Gujarat village euphoric as daughter joins Obama team

November 13th, 2008 - 10:00 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaGabat (Gujarat), Nov 13 (IANS) There is a palpable sense of excitement in this Gujarat village after after Indian American Sonal Shah, an eminent economist who heads Google’s philanthropic arm, was appointed a member of the advisory board of US president-elect Barack Obama. Sonal hails from this village in Sabarkantha district, 90 km from Gujarat’s main city Ahmedabad.”(Tata car) Nano’s entry in Sanand could bring economic prosperity to the region. But Sonal being inducted by the US president-elect Barack Obama’s 15-member advisory group is far more significant to us and memorable indeed vis-à-vis Gabat village,” said Rajubhai, a resident who is presently working in Kheda district.

“We feel proud that our Gabat village has been put on the global map. It provides us intense satisfaction and brings glory to our village,” Rajubhai said, adding: “Our joy knew no bounds when news of Sonal’s inclusion in the advisory committee reached us.”

Sonal’s uncle Mukundbhai Shah, 60, who still resides in the village, observed: “Whenever my brother comes here, he always carries some soil from the village when he returns to the US. He is indeed proud of his Gabat village and can never resist doing that. It is this soil that Sonal represents.”

The euphoria over Sonal’s new responsibilities is akin to the adulation showered on Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams, whose ancestral village is in north Gujarat too. Both women hail from nearly similar middle class families with rural backgrounds.

Sunita had kindled an urge to reach the stars among youth when she visited her ancestral village Jhulasan, 40 km from Mehsana, along with her father Deepakbhai Pandya Nov 1 last year. Children still cherish autographs given by Sunita during her visit.

Social worker Reshmi Hada, who is working for the prevention of female foeticide in the region, says: “For me Sunita is not merely a glorified image; she is a source of inspiration.”

There are ongoing festivities here though Diwali has come and gone. “Right since the news of Sonal’s elevation to the advisory board of Obama came we have been experiencing new enthusiasm and excitement,” Hada said.

Gujarat Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas, who is from Sidhpur in north Gujarat, said: “Both women have become global celebrities and have made the nation proud.”

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