rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » Mitra, the robot, steals the show from NaMo, Ivanka

Mitra, the robot, steals the show from NaMo, Ivanka

November 29, 2017 10:07 IST

Ivanka spoke for a good 15 minutes, gracefully, looking straight at her audience, her face wreathed often in winning smiles.
She is an articulate, striking, woman who charmed her audience.
Vaihayasi Pande Daniel reports from the Global Enterpreneurs Summmit in Hyderabad.

Mitra with Prime Minister Narendra D Modi with Ivanka Trump, head of the US delegation, at the Global Entrepreneur Summit 2017 in Hyderabad, November 28. Photograph: Press Information Bureau of India

IMAGE: Mitra, the robot, with Prime Minister Narendra D Modi with Ivanka Trump, head of the US delegation, at the Global Entrepreneur Summit 2017 in Hyderabad, November 28. Photograph: Press Information Bureau of India

Hyderabad has likely not seen a human spectacle like this before -- a juggernaut of international high flyers.

Or so many shades of the world's humanity, as it did on Tuesday, November 28.

 

Liquid accents and tongues warring with each other: Polish. Montenegrin. Japanese. Spanish. Macedonian. Telugu. Azeri. American. Scottish. Swedish. Afrikaans. Kannada.

Skin tones ranged from rich chocolate to translucent white.

Hair colour varied from blue and red to white blond.

Styles ran the gamut: Tight frizzy spiky braids, even on men, to sober bobs and plaits.

Nationalities?

A good 150 of them under one patch of its bright blue sky at Cyberabad, about 16 km from the city centre, as the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017 kicked off post noon Tuesday, bringing together educators, government officials, businessmen, actors, sportsmen and politicians.

The American delegation of 350 entrepreneurs was led by US President Donald J Trump's elder daughter Ivanka Trump, and she played up this year's theme: Women First, Prosperity for All.

In a room full of 1,500 registered global entrepreneurs, having 53 percent of them refreshingly women is considerably more exciting.

Entrepreneurs, with their inventive, adventurous flare are already a unique tribe. Folks with a certain dash and panache to them.

Daring modern-day explorers.

Women entrepreneurs go one step further. They have, like their male counterparts, whatever it takes to become that swashbuckling entrepreneur.

Add to that: Oodles of chic and oomph, that made the landscape at the swish Hi-Tech City, where the summit was being hosted, most intriguing.

In addition to the commonplace shirt-suit-tie garb, evident were: Kimonos. Frocks. Cheongsams. Kebayas. Lehengas. Ghagras. Short skirts. Sarongs. Saris. Abayas. Flared bottoms. M'boubous. Tunics. Kurtis. Palazzos.

Stilettos. Platforms. Boots. Head scarves. Literally clothing and accessories in every cut and hue under the rainbow.

Delegates pose for a photo at the venue of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017 in Hyderabad. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

IMAGE: Delegates pose for a photo at the venue of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017 in Hyderabad. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

Women entrepreneurs stepped out in style, turning the Accor Hotels-managed glossy Hyderabad International Convention Centre, that was built in 2005 and has the capacity to seat 6,000 people, into an international runaway of sorts.

Equally interesting were the snatches of conversation one picked up on the Novotel lawns where the pre-event high tea -- chicken sandwiches, chicken pakoda, spring rolls, mini samosas, pound cake, kala jamuns -- was served:

Proudly, cutely: "We Indians invent everything, except copyright."

Two women whispering to each other: "We are the oldest entrepreneur pair here."

Cocky young tycoon: "I sell funny ties for funny people. Now I have a health start up."

"My mom's half Indian and half Japanese. My father's from Scotland."

A haughty local: Excuse me is ko saaf kar deejiye (clean this)", imperiously summoning a taken aback hotel staffer. And then ordering over a summit organiser to check the time of lunch, just as the tea drew to a close.

A rundown of America's few festivals by an American to an Indian: "Thanksgiving was for the British pilgrims... And we have Valentine's Day that is mainly celebrated by kids and college students."

A conversation about luggage misplaced at the city's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport that finally got delivered to the hotel.

One entrepreneur to the other: "Rs 45 crores... No, I heard it cost Rs 100 crores. A lot of money. It is nice, but not that nice. That's a billion dollars. Like the Olympics!"

Prime Minister Narendra D Modi with to his right Telangana Governor E S L Narasimhan and Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao at the inauguration of the Hyderabad Metro, November 28. Photograph: PIB_India/Twitter

IMAGE: Modi with to his right Telangana Governor E S L Narasimhan and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao at the inauguration of the Hyderabad Metro, November 28. Photograph: PIB_India/Twitter

Whatever the price tag of this 8th edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, that was jointly hosted by India and the US, Hyderabad rolled out a fantastic show.

The city was in tip-top shape. The Metro was just up and running, its shiny cars chugging along tracks that connected central Begumpet with 24 other stations.

Its roads were newly paved in many segments. The white or yellow paint had barely dried on streets, curbs and sidewalks approaching Hi-Tech City. Flowers, hedges, grass were freshly planted.

From umpteen giant billboards, all across the city, for miles, the faces of Narendra D Modi, Ivanka and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao beamed out at the public.

Like a Christmas carnival, the bushes, trees and shrubbery on the approach road to Hi-Tech City were lit up with multicoloured lights.

Giant sculpted tribal heads, made by Kriya Art House, dotted the path, and delighted the locals, who were taking selfies with each of them.

Signs, with jaunty slogans, also dotted the place like: The emerging emerge here.

There was a half an hour delay before Modi and Ivanka took the stage at the convention centre a little after 4 pm on Tuesday.

During the wait time specially curated videos for the GES, Make in India and Incredible India played on a loop, showing breathtaking images of India's best landscapes, temples, monuments (nothing, it seemed, of the Taj Mahal incidentally) architecture with the voice over reminding the audience, "As Mark Twain said, India is one country of 100 nationalities"...

Ivanka Trump and Prime Minister Narendra D Modi at GES 2017. Photograph: @MEAPhotogallery/Flickr

IMAGE: Ivanka and Modi at GES 2017. Photograph: @MEAPhotogallery/Flickr

So enormously large was the venue that when the statuesque Ivanka and Modi, who looked rather avuncular, entered, they were just small specks on the horizon.

Modi's arrival was greeted with whoops of joy as the crowd of entrepreneurs got to their feet to welcome him with runaway enthusiasm.

Ivanka did the other fashionably dressed women in the room proud, turning out in a swirling elegant floral dress with an interesting neckline, that looked, fittingly, like a Rajasthani angarkha from afar.

NITI Aayog, who had a huge hand in organising events at the venue, kicked off the evening with a series of audiovisuals and dance performances that had the audience's jaws dropping.

Glitter, colour, complex dance steps, pirouettes, acrobatics, twirls, ghoomar moves, the pageant put up was reminiscent of the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Commentary, in a booming, plummy British accent, punctuated the performances.

Ivanka and Modi came onto the stage to declare the summit open by pressing the America and India Button on a robot named Mitra created by Bengaluru entrepreneurs Balaji Vishwanathan, Mahalakshmi Radhakrushnan, Bharath Kumar of Invento Robotics.

The robot acknowledged Modi in a staccato tone that amused the gathering no end.

Chief Minister KCR offered a brief, appropriate, preface to the event in his opening remarks.

In her keynote address, Ivanka said fuelling the growth of women-led businesses isn't good only for society, but also for the economy. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

IMAGE: In her keynote address, Ivanka said fuelling the growth of women-led businesses isn't good only for society, but also for the economy. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

Ivanka spoke for a good 15 minutes, gracefully, looking straight at her audience, her face wreathed often in winning smiles. She is an articulate, striking, woman who charmed her audience.

She referred many times to the achievements of her father's government and thanked the US state department for its efforts in organising the "incredible gathering" at the summit (the media has been alive with stories about the state department's reluctance to participate).

Noteworthy excerpts from her speech: "Thank you, Prime Minister Modi, for joining us here today --- and for all that you are doing to build India as a thriving economy --- a beacon of democracy --- and a symbol of hope to the world."

"What you are achieving is truly extraordinary. From your childhood selling tea to your election as India's prime minister, you've proven that transformational change is possible."

"Through your own enterprise, entrepreneurship, and hard work, the people of India have lifted more than 130 million citizens out of poverty. All of you are helping India's middle class reach its goal of nearly 500 million people by 2030. The people of India inspire us all."

The highpoint of her speech: "It's wonderful to be in this ancient city brimming with transformative technology -- now, your tech centers may, may, may even outshine your world-famous biryani.

"CEOs like Microsoft's Satya Nadella went to school right here in Hyderabad. Just a few kilometres away, T-hub's brand new facility is set to open next year -- and will become the largest incubator in Asia."

"In this City of Pearls the greatest treasure is YOU -- the dreamers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders who never give up - never abandon your aspirations -- and always strive for a better tomorrow."

Key message from Ivanka on women entrepreneurs, that gives credence to the fact that women entrepreneurs are even sturdier and more motivating than men entrepreneurs: "I have seen firsthand that all too often, women must do more than their male counterparts to prove themselves at work, while also disproportionately caring for their families at home."

Ivanka then, by example, recognised just three women entrepreneurs in the room, one was Reyhan Camalova, a 15-year-old girl from Azerbaijan, who started a company that harvests energy from rainwater.

Ivanka Trump with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad. She showered generous praises on the Prime Minister in her keynote address. She termed Modi's achievement as 'truly extraordinary'. Photograph: @MEAPhotogallery/Flickr

IMAGE: In her speech, Ivanka termed Modi's achievement as 'truly extraordinary'. Photograph: @MEAPhotogallery/Flickr

By contrast, Modi's address was one of his usual rousing, feel-good, perpetually-in-election-mode speeches, that talked of his government's endless achievements and patted himself and India on the back over and over again and often harked back to India's ancient achievements.

These speeches evidently work magic because the crowd stamped their feet in approval. Without doubt the prime minister was the hero of the room, even if the snowman-looking Mitra came a close second.

Excerpts: "The theme Women First, Prosperity for All makes this edition of GES stand out. In Indian mythology, woman is an incarnation of Shakti, the goddess of power. We believe women empowerment is vital to our development."

"Three out of four oldest high courts in India are now headed by women judges. Our sportswomen have done the country proud. This very city of Hyderabad is home to Saina Nehwal, P V Sindhu and Sania Mirza who have brought laurels to India."

"The number of smartphone users in India is projected to grow to over 500 million by 2018. This offers immense potential for the growth of any venture, in terms of outreach and job creation."

"Our Start-Up India programme is a comprehensive action plan to foster entrepreneurship and promote innovation. It aims to minimise the regulatory burden and provide support to startups. Over 1,200 redundant laws have been scrapped, 87 rules for FDI have been eased in 21 sectors, and several government processes have been taken online."

NDRF personnel stand guard at the venue of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

IMAGE: National Disaster Rescue Force personnel at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

After Modi left, the crowd adrenaline dropped many notches.

Ivanka came back on stage and was part of the first discussion on women entrepreneurship moderated by Cisco Chairman emeritus with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Marcus Wallenberg, chairman of the Scandinavian bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken and Sibongile Sambo, managing director, SRS Aviation & SRS Petroleum.

The five participants were in total contrast to each other. Glitzy Ivanka seated next to a sedate Sitharaman. South African Sambo, one of the first women to run an airline in the world, provided the exotic.

Chambers and Wallenberg, in their suits, anchored it to the more conventional world of business. Not surprisingly, their views totally converged.

Madurai-born, JNU-educated Sitharaman was the surprise package, speaking, with vision and eloquence, about what India needs to do for its women achievers.

India, she said, has a plan under Modi, to have its banks give a start-up loan to one woman in every one of its 707 districts (at last count in 2016) across the country.

"Indian women always had that natural instinct to excel and succeed," India's first full-time woman defence minister declared.

The discussion broadly centered on Ivanka's remarks of just half an hour before: That despite the soaring rate of female entrepreneurs, they face steep obstacles while trying to start and grow their businesses.

Crucially women entrepreneurs need access to capital, access to networks and mentors and access to equitable laws.

Said Ivanka, "Entrepreneurs have to just do it. If you have an idea or solution, if you are passionate about it and think can change and better world, just do it! No time like the present."

Sambo spoke about how she was unable to raise capital for her airline because of the risks involved and those risks were considered unacceptable for a woman to be allowed to take in business.

But she patched together a series of loans from a network of friends and family to start her airline that is successful today earning several million dollars annually as per her statement to Forbes a few years ago.

The takeaway message to the all entrepreneurs in the room was: Each successful entrepreneur should reach out and mentor one more.

The cultural programme at the Falaknuma Palace.  'Thank you Prime Minister @NarendraModi for hosting such a spectacular dinner reception at the magnificent Taj Falaknuma Palace. Amazing display of Indian culture. Special evening with the Prime Minister and @IvankaTrump. #GES2017 is off to a great start!' US Ambassador to India Ken Juster tweeted. Photograph: Kind courtesy @@USAmbIndia/Twitter

IMAGE: The cultural programme at the Falaknuma Palace. 'Thank you Prime Minister @NarendraModi for hosting such a spectacular dinner reception at the magnificent Taj Falaknuma Palace. Amazing display of Indian culture. Special evening with the Prime Minister and @IvankaTrump. #GES2017 is off to a great start!' US Ambassador to India Ken Juster tweeted. Photograph: Kind courtesy @@USAmbIndia/Twitter

The evening wound up with Ivanka departing with Modi for a special dinner being hosted at the dreamy 60-room-22-hall Falaknuma Palace, once the nizam of Hyderabad's home, that was built in 1893, near the Charminar for the American president's daughter and only 100 chosen delegates.

Nearly 40 buses, emblazoned with Uber and Telangana Tourism, lined up outside the convention centre to take delegates either to the dinner or back to their hotels.

Traffic in and out of Hi-Tech City was at a patient standstill while the police bandobast awaited the exit of Modi, Ivanka, KCR, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other high-level dignitaries.

Crowds lined the roads outside the perimeter of Hi-Tech City, hoping to catch a glimpse of Modi and the "American Ma'am."

When Modi whizzed by, in a shiny black SUV, its interior lights on, illuminating him like a modern god, crowds applauded and children shouted with glee.

Vaihayasi Pande Daniel / Rediff.com in Hyderabad