Lalit K Jha
Washington, Jan 13 (PTI) Daughter of Sikh immigrantparents from Punjab, Indian-American Namrata "Nikki" RandhawaHaley proudly recollected her Indian heritage while beingsworn in as the first woman and non-white Governor of SouthCarolina.
"I stand before you today, the proud daughter ofIndian immigrants," Haley said in her inaugural speech on theState House''s south steps yesterday.
Top several Republican leaders including MississippiGovernor Haley Barbour, a number of Congressmen and a largenumber of Indian Americans from various parts of the country,and the Indian Ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar, bravedsome frigid weather to be present during the historicoccasion.
"Growing up in rural, small town South Carolina, myfamily experienced this state and this country at its best.
No, not every day was perfect. No, we were not always freefrom the burdens faced by those who look and sound different,"said Haley who after Bobby Jindal from Louisiana, is only thesecond Indian-American Governor.
She is also the first ever Indian-American womangovernor in the United States.
"But we counted our blessings, and my parentsreminded me and my brothers and sister every day how blessedwe were to live in this country. We saw the constant exampleof neighbours helping neighbours," she said after beingadministered the oath by the State Supreme Court ChiefJustice, Jean Toal.
"For us, happiness existed in not knowing what wedidn''t have, and in knowing that what we did have was theopportunity to better our lives through hard work and strongvalues," said Haley who was dressed in bright, white overcoatfor the occasion.
Her husband, Michael and their two children Rena andNalin, were standing by her side during the swearing inceremony.
"You see, my mother was offered one of the firstfemale judgeships in her native country, but was unable toserve on the bench because of the challenges of being a womanin India.
"Now she sits here today watching her daughter becomeGovernor of South Carolina, the state she proudly calls herhome. When you grow up with a mom like that, the word''can''t'' is not in your vocabulary," Haley said.
"I will always be the proud daughter of immigrants. Iwill always cherish our family''s experience. And I will alwaysstrive in my actions and in my words to make South Carolina aplace where all of our children, regardless of race or gender,know that unlimited opportunities for happiness and successawait them," Haley said in her speech.
Haley succeeds Mark Stanford, who has been SouthCarolina''s Governor for the last eight years.