Among 2020 U.S. Presidential Hopefuls, Here Are Two Democratic Women Candidates with Strong Indians LinksApril 08, 2019 12:46
Less than two years left for the 2020 United States presidential elections and the campaigning is strengthening. 17 Democratic candidates have already lined up for the party nomination. Among them are two women with Indian connections: Senator Kamala Harris from California and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii.
Born in Oakland, California, to a Tamil Indian mother and a Jamaican father, the 54-year-old Kamala Harris, the Senator from California is seen as one of the frontrunners to clinch the Democratic nomination.
Harris was District Attorney of San Francisco from 2004-11, after which she went on to became the Attorney-General of California. She has been criticized for playing a role in the era of mass incarceration in the United States, which disproportionately targeted minorities.
In 2017, Harris became the first person of Indian origin to be elected to the United States Senate. In her political avatar, the Senator has pursued a progressive stance on gender and racial equality and has strongly endorsed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme in the face of an anti-immigrant position taken by the Trump administration. She has also advocated tax cuts for the middle class and the poor.
Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, immigrated to the United States from Chennai (then Madras) in 1960. She was a breast cancer scientist. Her father, Donald Harris, is a Stanford University economics professor who emigrated from Jamaica in 1961 for pursuing graduation in economics at University of California, Berkeley.
The 37-year-old Gabbard is not of Indian origin and was born in a family of American Samoan ancestry, which is native to Hawaii. Her father was a Catholic and her mother a convert to Hinduism. Gabbard herself became a Hindu when she was a teenager.
Gabbard’s father has been a member of the Hawaii legislature from the Democratic Party, and Gabbard herself became its youngest elected member in 2002. In 2012, Gabbard was elected to the United States House of Representatives, becoming the first Hindu member in its history. It was only after this victory that Gabbard visited India for the first time.
In the U.S. Congress, Gabbard has lashed out at interventionist American foreign policy, especially in Yemen. She has also put her weight behind Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, and was criticized for meeting him in 2017 even after it was reported that the dictator had used chemical weapons against civilians.
Gabbard, also a military veteran, has attended events organized by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s overseas arm. She openly displays her Hindu identity and took her oath to the office on a copy of the Bhagwat Gita. Gabbard with great power defended her proximity to Hindu groups.
Gabbard is co-chair of the influential Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans.
By Sowmya Sangam