It is a day of firsts for Kamala Harris. With Joe Biden crossing the requisite halfway mark and securing a projected 290 electoral votes, the Democrats are poised to take over the administration in 2021. In the few hours since the US media outlets and poll watchers called the election in Biden's favour, congratulations have been pouring in.
But while it is a significant moment for many across the globe, Kamala is also making history as the first woman to hold the Vice Presidential office. Not only that, she's also the first woman of colour, the first Indian American and the first Asian American to hold such a post. But she sees this as a moment of hope. "While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last—because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities," she told people in her first official remarks since the win.
"Heartiest congratulations Kamala Harris! Your success is pathbreaking, and a matter of immense pride not just for your chittis, but also for all Indian-Americans," Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted following their win. And far away from the US, a village in Tamil Nadu, from where Harris' family hails, is creating rangolis to congratulate the VP-elect.
Harris' Indian roots run deep. Her grandfather P. V. Gopalan was an Indian career civil servant who held many significant posts. He had been born in Tamil Nadu's Thulasenthirapuram. Her mother Shyamala Gopalan was a biomedical scientist whose work in isolating and characterizing the progesterone receptor gene is notable. At the age of 19, she had applied and was accepted to a masters program at the University of California, Berkeley. Thus came the transition from India to the US.
"When she came here from India at the age of 19. She may not have quite imagined this moment. But she believed so deeply in America, where a moment like this is possible. And so I'm thinking about her," said Harris on Sunday during her victory speech.
Over the years, Harris has frequently mentioned her mother and the influence Shyamala Gopalan Harris had had on her children. "My mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, was the greatest source of inspiration in my life. She taught my sister Maya and me the importance of hard work and to believe in our power to right what is wrong. There’s no one I’d rather honor this first day of Womens History Month," Kamala had tweeted at the beginning of March this year.