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Haley Inauguration: A day of firsts for SC

Jan 7, 2011 12:37:00 AM - thestate.com
When Nikki Haley takes the oath of office next week as the first Indian-American governor of South Carolina, the ceremony at the State House will resonate not only across South Carolina but in her parents’ native India.

Haley, a child of Sikh parents who emigrated from India and built a successful clothing company, earns a place in state history as the first minority governor and its first female chief executive.

The November election, pitting the 38-year-old Republican state representative and Tea Party favorite against Democrat Vincent Sheheen, “was big news all over India,” said Krishna C. Mandal, associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of South Carolina. “Newspapers, television, everywhere.”

But Mandal, like other Indian-Americans who make South Carolina their home, said once Haley won the election, he began to think about ways she could shape the economy and deal with the state’s problems.

“She is much more Carolinian than Indian. She talks the language of South Carolina,” said Mandal. “We want to see her as a governor in totality.”