CHANDIGARH: A small village at the border district of Tarantarn in Punjab is thrilled that Nikki Haley, the South Carolina governor has been named by US President-elect Donald Trump as the ambassador to the United Nations.
Nikki Haley may have been born in the United States as her father Ajit Singh Randhawa moved to the US in the late 1960’s, but for her extended family back in Pandori Ram Singh village in Tarantaran district of Punjab, she is still Nimrata Randhawa whom they fondly call `Nikki’.
The village has now a population of 1,500 villagers and it still has small houses of five Marla scattered around the village. “I still remember by uncle (Nikki’s father) studied in Panjab Agriculture University as he did his MSc in Agriculture and then he started teaching there at the time it was still a college and not a university. Then in 1963-64, he along with his wife Raj Kaur Randhawa and elder son Harmeet Singh moved to Canada to pursue doctoral studies on a scholarship from the University of British Columbia,’’ said Kanwaljit Singh Randhawa a retired lecturer and the first cousin of Nikki Haley, who lives in Verka a small town near Amritsar.
After finishing his Phd, Singh moved to South Carolina in USA in 1969 and accepted an offer from Voorhees College as a professor. “Nikki was born in the small city of Bamberg and her sister Simran and younger brother Charanajit Singh were also born is US. She did her accounting degree from Clemson University,’’ said Singh.
Haley’ elder brother Harmeet Singh who had served in Operation Desert Storm retired from the US Army Chemical Corp and her younger brother Charanajit Singh is a web designer while her sister Simran is working for a radio station.
“In 1986, her father, mother and her younger brother Charanajit Singh came back and stayed with us for two months and again in 1991 and 1999 they visited us but after that they did not come. Nikki came to Amritsar in 2014 and paid obeisance at the Golden Temple and wanted to come home but due to security reasons she could not come, so we visited her at the five star hotel in Amritsar where she was staying,’’ said Singh.
“Now we will be visiting them in the US next year in April. I speak to my uncle Ajit Singh Randhawa on a regular basis as my father is no more and he (Ajit) is the eldest member of the family now. I have spoken to Nikki and congratulated her but then again there is a little difficulty in understanding the accent, so some words we miss out.’
“ She has made us all proud as she had got this position due to her hard work and intelligence,’’ he added.