Proud daughter of Indian immigrants: Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley

Daughter of Sikh immigrant parents from Punjab, Indian-American Namrata "Nikki" Randhawa Haley proudly recollected her Indian heritage while being sworn in as the first woman and non-white Governor of South Carolina.

"I stand before you today, the proud daughter of Indian immigrants," Haley said in her inaugural speech on the State House's south steps on Wednesday.

Top several Republican leaders including Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a number of Congressmen and a large number of Indian Americans from various parts of the country, and the Indian Ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar, braved some frigid weather to be present during the historic occasion.

"Growing up in rural, small town South Carolina, my family experienced this state and this country at its best. No, not every day was perfect. No, we were not always free from the burdens faced by those who look and sound different," said Haley who after Bobby Jindal from Louisiana, is only the second Indian-American Governor.

She is also the first ever Indian-American woman governor in the United States.

"But we counted our blessings, and my parents reminded me and my brothers and sister every day how blessed we were to live in this country. We saw the constant example of neighbours helping neighbours," she said after being administered the oath by the State Supreme Court Chief Justice, Jean Toal.

"For us, happiness existed in not knowing what we didn't have, and in knowing that what we did have was the opportunity to better our lives through hard work and strong values," said Haley who was dressed in bright, white overcoat for the occasion.

Her husband, Michael and their two children Rena and Nalin, were standing by her side during the swearing in ceremony.

"You see, my mother was offered one of the first female judgeships in her native country, but was unable to serve on the bench because of the challenges of being a woman in India. Now she sits here today watching her daughter become Governor of South Carolina, the state she proudly calls her home. When you grow up with a mom like that, the word 'can't' is not in your vocabulary," Haley said.

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