Kids Corner


Sikh-Born Nikki Haley Elected Governor of South Carolina

by M & C



South Carolina on Tuesday elected Republican Nikki Haley, the daughter of Sikh immigrant parents, as the first Asian woman to become a U.S. governor.

She beat fellow state legislator Vincent Sheheen, taking 51 per cent of the vote to his 47 per cent.

'Tomorrow morning there's going to be a lot of news and a lot of observers who say we made history. And in some ways, you can look at me and say, 'Yes, we did,'' Haley said Tuesday night in her victory speech.

'But what I want this to be is that we're turning a page. We're turning a page on where we've been, but the history is going to be on where we're going to go.'

She made little of her immigrant family background during her speech, aside from a reference to her parents reminding her how lucky she is to live in the United States. Instead, the speech accentuated that she is through-and-through American, with references to family, '80s music and politics all delivered with the hint of a southern drawl.

'Regardless of how you voted, I'm going to get to work for you,' she assured voters.

An accountant and businesswoman, she has served in the South Carolina legislature since 2004, when she became the first Punjabi-American elected to a state office.

Haley, 38, was born Nimrata Kaur Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina, one of three children of parents from Amritsar, Punjab. She eventually went to work in the family's prosperous apparel business.

Haley converted to Protestant Christianity before getting married but attends both Methodist and Sikh services out of respect to her parents.

With a reputation in the legislature as an anti-tax, fiscal conservative, her long-shot candidacy starting in 2009 for the Republican nomination for governor melded easily with the national anti-government mood.

She replaces Governor Mark Sanford, who is stepping down due to term limits.

However, his tenure in office, which was overshadowed by a sex scandal, trickled over into Haley's race, with ultimately disproven claims that Haley had also had an affair with Sanford, turning the campaign into one of the 'tawdriest races in history,' according to

The race saw Haley endure one of her opponents for the Republican nomination smearing her with the ethnic slur 'raghead.' But she also enjoyed support via endorsements from former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and, even, Sanford's wife.

[Courtesy: Monsters & Critics]

November 3, 2010

Conversation about this article

1: Gursharn Singh Nagi (Delhi, India), November 03, 2010, 9:57 AM.

Why fuss over her ... the Sikh Panth should stop depending on politicians. A perfect example is Manmohan Singh, PM of India.

2: Kanwar Singh Nijjer (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), November 03, 2010, 12:06 PM.

None of our politicians are true to Sikhi. I mean none of them follow Sikh values. In Canada, we have a good number of them. Majority of them are sheepish, merely waiting for a fat pay cheque. I don't see them fighting for the rights of the poor, or for equality and justice.

3: Jodh Singh (Jericho, New York, U.S.A.), November 03, 2010, 5:11 PM.

Perhaps Gursharn Singh ji missed when a Malaysian Sikh said, "I am very happy that my big brother (wadda veer) has come here as Prime Minister of India." His face was exuding pride and happiness! Victory of a person of Punjabi extraction, especially from Amritsar, is a matter of great pride. How come you celebrate the lone Sikh U.S. Congressman to date, the late Dalip Singh Saund and you want to remember him? Today you call these Sikh leaders as timid and unimportant. I think every Punjabi must be proud of having two governors of two states in the U.S. - Bobby Jindal from Malerkotla, Punjab, as Governor of Louisiana and Nikki Randhawa Haley as Governor of South Carolina.

4: Rabinder Pal Singh (New York, U.S.A. ), November 03, 2010, 7:29 PM.

I think we should be happy that Nikki Haley who was labeled as a "raghead" is now going to run the state of South Carolina. It is a victory for all 'ragheads'. Nikki fought the bigots, the scandalmongers, like a true Sikh (sorry, some won't accept that label) and won the race. How many of us go to gurughar and fight elections which make us sick?

5: Karam Lamba (Ahmedabad, India), November 04, 2010, 4:31 AM.

It is likely that she can do more for her Sikh community than Manmohan Singh did. Let's work with her.

6: Ari Singh (Sofia, Bulgaria), November 04, 2010, 7:03 AM.

Before anyone points finger at Nikki Haley, let them be aware that Dalip Singh Saund was not a practising Sikh either. Bulgarians are proud that the new president of Brazil is a lady who had a Bulgarian grand father! I congratulate Nikki Haley for creating history.

7: S. Singh (Australia), November 05, 2010, 5:19 PM.

It's Nikki Haley's personal achievement in life ... good luck to her. Don't understand why we are spending so much time and energy reporting on her, though.

8: Raj (Canada), November 06, 2010, 4:46 PM.

I think we're wrong here. Politicians only work to win an election. They'll do it by bartering anything like morality, religion, values or whatever. It's wrong to expect them to follow even simple morality even if they belong to the Sikh religion. Look at the Sikh politicians of the last century. What we're looking for in leaders may exist in an ordinary Sikh, but definitely will not exist in any politician. It's about time we understand the true meaning of miri and piri. It may be about spirituality and protecting it with all our "might". Remember, none of the Gurus set up any type of government, yes they did defend the right to practice our religion, with "force" as a last resort and if absolutely necessary. Mixing religion and politics have gotten us people Sant Fateh Singh, Giani Zail Singh and the Badals.

9: R. Singh (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), November 08, 2010, 7:55 AM.

Nikki Haley exists in today's world where even the most devout of bible-thumpers realize the value of people beyond their narrow confines. The need to pander to the basest of constituencies need not be termed bravery, but expediency. Of course if those are values we impart to our children, then we will have everyone run at the first sight of a shadow, and publicly disown their history, beliefs, heritage, parentage ... anything and everything! That is not a very pretty picture, even if it is set in a governor's mansion.

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