CHENNAI: Indian-origin Senator Kamala Harris, who has been named by Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden as the vice-presidential candidate, has close links with Chennai, the city where her mother Shyamala Gopalan, 'the greatest hero of her life', was born.
The role of Shyamala Gopalan, daughter of PV Gopalan and Rajam, in shaping Kamla Harris was highlighted by her sister Maya Harris who tweeted "You can't know who @ KamalaHarris is without knowing who our mother was".
While Kamala's maternal relatives, including her maternal aunt Sarala Gopalan, are happy and thrilled about the turn of events, their wish to avoid publicity is so strong that they have cut off their telephone, which has been ringing ever since the news of her becoming the vice-presidential candidate broke.
Sarala had earlier said that the entire family was so thrilled and happy after they heard the news.
It is learnt that when Kamala was a child, she used to travel to Chennai once every two to three years to visit her mother's family.
"My earliest memories are of walking along the beach with my grandfather and his friends - retired public servants who had spent their careers trying to make India a better place," she had said in an interview.
Her grandfather PV Gopalan, a former bureaucrat who then worked as Joint Secretary to Government of India in the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Rehabilitation, would take them for a walk on Elliot's Beach in Besant Nagar.
"My grandfather would talk to me about the importance of applying an unflinching ethical lens to every single problem you face," she had stated in the interview when she became the first female District Attorney in San Francisco.
Shyamala graduated with an undergraduate degree from the Lady Irwin College of University of Delhi at the age of 19. She earned a doctor of philosophy in nutrition and endocrinology from the University of California, Berkeley at the age of 25 and went on to marry Jamaican Donald Harris, a professor of economics at Stanford.
The couple later separated and Shyamala brought her daughters back to India often, usually to Chennai.
Meanwhile, deputy chief minister O Paneerselvam said the nomination of Kamala Harris as the vice-presidential running mate for the American Presidential elections 2020 is a moment of pride for Indians and Tamil Nadu.
"It is a moment of pride for Indians and Tamil Nadu especially, as Kamala Harris, the first Indian senator, whose mother hails from Tamil Nadu has been nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate by the US Democratic party. My hearty wishes to her," he said in a tweet.