Emotional Nikki visits Golden Temple after 40 years

She was barely two years old when she last visited India with her parents who came to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Forty-years on, Nikki Haley, the first Indian-American woman governor of a US state, was overwhelmed with emotions as she walked through the serene precincts of the sikh’s holiest shrine.

As a girl who grew up listening to stories of the Golden Temple and Punjab from her Sikh parents, Nikki could not hold back her tears. She sipped water, wiped off her tears, regained composure and then let her heart do the talking.

Nikki said: “It took me 40-years to be here, but it’s worth it. It is a really special and emotional moment for me. This is the place that has so often been talked about by my parents.

So many stories, so many memories. And now actually to be here is very exciting. It's nice to come back to the place my parents belong to. I feel blessed to be able to relive some of the memories shared by my parents.” As the governor of South Carolina, Nikki is leading an 18-member delegation to India to showcase Punjab as an ideal investment destination.

A Clemson University graduate, Nikki was born Nimrata Randhawa in South Carolina. Her parents, Ajit Singh Randhawa and Raj Kaur Randhawa, are from Amritsar. “I am not visiting the shrine in the capacity of a governor, but as a humble human to offer prayers to God almighty,” she said. Nikki’s purpose of visit is beyond recruiting Indian companies to invest in her state.

“India is like second home to me. Building business ties with Indian companies is my personal desire,” she said. In Chandigarh on Friday, Nikki tried to woo Indian business houses to invest in South Carolina with lucrative returns in domains like automobile, aerospace, information technology , pharmaceuticals, rubber and textiles.

“Come, invest and set up business in South Carolina and we at the government level will service you as an added employee,” Nikki told corporate honchos in Chandigarh.
Though Nikki was brought up as a Sikh, after marrying Michael Haley in 1996 , she converted to Christianity. To a question on whether this decision was out of political compulsion, Nikki said “it wasn’t political”.

“It was out of the fact that when you change, when you grow up, you need more, and when you don't understand the language…Christianity spoke to me that I could understand,” she said.

On rampant drug abuse in Punjab, Nikki said: “The answer lies in giving jobs so that they feel productive.”

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