rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » I never thought of a life in politics: Nikki Haley

I never thought of a life in politics: Nikki Haley

August 09, 2012 14:27 IST

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the first Indian-American woman to occupy the top job in a US state, never talked of politics in their house while growing up and saw politicians as someone who often seemed to be busy promoting themselves.

"We didn't talk about politics or government in our house when I was growing up. That may sound strange coming from someone who is best known for my time in public service, but it's true," she writes in her memoir "Can't Is Not An Option: My American Story".

Told firsthand, 40-year-old Haley shares her inspirational memoir of family, hope, and the power of the American Dream.

"I never thought of a life in politics. It was a world I knew nothing about and didn't care to. From what I could tell, politicians were people on TV who claimed to be working for us but too often seemed to be busy promoting themselves," she writes in the book published by Penguin.

Decades before their daughter surprised the nation by becoming governor of South Carolina, Haley's parents Ajit and Raj Randhawa from Punjab had a dream. But despite their high social status, the well-educated and well-off Randhawas wanted more for their family and left behind all they had known and settled in Bamberg, South Carolina in the early 1970s.

The family struggled to make ends meet while starting a clothing business in their living room, eventually growing it into a multimillion- dollar success. After graduating from college and entering the business world, Haley watched business owners like her parents battle government bureaucracy and overregulation.

Her frustration inspired her to get into politics and run for the state legislature. That first campaign, against an entrenched incumbent, led to racial and religious slurs and threats but Haley, like her parents, refused to back down.

She won on a promise to fight for reform, lean budgets, and government accountability, which is exactly what she did-much to the dismay of South Carolina's old guard politicians.

Soon she had a reputation as a conservative leader who could get things done. In the same state where her family was once ridiculed, she inspired a diverse grassroots following.

In November 2010 she was elected South Carolina's first female governor and first non-white governor, and only the second Indian American governor in the country.

She calls herself as the "proud daughter of Indian parents who reminded me everyday how blessed we were to live in this country".

According to her, "The government was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was never intended to be all things to all people. If the people whose money is being spent -- the taxpayers -- controlled government rather than the other way around, government would live within its means."

She writes that her goal in public life is to "help people find their voices -- to control their destinies rather than let others control them; to let people know that they deserve better at all levels of government".

Haley says in her lifetime, she has seen the wondrous changes that the human condition can inspire when it is allowed to be free.

"When the daughter of Indian immigrants, who grew up in a small rural town in the segregated south, can become the first female and minority governor of her state and the youngest governor in the nation, then it's clear that the American dream still exists," she writes.

"Yes, we have challenges. But I have great faith that this will all sort itself out for the better. Ask me about my faith in a rising, shining America, and the answer is never in doubt. For my country -- just as for me -- 'can't' is not an option."

© Copyright 2014 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.