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Senator Kamala Harris
Senator Kamala Harris

Biden's VP pick Kamala Harris has deep Indian roots

By Reena Bhardwaj | Updated: Aug 12, 2020 03:07 IST

Washington [US], August 12 (ANI): Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has chosen his running mate this Tuesday, after a months-long search that began with several dozen options and has ended at Senator Kamala Harris.

The California Democratic senator has been riding steady in the vice presidential race, with most observers - including those in Biden World - thinking she always remained the favourite.

Even though in recent days, she's been uncomfortable with the rash of headlines about the perceived tensions with Biden and his team, this nomination puts things into perspective.

This was where a young Kamala Harris spent time in the late 1960s, at a house in Lusaka, Zambia, that belonged to her maternal grandfather -- PV Gopalan, an Indian civil servant on assignment in an era of postcolonial ferment, LA Times reported.

The Indian government had sent Gopalan to help Zambia manage an influx of refugees from Rhodesia — the former name of Zimbabwe — which had just declared independence from Britain. It was the capstone of a four-decade career that began when Gopalan joined government service fresh out of college in the 1930s, in the final years of British rule in India.

"My grandfather was really one of my favourite people in my world,” Harris, California’s junior US senator, said in a recent interview.

Kamala has Indian heritage. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a Tamil Indian-American who became a leading cancer researcher and activist, passed away from colon cancer in 2009.

From Kamala's name (Shyamala gave her and her sisters Sanskrit names to connect their heritage with their identities) to Kamala's focus on immigration and equal rights, Shyamala has had a profound influence and lasting legacy on her high-flying daughter.

After graduation from the University of Delhi, Shyamala got a PhD in nutrition and endocrinology from UC Berkeley. She stayed there for her career as a breast cancer researcher, then later worked at the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin—even eventually being a part of the Special Commission on Breast Cancer.

In addition to inspiring Kamala through service, she was also a civil rights activist. She passed this activism on to her daughter. (ANI)