A great great granddaughter of Ganga Ram, an Indian civil engineer known for building a network of health infrastructures in both India and Pakistan before partition, is running for a top elected position in the US State of Vermont.
Seeking an inspiration from her great great-grandfather, Indian-Jewish-American Kesha Ram promises to make accessible health care and education as one of her prime focus if elected as the Lt Governor of the American State of Vermont later this fall.
Ram, 29, is the first woman of colour to run for State wide office in Vermont.
Vermont has been in the news lately as its Senator Bernie Sanders is a Democratic presidential candidate and is giving a run for the money to the party’s frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
“I was there (in India) last year. Unfortunately, I had to take my father’s ashes to the holy river. But in the course of
the trip, we were able to visit Sir Ganga Ram hospital, where my relatives lead the board of directors,” Ram told PTI in an interview.
Her father was born in Lahore but after partition the family moved to India and grew in Punjab. He came to Los Angeles for studies as a student where he met her mother, a Jewish American.
“Together they opened an Irish pub in Los Angeles,” she said, adding that here she helped her father.
For her studies, Ram moved to the University of Vermont. She was elected to the state House of Representatives at age 22 to represent the University District and Hill Section of Burlington. She has represented the district since 2009.
“It (Indian and Jewish heritage) really gave me an important foundation in terms of tolerance and being versatile, hoping to bridge different world,” she said.
“Vermont and the country is at a very pivotal time when we are having conversations about whether or not keep our borders open and how to be a welcoming place for people from other countries. I feel uniquely positioned how to lead that conversation as some one with an immigrant parents with a diverse background,” Ram said in response to a question.
Ram said Sanders gave her the “first big break” in politics.
“He invited me to introduce him and then Senator Barack Obama on stage when I was a student, when Bernie was running for the Senate seat for the first time. Ever since then, I have been very grateful to his leadership and his role in shaping, change and advocating for economic equality,” Ram said, adding that for now she is very supportive of the message and energy coming from the Sanders’s campaign.
Asked if the US is ready for the first woman president, she said yes.
“I believe; the US has been ready for the first US president. I hope, if it is not Hillary Clinton, people do not see that as the country not being ready for a woman president. The country is still having a conversation about gender
equality,” she said.