Kamala Harris’ Tamil Nadu ties & US Foreign Policy in S. Asia
By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune Foreign Policy
Past two-to-three months, polls after polls nationally taken by reputed media and think tank organizations have indicated the imminent defeat of the incumbent US President Donald Trump. Most polls have revealed that Democratic Party candidate Joseph Biden is ten percentage points ahead of Trump.Kamala Devi Harris (right) with mother Shyamala Gopalan (left) and aunt Sarala Gopalan in a family picture taken in India in 2005
With the announcement of the Joseph Biden-Kamala Harris ticket for the November 3 presidential elections, the enthusiasm has increased with millions of dollars pouring into the election coffers of the Democratic Party giving a very clear indication of the emergence of the Biden-Harris administration on January 20 next year.
This media unit – Asian Tribune – always gives special focus on how the western world influences and affects the Asian region in general and South Asian region in particular, and with an imminent Biden-Harris administration in Washington next year one needs to get a sense of what subtle messages emanate taking note of Democratic candidate Joseph Biden’s vice president’s intimate ties to Tamil Nadu and the Tamil race.
This media network, on frequent intervals, has been highlighting Washington’s ambitious military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region, and its strong established military ties with India. In December 2019, Washington and New Delhi cemented its military ties at the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue accelerating the Obama Administration’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ under the Trump rule. A Biden-Harris administration undoubtedly will continue with that military strategy to combat the expansion of the Peoples Republic of China, as Asian Tribune in many interpretive analyses has pointed out.
Washington’s military maneuvers do include Sri Lanka’s agreements with Pentagon – ACSA, SOFA and MCC Compact – undoubtedly covering Washington-New Delhi ‘bond’ in the larger Indo-Pacific region, and it will be interesting to see, with the advent of the Biden-Harris administration next year, how Sri Lanka fits into this equation.
And this is where the Rajapaksa duo’s administration – with a new Foreign Ministry Secretary (retired) Admiral Jayanath Colombage in place who has already expressed the desire to ‘streamline’ Sri Lanka’s foreign policy – needs to give serious thought to the impending changes in Washington, come January 2021. Given the changes next January, Sri Lanka will undoubtedly be somewhere on Washington’s policy planks considering the State Department’s serious concern of ‘Tamil reparation’.
A special focus on Sri Lanka by the new American administration can be attributed to Kamala Devi Harris’ strong ties with Chennai, her ethnic Tamil heritage, the Sri Lankan-Tamil influence in her immediate staff, India’s utmost interest in Sri Lanka’s ‘Tamil National Issues’ with US-India combined military manoeuvres in the region in which Sri Lanka is considered by Washington ‘a real estate’.
The affinity Kamala Devi Harris has toward South Indian culture – mostly Tamil culture – speaks volumes of what her attitude and the closeness to ‘everything Hindu Tamil’ when considering following incidents.
Reports have emerged that the Varasiddhi Vinayagar Temple at Besant Nagar in Chennai has a special place in California senator Kamala Harris’ heart. Not just because her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was in the committee when the temple was constructed. But because when she contested California’s Attorney General election, she called her maternal aunt Sarala Gopalan with a request: “Chithi (aunt), please pray for me and break coconuts at the temple.”
Gopalan broke 108 coconuts at the temple in a ritual that symbolizes overcoming all obstacles and breaking free. After her victory, Harris called her aunt to thank her. “Your coconuts worked, Chithi. For every coconut you broke, I got 1,000 votes,” she said happily. Six years later, when Harris contested to become a senator in 2016 in the State of California, Gopalan again broke 108 coconuts. Harris won again.
Since she became Joe Biden’s vice-presidential running mate, Sarala Gopalan told Business Line “We don’t live in Besant Nagar anymore. But yes, when I go there, I will break coconuts this time too.
A gynecologist and obstetrician by profession, Sarala attributed Harris’ growth to her elder sister Shyamala’s support and upbringing. “My sister went to the US at a very young age. She was very progressive and always taught her children what is right and wrong,” she said, adding, “Shyamala never stopped her from pursuing her interests.” Harris, for her part, never loses an opportunity to acknowledge this or, for that matter, the role played by her grandfather PV Gopalan, a career civil servant, in building her social consciousness at a tender age. Her mother, of course, was a major influence in her life. She has repeatedly called her mother, ‘a proud woman’ with the ability to dream and then work to make it come true.
When Shyamala died in 2009, Harris flew down to Chennai to immerse her ashes in the Bay of Bengal according to her mother’s wish. She had remained in touch with her mother’s family and continues to enjoy Vathakuzhambu and lemon rasam – her favourite South Indian dishes.
As a child, Kamala Harris often visited her grandparents and other members of the maternal family in Tamil Nadu. “My mother, grandparents, aunts and uncle instilled us with pride in our South Asian roots … we were raised with a strong awareness of and appreciation for Indian culture. All of my mother’s words of affection or frustration came out in her mother tongue (Tamil) – which seems fitting to me since the purity of those emotions is what I associate with my mother most of all,” Kamala Harris wrote in her memoir. Harris is said to love idli and sambhar.
These stories give some indication that Ms Harris, in the Biden White House, has a possibility of paying some attention – among many other major foreign policy issues – to unsolved ethnic/national issues in Sri Lanka. It is interesting to know whether the new Sri Lanka Secretary of Foreign Affairs would take note of the above scenario when he plans to ‘revise’ or ‘adjust’ the foreign policy of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration.
– Asian Tribune –
’ Tamil Nadu ties & US Foreign Policy in S. Asia
Kamala Harris & Mindy Kaling Cook Masala Dosa
Is Kamala harris of Indian or Sri Lankan-Indian ancestry? (ICYMI)
but needs to be fact-checked……
Sent: Sun, Aug 16, 2020
Subject: A new Kamala twist.
Kamala Harris-Her maternal ancestry is Jaffna!
Kamala Harris is not an Indian.
Her grandfather Mr P. V Gopalan is from Manipay, Jaffna and Gopalan’s wife Mrs Rajam Gopalan is from Batticaloa. Sri Lanka.
Mr P.V Gopalan was a civil servant under the British govt. He moved to South India and her daughter Shymala Gopalan was born in South India.
Thereafter they moved to New Delhi and thence to California, where Shyamala married Donald Harris-a Jamaican.
Their daughter is Kamala Devi Harris. She was born in Oakland California.
Her father was an economics professor at the prestigious Stanford University in California, where he taught and carried out research.
He is a naturalised U.S. citizen.
Her mother was a breast cancer researcher.
Both were highly educated and held PhDs.Kamala was brought up in the Hindu tradition; She married a Jewish man. Now she is a “nominal christian”.
She has no children and she married at age 49 and has two step children.
Kamala Harris Family Tree | What’s the Difference Between Race & Ethnicity?