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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has picked California Senator Kamala Harris, whose mother is a Tamilian from South India, as his vice-presidential running mate for the 2020 Presidential election.

Harris, who was born in Oakland, California, and whose father is Jamaican, will be the first black and Indian American on a major US party ticket. She is also only the fourth woman in history to be chosen for a major party’s presidential ticket.

Harris was on Biden’s shortlist because of her formidable record as a prosecutor and as a Senator in her relatively short stint in the Senate. Although California is a Democratic fortress and Biden does not need her help to win the state, the choice brings a geographical balance to the ticket because the former vice-president is from Delaware on the east coast. She is also expected to be a sparkling debater in a vice-presidential face-off with the staid Mike Pence.

Biden and Harris are expected to make an appearance together in Delaware on Wednesday to present a united front.

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Although she considers herself Black, Harris has often spoken of her Indian roots, including visits to Chennai when she was young to spend summers with her grandfather who was a civil servant in the government of India. Her mother Shyamala Gopalan, was a breast cancer researcher who came to the U.S in 1960 to pursue a doctorate in endocrinology at UC Berkeley where she met Donald Harris, a Jamaican who was studying economics. Her parents divorced when she was seven and her mother passed away in 2009. She has a sister, Maya Harris, who is also a political activist and has worked in the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

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