A record five Indian-Americans have taken oath as members of the US Congress, scripting history for the minority ethnic community that comprises just one per cent of America’s population.
52-year-old Kamala Harris, whose mother was from India and father from Jamaica, was sworn in on Tuesday as the Senator from California by outgoing US vice president Joe Biden. She is the first Indian-American to have ever served in the Senate.
She was accompanied by her husband Doug Emhoff, sister Maya Harris and other members of her immediate family during the swearing in ceremony.
Harris, who before the swearing in held the position of California Attorney General, replaced Senator Barbara Boxer, who decided against seeking re-election. She is one of the seven new Senators to have taken office in the new Congress.
“Today I was sworn-in to the US Senate. I am humbled and honoured to serve you and the people of California. Let’s get to work,” Harris said immediately thereafter.
After her elections, she has made it clear that her top priority would be to fight out the alleged divisive policies of the Republicans who are now in majority in both the House of Representative and the Senate.
A few hours later, the focus of the community shifted to the House Chambers wherein as many as four Indian-Americans were sworn in as its members, including Congressman Ami Bera, who has been re-elected for the third consecutive term.
In the process Bera, 51, equalled the record of Dalip Singh Saundh, who exactly 60-years ago became the first Indian-American to be elected as a member of the US Congress.
Joining Bera was young and dynamic Ro Khanna (40) representing the Silicon Valley. He was sworn in on a bicentennial edition of the Constitution on loan from the rare books division of the Library of Congress.
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, 42, who won the election from Illinois took the oath on Gita. He is only the second US lawmaker after Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii to take the oath on a Gita. Gabbard, the first ever Hindu to be elected to the US Congress took the oath for third consecutive term.
Having created a national niche for herself even before being sworn in, Pramila Jayapal (51) is the first Indian American woman in the US House of Representatives. Her 78-year-old mother, who especially came in from India, watched the proceedings from the gallery.