simply pushing them aside for a specific period of time to beautify the city.
It is the socio-economic situation of these people that lead them to live such lives. Putting on some lipstick and make-up will help hide the wrinkles of our faces from the world for some time; however, that certainly cannot be a long-term solution.” Among those who feel that the order is extremely cruel, is activist Anju Khemani. “I don’t think such steps should be taken at all, whether or not a celebrity is coming to the city. We are talking about living things; we can’t sweep them off like this! I don’t say that there should be rehabilitation programmes, but to hide them like this is so inhumane,” she opines.