US presidential adviser Ivanka Trump’s praise of an Indian teenager’s bicycle ride home is drawing criticism in India for being insensitive to the plight of migrant workers struggling in a lockdown.
The girl carried her father on the back of her bicycle for about a week for 1,200 km, the two said on Saturday, one of the many out-of-work migrant families leaving big cities for their homes in other parts of India because the shutdown has sapped their savings.
“15-year-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!” Ivanka, daughter of President Donald Trump, tweeted Friday.
India’s cycling federation, impressed with her endurance, has invited her for trials and said it could groom her into a cyclist, local media reported.
But opposition leaders said Jyoti’s desperate journey home because of a crippling transport shutdown was hardly something to celebrate.
“Her poverty & desperation are being glorified as if Jyoti cycled 1,200 KM for the thrill of it. Government failed her, that’s hardly something to trumpet as an achievement,” Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, tweeted in response to Ivanka’s message.
According to relatives, Jyoti had to drop out of school due to financial crisis a few years ago.
Darbhanga programme officer Sanjay Kumar Deo Kanhaiya, in Bihar, said on Saturday that Jyoti has been granted admission in class 9 at the government school in Singhwara block.
The education department also gifted her a brand new cycle, along with a school dress, shoes, text books and stationary items on Saturday.