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Thursday, March 04, 2021

Watching Kamala’s big day from Delhi: ‘Just keep doing what your mother taught you’

"We are all very proud of her. Her mother would have been proud too. I do not have any advice for her as such… just keep doing what your mother taught you,” Gopalan Balachandran, who used to work with the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, said.

Written by Ashna Butani | New Delhi |
Updated: January 21, 2021 7:36:07 am
Kamala Harris, US Vice President, Kamala Harris vice president, Kamala Harris news, Kamala Harris family, Kamala Harris India, indian express newsKamala Harris is Gopalan Balachandran’s neice.

Sitting at his Malviya Nagar home in Delhi, Gopalan Balachandran had his schedule clear for the night ahead: he would tune into CNN at 10:30 pm to watch his niece Kamala Harris being sworn in as the first woman Vice-President of the United States. Speaking to The Indian Express hours before the historic ceremony, he said: “I would have loved to be at the inaugural. But I did not want to risk it at this point. I will only go to the US after I have been vaccinated (against Covid). My daughter Sharada, who is very close to Kamala, is present at the ceremony.”

“We are all very proud of her. Her mother would have been proud too. I do not have any advice for her as such… just keep doing what your mother taught you,” Balachandran, who used to work with the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, said.

Speaking about her younger days, Balachandran said Harris inherited a number of traits from her mother, Shyamala. In her autobiography, The Truths We Hold, Harris wrote, “My mother had been raised in a household where political activism and civic leadership came naturally.” She spoke about how her grandmother would counsel women being abused by their husbands and how her mother often took her to civil rights marches while she was a toddler.

“I know she will continue making us proud. She might contest for elections as President in the next term… and I am sure she will win too,” he said.

Recalling the last time Balachandran met his niece, he said, “I was in the US in October 2019… it was only in August 2020 that Biden announced his running mate.”

Even though Balachandran speaks to Kamala every few months, most of their discussions are “family talk”. “We know what Kamala is up to because we get to see it all on television. But she doesn’t know what we are up to. So in Zoom conferences with the family, she enquires into our health and asks us how we are doing.” The last time he spoke to her was on a family Zoom call around a week ago.

Balachandran hopes to go to the US after he has been vaccinated, and stay with his daughter, who is a professor at the University of Maryland. The other members in Kamala’s family might also visit her after getting vaccinated, he said.

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