This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by ED Times. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Who Is Kamala Harris And Why Should India Know About Her?

More from ED Times

By Chirali Sharma:

US politician Kamala Harris was a favourite among many millennial and young voters when she had initially submitted her name for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Being a Democrat who often stood with the common people and marginalised communities, she had been a good candidate overall.

On many of my social media platforms, I saw various Americans touting for saying how amazing she is and would make a good President. However, she ended her campaign on 3rd December last year due to a shortage of funds.

Kamala Harris’s nomination brings much awe with it since she is the first African American and Asian American to be chosen for this position.

Her name though is again making news with her recently being announced as Joe Biden’s running mate for the 2020 elections on 11th August. Biden, who is now the Democratic Party’s official nomination for the presidential elections has selected Harris as his vice-presidential nomination.

Her nomination brings much awe with it since she is the first African American and Asian American to be chosen for this position, especially by a presidential candidate of a major party in the United States.

However, there is much more to her than is known, and her Indian connection is among one of those.

Here are 10 things we should know about her, and why India itself should be aware of her:

#1. Indian Heritage

Kamala Harris is the daughter of the late Shyamala Gopalan Harris and Donald Harris. Her father comes from Jamaica while her mother hails from Tamil Nadu, Chennai in India. Both were immigrants in the US and met at the University of California, Berkeley, where her mother was pursuing a doctorate in endocrinology, and her father was studying economics.

Harris has spoken of how her parents met, “My mother and father, they came from opposite sides of the world to arrive in America. One from India and the other from Jamaica in search of a world-class education. But what brought them together was the civil rights movement of the 1960s. And that is how they met as students in the streets of Oakland marching and shouting for this thing called justice in a struggle that continues today.” 

Her grandfather is also said to be a freedom fighter during the Independence movement in India. Harris would often visit Chennai to see her maternal grandparents, spending her summers there.

#2. Not Afraid To Stand Against Indian Policies

Harris has shown a few times now that she is not afraid to stand against Indian policies which she disagrees with. She had also spoken about the situation of Kashmir after the Modi government had abolished Article 370 in October 2019.

While answering a question about the “human rights abuses” in Kashmir and the type of restrictions put in Kashmir such as curfews, communication blackout, etc., she stated, “We have to remind the Kashmiris that they are not alone in the world. We are keeping a track on the situation. There is a need to intervene if the situation demands.” 

She had also criticised External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar when he refused to attend a meeting during his US visit last year because of Indian-origin Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s participation.

Jaishankar had said he would not attend the House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting because of Pramila’s presence. Pramila had already tried to move a resolution on the Kashmir issue which is what Jaishankar had taken offence to and decided to shun her out. Harris, in a tweet, had criticised this move and said, “It’s wrong for any foreign government to tell Congress what members are allowed in meetings on Capitol Hill.” 

It should also be noted that Biden himself has not been very favourable to the Citizenship Amendment Act brought out by the ruling government.

#3. Multicultural Roots

Her multicultural roots certainly allow her to empathise with and understand the more marginalised and minority communities.

In 2003, she told AsianWeek that “I grew up with a strong Indian culture, and I was raised in a black community. All my friends were black, and we got together and cooked Indian food and painted henna on our hands, and I never felt uncomfortable with my cultural background.” 

Harris and her sister Maya also attended both a Hindu temple and were part of the choir at a black Baptist church. They also used to visit their father’s birthplace in Jamaica and their mother’s town in Chennai often.

#4. Has Wanted To Be A Lawyer Since Childhood

Harris has also stated many times that she has always wanted to be a lawyer. An incident from her childhood is said to be monumental in her decision. While she was studying in high school in Montreal, she had her friend live with her in her house when she found out that the girl was being sexually abused by her father.

In an interview with The Chronicle, she said that “Some of the most voiceless in the community, the most vulnerable, the most powerless, are victims of crime, and I wanted to be a voice for them.”

#5. Called Out Biden Himself

Kamala Harris has also called out Joe Biden for some of his comments that did not sit well with her. She called his statements of even getting work done with segregationist senators as an example of “civility” in Congress to be “hurtful” to her.

She had also accused Biden of opposing busing in some of her statements.

#6. Is Known For Her Grilling Of Justice Kavanaugh During His Trial

Harris’ video of her questioning then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings had gone viral.

Her forceful questioning was applauded by many Americans online and is one reason why she is so well known.

#7. Supports Gun Control

Kamala Harris has advocated for better gun control in America, something that is a big part of her presidential candidature. She has stated that she would get Congress to tighten the gun regulations within her first 100 days in power or would take executive action.

#8. Supports Reformation Of Police

Not only gun control, but lately Harris is also an avid spokesperson of reform in US police and how they do their duty. Given the recent police brutality cases that have come up, this stance is critical to many people there.

#9. Supports Indian Immigration

Although Harris has called out some of the Indian policies, it is said that she could be pro-immigration of Indians. In 2019, she was one of the lead co-sponsor for legislation that would increase the number of green cards given to countries like India and China.

#10. First Indian American Woman To Run For US Presidency

She is certainly the first in various cases, the first Black woman to get a seat in the Senate, and now the first Asian American and African American to be the vice-presidential nominee.

Note: A version of this post was first published here.

You must be to comment.

More from ED Times

Similar Posts

By Ritwik Trivedi

By shakeel ahmad

By Prabhanu Kumar Das

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below