While Kamala Harris’ ties to India are clear, being the daughter of an Indian immigrant mother, there appears to be a connection to the country for the president-elect Joe Biden as well.
According to several Nov. 9 reports, when Biden was elected as one of the youngest U.S. senators in 1972, one of the first letters that he received was from Mumbai—the sender having the same last name as his.
A PTI report in July had also given similar details.
And about five years ago, Biden learned that there were five Bidens living in Mumbai. But to date, he is yet to make a connection with them, the reports note.
In 1972, a ‘Biden from Mumbai’ had congratulated Biden on his election and told him that they were related to each other.
Though there was no independent source to confirm it, two siblings of Biden's great-great grandfather George Biden, Christopher Biden and William Henry Biden, served as captains in the East India Company, says a foreign policy think tank in Mumbai, Gateway House, reports said.
According to reports, Christopher was married to Harriott Fereeth and the couple had a son and two daughters, one of whom died on a voyage back to India and was buried at sea.
Christopher lived for 19 years in the southern Indian city of Madras, now Chennai, and died there. His tomb and memorial tablet lie in the Madras Cathedral containing a portrait of him with his pet dog, the reports said.
The Chennai Museum's list of inscriptions on tombs and monuments in Madras Volume I mentions that "Christopher Biden was committed to his charge and fell by the hands of a band of fanatics on the eleventh of September."
Biden, then 29, wanted to follow up on the letter and get in touch with the sender. However, his family and active life in politics meant that this wish remained a wish, something he still wants to fulfil nearly five decades later, the report added.
The wish may have remained unfulfilled, but the 77-year-old never misses a chance to narrate the ‘Biden from Mumbai’ story when he meets Indian Americans and Indian leaders. He assures them that he too has an India connection, however distant it might be, the reports added.
Biden’s Mumbai connection was narrated by himself during a visit to the city in 2013. In an address to the Bombay Stock Exchange in July 2013, the then vice president went off-script to narrate the ‘Biden from Mumbai’ story.
“It’s an honor to be back in India and to be here in Mumbai. Off-script for a second here, I was reminded—I was elected to the U.S. Senate when I was a 29-year-old kid back in 1972, and one of the first letters I received, and I regret I never followed up on it,” Biden said at the time.
“Maybe, some genealogist in the audience can follow up for me, but I received a letter from a gentleman named Biden—Biden, my name—from Mumbai, asserting that we were related," he said.
“Seriously. Suggesting that our mutual, great, great, great something or other worked for the East India Trading Company back in the 1700s and came to Mumbai," Biden had then said in his speech, according to the reports.
“And so I was thinking about it, if that’s true, I might run here in India for office. I might be qualified (to run for elected office in India). But I’ve never followed up on it (the letter from Biden from Mumbai)," Biden had told the audience at the time, the reports added.
In 2015, during another speech in Washington, Biden recalled his India connection again. Biden said that a day after his Mumbai speech, a journalist gave him a list of five Bidens living in Mumbai, it said.
“The next day the press, I guess trying to prove that I was probably making this up—because I never followed up. It was right after I got elected, and then some things happened in my family, and I never followed up. One reporter stood up and gave me the names of five Bidens in Mumbai," he added. “So, show me more respect," Biden told the Washington audience while underlining his Indian connect, it said.