“It is a biography of sorts, but wider in scope"
Washington DC-based journalist and author Chidanand Rajghatta is set to launch his new book, Kamala Harris: Phenomenal Woman, which narrates the rise of the US Vice President.
Chidanand details how Harris came to be the first female vice president.
He also reveals some previously unknown facts about her.
For example, Harris’ middle name at birth was Iyer before it was changed to Devi.
Chidanand writes that the drawing room friends of the parents of Harris at the University of California, Berkeley, when she was a child were Lord Meghnad Desai, Amartya Sen and Ajit Singh, economists and contemporaries of former prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Kamala Harris was born in Oakland, California on October 20, 1964.
Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, immigrated to the US from India in 1958 to study nutrition and endocrinology at the University of California.
Whilst there, she met Harris’ father Donald Harris, an African-American from British Jamaica.
In the book, Chidanand says that Donald spent some time at the Delhi School of Economics on a fellowship when Harris was a toddler.
The book begins as a profile of Harris’ mother, partially due to Chidanand’s own interest as his father came to the US around the same time as Shyamala.
He says the story was so fascinating, it expanded into a larger narrative of Harris’ childhood, life and career.
Chidanand says: “It is a biography of sorts, but wider in scope, examining the history of the Indian-American community (of which I’m one – with mixed-race children) and India’s ties with Black America (under-reported and under-chronicled), including exchanges between Black activists such as George Washington Carver, Booker Washington, and WEB Dubois, and Mahatma Gandhi, whose aides Madeleine Slade (Mirabai) and Charlie Andrews visited Howard for lectures that influenced a civil rights activist generation before MLK Jr.”
The book also explores the suffragette movement and the obstacles women face in political representation and ascendancy.
Chidanand adds: “For Kamala, cooking is both therapy and art.
“No matter how we interpret Kamala’s involvement with food, her rise has inserted some of India’s most well-loved foods into the visual and oral culture of a historic political run.
“Some of these, like the idli and dosa, and okra cooked two ways, are throwbacks to Kamala’s childhood.
“Some others run parallel to the evolution of her eclectic palette.”
The author explained that the evidence indicates that Kamala Harris will be the most consequential and powerful vice president in US history.
He writes: “When Kamala took the stage on Inauguration Day, it marked a high point for the look she has perfected over two decades of public life.
“Well cut, comfortable, often deep colours with a preference for shades seen in autumn leaves.”
“Purple was a departure, but like all things for Kamala, it was a carefully curated choice that spoke to Black aspiration.”
In the book, Chidanand says: “She sports her trusty pearls often and easily, with pantsuits and the occasional swishy dress, as she did on the big day.
“Wherever she goes, Kamala’s style will remind women everywhere to ‘see yourselves in a way that others may not’.”
Kamala Harris: Phenomenal Woman launches later in October 2021.