Nikki Haley set to be sworn in as S Carolina Guv

Washington: Indian American Namrata `Nikki` Randhawa Haley, a daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab, is all set to be sworn in as the South Carolina Governor at a simple-but-impressive ceremony in Columbia despite heavy snowfall and forecasts of deteriorating weather.

A State of Emergency has been declared in South Carolina as many as nine inches of snow has dropped in parts of the state and more that 2,000 car crashes were reported today.

Because of the prevailing situation and massive power cuts, Haley postponed Tuesday night`s planned "Family Fun Night" for Saturday.

The inaugural ceremony, to be held on Wednesday morning (local time) would be attended by several Congressmen.

It would be the first major function in the State after the weekend`s assassination bid at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is in a critical condition at an Arizona hospital.

Haley would not only be the first non-white, but also the first woman governor of South Carolina.

Further, she would be only the second Indian American and the first Indian American woman to be sworn in as the governor of an American State. Republican Bobby Jindal, the current Governor of Louisiana, is the first Indian American to occupy the position.

Local police authorities said the security at the inauguration event would be tighter than usual.

Hundreds of people from all over the State including a number of Indian Americans from various parts of the country are scheduled to attend the inaugural to be held on the south side State House steps.

Local newspapers and television channels today showed pictures of the inaugural venue wherein the chairs were covered with snow, as the region was hit by a massive snowfall.

Authorities were working round the clock to clear the venue of the snow.

"Tomorrow everything is going on as planned… The church service will start early in the morning," said Inaugural Committee Co-Chair Katon Dawson.

The inauguration begins with a prayer service at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Downtown Columbia in the morning, followed by the State House ceremony at 11 am (local time).

Thereafter, they have a First Family Open House at the Governor`s Mansion. Finally, from 7:30 pm to 11 pm, an inaugural gala is scheduled.

When she enters the South Carolina Governor`s mansion, the 38-year-old politician would replace Jindal to be the youngest current governor in the United States.

"This is a new page for South Carolina, and we have a lot of families that want to get involved in that," Haley said.

In fact, she is seeking a cue from Jindal`s success story.

Last week, she appointed Tony Keck, a key aid of Jindal in Louisiana, to be the next director of the South Caroline Department of Health and Human Services.

"The Department of Transportation has done a marvellous job in South Carolina in my opinion of having the roads cleared. And we`re ready for a very historic moment in South Carolina history tomorrow," Dawson said.

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