Could She Become The World's Most Powerful Indian Woman?

  • 13 Aug 2020

As the US heads to the polls this November, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has picked senator Kamala Devi Harris, who is half-Indian, as the vice presidential candidate. 

In making the announcement on Wednesay, Biden said Harris was an inspiring woman who would help him "rebuild the country" which has been messed up by president Donald Trump and his vice president Mike Pence, especially in the handling of the coronavirus crisis. 

Here are some facts that you ought to know about 55-year-old Californian senator. 

  • She was born in Oakland, California, to Donald J Harris, a Jamaican emeritus professor of economics, who emigrated to the US in 1961, and  Shyamala Gopalan, a breast-cancer scientist who had emigrated from Tamil Nadu, India in 1960 to pursue a doctorate in endocrinology at UC Berkeley.
  • Her growing up days were filled with activism, as their parents used to attend civil rights rallies, with Harris and her sister Maya, on tow. 
  • Both Harris and Maya grew up going to both a black Baptist Curch and a Hindu temple. They also visited their mother's family in Chennai (then Madras), on occassions, and as a result, Kamala understands a bit of Tamil. They were raised by their mother after their parents divorced when Kamala was just seven.
  • Harris' grandfather (on her mother's side), P.V. Gopalan, an high-ranking Indian civil servant who was assigned to Zambia, played a big role in shaping her interest in public service.
  • Harris has many firsts under her belt, namely the first African-America, first woman and first Asian-American to become attorney-general of California. She is also the first Indian-American and second African-American woman to serve as a senator. 
  • The law graduate had served stints as the district attorney of San Francisco, and later as the attorney-general of California.
  • Harris is reportedly driven by a quote her mother used to tell her:"You may be the first to do many things but make sure you're not the last."
  • In January 2019, Harris announced running for president but withdrew from the race in December, citing a shortage of funds. In March 2020, she endorsed Biden for president. 
She is married to Doug Emhoff, a corporate lawyer in Los Angeles.

It is impressive that Harris has come this far in the US presidential race. Whether or not she ends up winning the vice presidency, she has certainly made Indians around the world proud. 

With her achievement, she has joined the likes of Bobby Jindal (55th Louisiana governor), Nikki Haley (former US ambassador to the United Nations), and business leaders like Sundar Pichai (Google CEO), Indar Nooyi (former Pepsi CEO), and Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO), as Indians who have shattered the glass ceiling in various fields. 

Photo source: Los Angeles Times

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