US State Senator, politician, lawyer and Vice-Presidential running mate Kamala Devi Harris has scripted history by being the first Indian-American or African-American woman to be appointed as the Vice-Presidential running mate.
It is a known fact that Kamala Harris has a huge support base in the Indian-American community. Indian-born Hollywood producer, philanthropist and serial entrepreneur Tel K Ganesan is excited at the power push for the senator as it “sends a message of hope to young girls of colour, and any immigrant, for that matter.”
Ganesan, who met Harris at Detroit, Michigan during her political run for the primary race of the Democratic presidential ticket, avers that Harris is “high energy, positive, upbeat and a bubbly person.” Ganesan had an instant connect with her. “We shared wonderful, happy moments. She is very friendly. It is much like talking to a friendly neighbour.” Both Ganesan and Harris’s mother Shyamala Gopalan hail from Chennai. “We very briefly spoke in Tamil – vanakkam and nandri. We did talk about sambar,” he grins.
Though Harris considers herself black, she has also spoken of her Indian roots. Harris has worked in international development around the world and return to live in villages throughout India in the mid-90s. Her matrilineal family of strong South Indian women has always been her inspiration. Her mother is a Tamilian from Chennai, and had moved to the US for higher studies. Her father is Donald Harris, of Jamaican descent. Ganesan is very proud of Harris’s achievement. “As an immigrant, it is a great inspiration. She already has a track record of breaking barriers. She started off as the first person of color in the office of the district attorney in San Francisco as a tough prosecutor and later as California Attorney General before winning the Senate seat four years ago. Harris is also the first person of Indian descent to ever get on the presidential ticket. Harris amassed more than $35 million over 11 months despite challenges that black women candidates face in raising money. If the Biden-Harris ticket wins, Harris will be the highest-ranking female US official in the country’s 244-year history. And it is not just that, Biden who would be 78 if he wins, might only serve a single four-year term, instantly making Harris a leading 2024 Democratic Presidential contender. She serves on several high-profile committees in the Senate including the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee.”
Ganesan believes that such a historic move is only possible in a country like the United States. “Hope fuels life and hope fuels opportunities. This will address the bottom-line issue of under-representation of women and minorities on US public company boards and will match the changing demographics we are experiencing in the country today.”
[ Senator Kamala Harris with US Presidential Candidate Joe Biden (above), and Serial Entrepreneur-Mentor- Hollywood Filmmaker Tel K. Ganesan (below) ]
Statistics reveal that 42% of women in the US have faced gender discrimination at work. Even in the military, women represent 16% of the enlisted forces and 19% of the office corps. “Kamala Harris’s rise opens up the dream of women and minorities sharing the same power, privileges, rights and opportunities as the privileged and is a giant stride for women in politics. India and Pakistan have had women in political power, but for the US, this is a first. A person born of immigrant parents running for the second highest position in the land, shows us the impossible is possible. It reinforces that the American Dream is still alive and well.”