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Kamala Harris has often reflected on her proud Indian heritage (AFP)
Kamala Harris has often reflected on her proud Indian heritage (AFP)

Kamala Harris, the first Indian-origin, woman vice president of United States

  • Harris has been a rising star in Democratic politics for much of the last two decades
  • Born to Jamaican father and an Indian mother, Harris is a former attorney general of California

Kamala Harris has made history by becoming the first woman vice president of the United States. Harris will be the first Black woman and African American elected as the vice president. Born to Jamaican father and an Indian mother, Harris is a former attorney general of California. She also becomes the first person of Indian descent to hold the national office in the United States.

"This election is about so much more than @JoeBiden or me. It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started," the newly elected Vice President tweeted on Saturday. Democrat Joe Biden has defeated president Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States. He won Pennsylvania on Saturday to exceed the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

Harris has been a rising star in Democratic politics for much of the last two decades. After Harris ended her own 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, Joe Biden tapped her as his running mate. They will be sworn in as president and Vice President on 20 January.

"Over 100 million Americans voted before Election Day with a belief in our electoral process—trusting that their ballots would count. Now, Trump is trying to invalidate these ballots, and we need to fight back. Donate today to support the Biden Fight Fund," Harris tweeted after Trump alleged electoral fraud in the US election.

Harris’ mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was born in Chennai and moved to the United States to pursue a doctoral degree at University of California Berkeley. "When my mother Shyamala [Gopalan] stepped off a plane in California as a 19-year-old, she didn't have much in way of belongings but she carried with her lessons from home, including ones she'd learned from her parents," she said.

Kamala is Sanskrit for “lotus flower," and Harris gave nods to her Indian heritage throughout the campaign. Harris said that her mother would take her and sister Maya to India because she wanted her daughters to understand where she had come from. The 55-year-old Senator recently took a trip down memory lane, recalling her mother's attempts to "instil a love of good idli" in her and sister Maya.

"Growing up, my mother would take my sister Maya and me back to what was then called Madras because she wanted us to understand where she had come from and where we had ancestry. And, of course, she always wanted to instill in us, a love of good Idli," she said.

Harris' mother raised her daughters with the understanding the world would see them as Black women, Harris has said, and that is how she describes herself today. She attended Howard University, one of the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities, and pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation’s first sorority created by and for Black women. She campaigned regularly at HBCUs and tried to address the concerns of young Black men and women eager for strong efforts to dismantle systemic racism.

Her victory could usher more Black women and people of color into politics.

(With inputs from agencies)

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