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Kamala Harris talks of her ‘chithis’, sends Twitter and world’s 120 million Tamils into a tizzy



Our Special Correspondent


Kamala Devi Harris scripted history on Wednesday as she became the first Indian-American and also the first woman of colour to accept the nomination for vice-president from a major political party in the US.

Harris, 55, was nominated as the vice-presidential candidate on Wednesday at the virtual Democratic National Convention.

In her acceptance speech, Harris profoundly remembered her mother Shyamala Gopalan from Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Harris said her mother raised her and her sister Maya “to be proud, strong Black women. And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage. She taught us to put family first— the family you’re born into and the family you choose.”

In reference to her Indian heritage, Harris used a Tamil expression in speaking of “my uncles, my aunts — my chithis.”

“Chithi” means aunt in Tamil and Kamala Harris using the word during her speech came as a pleasant surprise for many in India and the US.

The word “Chithi” set the desi Twitter abuzz as many people pointed out that this was the first time that a Tamil word was spoken at such a convention.

For the 120 million people in the world who speak Tamil, more so those in Tamil Nadu, it was an emotional moment. The speech soon went viral on social media even as the search for the word “chithi” spiked on Google. Tamil is 5,000 years old. It is one of the world’s oldest languages along with Sanskrit, Chinese, Egyptian and Lithuanian.

Harris opened her vice-presidential acceptance speech on Wednesday night at the virtual Democratic National Convention by remembering her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, lamenting the fact that she could not be there to see her daughter’s achievement.

“My mother taught me that service to others gives life purpose and meaning. And oh, how I wish she were here tonight but I know she’s looking down on me from above,” she said.

Harris’ mother, who hailed from Chennai, studied at the Lady Irwin College here, and went to the University of Berkeley in the US on a scholarship at age 19 to specialise in breast cancer. She died of cancer in 2009.

Her father Donald Jasper Harris, a Stanford professor, was from Jamaica. They had met at Berkeley and got married, and divorced in 1971. Shyamala raised the two girls as a single mother.

My mother instilled in my sister, Maya, and me the values that would chart the course of our lives.She taught us…

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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’



By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners



By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered



A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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