NEW DELHI: Women in the village of Thulasendrapuram in South India have a special reason to rejoice and be ‘inspired’ this week: one of their own, Kamala Harris, is going to be the first woman, Black and Indian-American vice president of the United States.
The small village of dense rice paddies, more than 8,000 miles from the White House, is where Harris’s maternal grandfather was born more than a century ago. It’s residents have distributed sweets this week, decorated their homes with rangoli design, an ancient Indian floor-painting tradition, and flocked to temples with prayers for Harris.
Those who are the happiest are the village’s women.
“Kamala Harris belongs to this village … we feel inspired by her success,” Meethavi Gopalan, a teacher from Mannargudi town, nearly 10 km from Thulasendrapuram, told Arab News on Wednesday. “This is a great moment for us in the area and also as a woman.”
The vice president-elect was five years old when she last visited het ancestral village and talked about walking along Chennai’s beaches with her grandfather in her autobiography, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey”.
“We are very proud of her as she is the first woman vice president of the United States,” local councilor Arulamozli Sudhakar, 35, who has organized celebrations in honor of Harris’s win, told Arab News.
SudHajjar, a high-school dropout, said Harris had not only inspired her to pursue her studies once again but also to contest regional and national assembly elections.
“Harris has made us realize that nothing is impossible for girls or women,” Sudhakar said.
As a senator, Harris has also been a vocal advocate of women and minority rights and her election had led many activists in India to declare “a sense of relief.”
Both President-elect Joe Biden and Harris have been critical of the treatment meted out to the Muslim minority by India’s ruling Bhartiya Janata Party and the marginalization of the people of disputed Kashmir.
“I had been watching the US election very closely and with lots of hope this time,” Jameela Nishat, a women’s rights activist from the south Indian city of Hyderabad, told Arab News. “The moment I came to know that Harris’ party had won the verdict, I felt a great sense of relief and joy.”
“In Harris, we see hope,” Nishat added. “Someone who can listen to our voice.”