Kamala Harris pick sparks delight in India and JamaicaDiversity is strength, in both genetics and the human experience.
Well before dawn on Wednesday, the phone began to ring in Gopalan Balachandran's home in India's capital. It was his sister calling from the other end of the country and she had exceptionally good news to share: their niece could become the next vice president of the United States.
Balachandran, Harris' 80-year-old maternal uncle, laughed and proclaimed himself "very, very happy" with the news. Harris is "quick on her feet and a damn good debater," he said. She is also well prepared to handle the nastiness of the upcoming campaign, he added. Harris "doesn't take things lying down."
His sister Sarala Gopalan, a retired doctor in the South Indian city of Chennai, told an Indian television channel that the entire family was thrilled by the news. She praised Harris as a kind and devoted niece. "If I send her a message right now saying, Kamala, I need you,' the next day she will be there," Gopalan said.
On social media, Indian politicians and commentators also exulted in Harris' selection. The fact that someone of Indian origin could be "a proverbial heartbeat away from the presidency is thrilling," wrote Shashi Tharoor, a politician with the opposition Congress Party.
Ram Madhav, a senior official in India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, saluted the history-making nature of the pick. Another Indian political commentator said the selection represented a "triumph of diversity and democracy."
In Tamil Nadu, the south Indian state where Harris's mother grew up, there was special pride. Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, a local politician, praised the "inclusiveness" of the choice and wished Harris well in the election.
In Jamaica, there was also pride and delight at the new Democratic contender for vice president. Richard Bernal, a former Jamaican ambassador to the United States, is a longtime friend of Harris's father. Bernal likened the situation to when Colin Powell became the U.S. Secretary of State (Powell's parents were Jamaican immigrants).
"We are people from a small country," Bernal said. But Jamaicans "always feel they can accomplish anything," That self-confidence has helped them "survive and thrive all over the world."