BY NAN News Writer
News Americas, LONDON, England, Mon. 24, 2022: On Diwali 2022, many in the Indian diaspora have reacted with pride and stunned disbelief that Rishi Sunak, the UK’s former finance minister and grandson of Indians, who had failed just seven weeks ago to become Conservative Party leader and PM, was now set to become the prime minister of many firsts in Britain.
Sure, his parents were born in the East African countries of Kenya and Tanzania, respectively, to Indian parents who were born in Gujranwala in modern day Pakistan’s Punjab province. He was born in Britain, but he is being embraced as Indian to the core. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him a bridge between the two countries.
“As you become UK PM, I look forward to working closely together on global issues, and implementing Roadmap 2030,” Modi said, referring to a plan to boost trade and other ties between the countries.
Rishi Sunak leaves CCHQ on 24, October in London, England. Rishi Sunak was appointed as Conservative leader and the UK’s next Prime Minister after he was the only candidate to garner 100-plus votes from Conservative MPs in the contest for the top job. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
“First Kamala Harris, now Rishi Sunak The people of the U.S. and the U.K have embraced the non-majority citizens of their countries and elected them to high office in government. I think there is a lesson to learned by India and the parties that practice majoritarianism,” tweeted India Congress leader P Chidambaram.
“I think all of us will have to acknowledge that the Brits have done something very rare in the world, to place a member of a visible minority in the most powerful office,” Congress lawmaker and former U.N. diplomat, Shashi Tharoor, said on Twitter.
“A glass ceiling has been well and truly broken,” wrote journalist Rajdeep Sardesai. “Breaking: Rishi Sunak to be next British PM: a PM of Indian origin on Diwali day: a glass ceiling has been well and truly broken. Let’s celebrate diversity in Britain and yes, hopefully in India too!,” he wrote.
“Kudos to Rishi Sunak for showing the art of the possible, inspiring millions to shatter unthinkable glass ceilings in the process,” said Sanam Arora, National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK.
“Rishi Sunak took oath as an MP on (Hindu holy book) Bhagavad Gita. If he repeats the same for taking oath as prime minister, what a day it is for India, that too on our 75th year of independence from Britain,” Chennai resident D. Muthukrishnan wrote on Twitter.
Sunak will become a PM of many firsts:
1: He will be the first prime minister of color and of Asian descent in Britain, the former colonial master of India, the homeland of his grandparents. Sunak’s family migrated in the 1960s to Britain, which ruled India for about 200 years before the South Asian country gained independence in 1947 after a long struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi. His father, Yashvir, was born in Kenya and his mother, Usha, in Tanzania. Their parents were born in Punjab.
2: He will be the youngest prime minister ever at just 42. Sunak was born on May 12, 1980.
3: He is the first person of Indian descent and first Hindu who will occupy Number 10 as PM.
4: He will be the richest, richer even than the Royal Family. Sunak, a former banker, and his wife, Indian tech heiress Akshata Murty, have an estimated fortune of about 730 million pounds ($830 million),
5: He is the first former Goldman Sachs employee to become prime minister. He once worked as a junior analyst at Goldman Sachs in London and spent around three years at the bank.
6: He is known to celebrate the festival of lights. He has also been photographed in the past lighting candles outside No. 11 Downing Street – the finance minister’s official residence – to mark the occasion and has said his faith gives him strength and purpose and is part of who he is. Sunak last November unveiled a new £5 commemorative coin celebrating the life of Mahatma Gandhi to mark the festival of Diwali.
Sunak is poised to formally take over as prime minister later on Monday or Tuesday. He will be officially made the Prime Minister of the UK after meeting with King Charles III.