Having gone from state legislature to Governor of South Carolina in a span of just six years, Nikki Randhawa Haley is being hailed as a rising star on the American political horizon.
Daughter of Punjabi Sikh immigrants from Amritsar, Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley (38) has become the first Indian-origin woman, and second Indian-American after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, to become the Governor of a U.S. state. Another Indian-American Kamala Harris won the election for Attorney-General of California. Five other Indian-Americans, all Democrats, bit the dust in the face of an anti-establishment vote.
It has not been smooth sailing for Ms. Haley, mother of Nalin (nine) and Rena (12), as she had to overcome allegations of extramarital affairs and racial digs in her race for governorship. She fought a tough battle in the primaries and in the final run, receiving 52 per cent of the votes as against her Democratic rival Vincent Sheehan, who polled 46 per cent.
Born in Bamberg, South Carolina, Ms. Haley’s first job was book keeping at her family’s clothing store — at the age of 13. After graduating from Clemson University with a BS degree in accounting, she worked as accounting supervisor for a North Carolina based corporation. Ms. Haley then went back to the family business where she helped oversee its growth into a multi-million dollar operation.
In 2004, Ms. Haley was the first Republican Indian-American to win a State House seat. In 2008, Representative Ms. Haley was sent back to the State House with 83 per cent of the vote.
She is recognised as a pro-business leader and an outspoken advocate for added accountability in the legislature.
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