In an already long list of Indian origin politicians, the clout of Indian diasporas has been further underlined as Nikki R. Haley, the Indian-American politician who is serving as the 116th Governor of South Carolina since 2011, was nominated as the US ambassador to the United Nations by the US president-elect Donald Trump yesterday.
A record number of Indian-origin candidates including Keith Vaz, Priti Patel, Deepak Obhrai and Bobby Jindal, among others, have a special connection with huge Indian-origin electorates abroad. And witnessing this popularity, Nikki Haley has been nominated as the US ambassador to the United Nations by the newly elected US president Donald Trump yesterday.
The decision came as a surprise after Haley, daughter of Raj and Ajit Randhawa, immigrants from the Indian state of Punjab, was unfavourable towards Trump during his primary campaign.
“Governor Haley has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country,” Trump said.
“She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage,” he added.
From a young age Haley started helping her family with their clothing business and as the 116th Governor of South Carolina, she was internationally recognised for raising a voice against the Confederate battle flag massacre in Charleston. She was elected to the State House in 2004 and in 2009 she declared she was running for the post of governor.
At 44, Haley, whose original name is Nimrata Randhawa, is already an Indian-American success story. Apart from being the first female governor of South Carolina, she is only the second Indian American ever elected governor, the other being Bobby Jindal, and the first Indian-American to be appointed at a cabinet-level post in any US administration.
The position offered to her is a cabinet-level position, which would require a confirmation by the United States Senate, a legislative chamber of the United States. If confirmed, Haley would be the first Indian-American to be appointed to a cabinet-level position in any presidential administration.
“Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally, and I am honoured that the President-elect has asked me to join his team and serve the country we love as the next Ambassador to the United Nations,” Haley said.
Falling in or out with the decision?
While the nomination is being supported by many across the world, there are others who question the practicality of it, thus making this a decision drawing mixed reactions.
“If confirmed, we hope she will raise that voice on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable people who suffer from hunger, violence and injustice around the world,” said the advocacy group Oxfam.
Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s critics in the past, praised the nomination and wrote, “Haley would be a strong voice for UN reform and stand for American interests throughout the world.”
However, there are others who tempered their admiration for her with concern about whether her public service credentials, which are limited to South Carolina government, would translate to the world stage. “My very practical reaction is that she’d be the least-experienced UN ambassador in the history of the country,” said Bakari Sellers, CNN commentator.
However, the lady, at every stage, has earlier proven her caliber. Just like Barack Obama’s house speaker Paul Ryan had mentioned, “If you want to hear an inclusive leader who is visionary, who’s got a path for the future, who has brought people together, who is unified, it’s Nikki Haley.”