Baton Rougue, Louisiana, Jan 15: Bobby Jindal, the first Indian-American to be elected governor in the United States was sworn in Louisiana and he lost no time in reiterating his campaign pledge to change the corrupt image of Louisiana, and make it a symbol of ''the gold standard for ethics''.
''We have the opportunity --born of tragedy but embraced still the same-- to make right decades of failure in government,'' Jindal said in his inaugural speech, referring to hurricanes Katrina and Rita of 2005. Jindal, a former congressman, whose parents migrated to Louisiana from Punjab about forty years ago, became Louisiana's first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction. At a ceremony witnessed by thousands, Supreme Court's Chief Justice, Pascal administered the oath of office yesterday while Jindal's wife Supriya held the Bible. Jindal said he will call a special legislative session beginning on Feb.10 to seek ways and means of rectifying the state's image as a haven for corrupt politicians.
In his speech, he said: ''We can build a Louisiana where our leaders and our people set the highest standards and hold every member of our government accountable, a Louisiana where incompetence is not a synonym for government, a Louisiana where corruption does not hold us back,'' he said without going into details.
Jindal, 36, a conservative Republican, succeeds Democrat Kathleen Blanco, who had defeated him four years earlier. Louisiana is among the nation's most unhealthy and poorest states, its students still perform below average on national educational tests and its population is dwindling.
It was also lately in the news due to the murder of two Indian American students who were killed in an unexplained crime inside the University of Louisiana campus. Both the men were from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh and were married. The state police is yet to arrest anyone for the crime.
The boyish-looking Jindal will be the youngest US governor in office. He was just age 32, when he first ran for the Governor's position. Jindal already had served as Louisiana's health care secretary, president of one of its university systems and an assistant secretary in the US Department of Health and Human Services under President Bush.
Republican former Gov. Mike Foster tapped Jindal to be the state's health secretary in 1996, when Jindal was only 24.