Who is Kamala Harris? Netizens Respond to the Indian-origin US Vice President Nominee

Athira Nair
·5-min read

When US Democratic party’s Presidential candidate Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his Vice President nominee on Wednesday, social media in India also erupted with positive and negative responses to the same. Kamala Harris is partly of Indian origin – her mother, Shyamala Gopalan from Tamil Nadu, had migrated to the US in 1960 for Cancer research. She met Donald Harris, a Stanford University professor of Jamaican origin, while in the US, and the duo later got married, and had two children – Kamala and Maya.

Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris

Although Kamala (54) has spoken about her heritage and has visited India quite a few times during her childhood, she is a citizen of the US, born and brought up there. However, some Indian netizens took to Twitter to celebrate (and some, criticise) the development, focusing on Kamala’s relation to India. Interestingly, the social media commentators also revealed the racial, socio-political, and cultural complexities of the rhetoric around the Vice President nominee.

Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra had a positive thought to share.

Actor and voice artist Ashwin Mushran found humour in the Indian response to Kamala:

On a more serious note, quite a few netizens noted that while Kamala – despite being a US citizen who spent her life in the US – is regarded as an “Indian,” Congress party president Sonia Gandhi – of Italian origin but has spent four decades in India - is still considered an outsider.

Kamala Harris has been a vocal critic of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and revocation of Section 370 in Kashmir, two moves by the incumbent government which had drawn applause and criticism from various parts of the world. Author and journalist Sharanya Manivannan made a cheeky comment alluding to these:

Author Kiran Manral also made a significant point, subtly hinting at the Indian hypocrisy:

On the one hand, many are rejoicing the candidature of a coloured woman for the first time in the history of a major party in the world’s most powerful country – something she has earned after decades of hard work and dedication. But on the other hand, Trump-supporters and self-proclaimed voice for India was busy spreading propaganda on Twitter – especially on the “qualifications for running the country” although Kamala has a degree in Political Science and Economics from Howard University and a Law Degree from University of California.

Indian media – across languages – had different responses.

The significance of race (and racism) in US elections was also pointed out.

Also Read: Meet the Women Pioneers Who Have Put India on the World Stage

(Edited by Varnika Gupta)

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