Nikki Haley’s kin in Punjab celebrate her rise as US envoy to UN
Nikki Haley may have been born in the United States but her extended family back in India is thrilled that the South Carolina governor has been named by US President-elect Donald Trump as ambassador to the United Nations.
Haley’s parents hail from rural Punjab; they moved to Amritsar before emigrating to North America in the early 1960s. Haley, 44, was born Nimrata Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina. She was called “Nikki” as a child and took the family name of husband Michael when they married in Sikh and Methodist ceremonies in 1996.
“It is a great achievement for Punjab and India. We are proud of the fact that (Nikki) has achieved this success,” Randhawa told Reuters by telephone. Randhawa, a retired lecturer, said he was in regular touch with Nikki’s father, Ajit Singh Randhawa, who grew up in the village of Pandori Ran Singh, south of Amritsar.
India’s foreign ministry said it was happy to hear news of Haley’s appointment, describing her as a supporter of closer US-India ties who had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited Washington in June. “We know Governor Haley very well,” said spokesman Vikas Swarup.
Haley came only once to India as a four-year-old child, doesn’t speak Punjabi and has converted to Christianity.
But she has visited India more recently in an official capacity, going to Amritsar in November 2014 on what she called “an emotional and very personal day”. “I always yearned to see Punjab — my motherland — and now I am so proud to be here after almost 40 years,” she told TV reporters at the time, her voice choking with emotion as she steadied herself with nips from a water bottle.