U.K’s 1st Indian Prime minister


Thomas Owens, Staff

“Indian son rises over the empire,” read the banner on New Delhi Television in the late afternoon on Monday, October 24. It was 2 pm in the United Kingdom and the appointment of Rishi Sunak, the son of Indian immigrants, as prime minister was becoming a reality. The face of the Conservative Party leader was plastered on all the major news sites. Social media was flooded with congratulatory messages, while, coincidentally, Indians were celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of light that marks the victory of good over evil. 

After two centuries of colonial oppression, many saw it as a symbol of a just turn-around of history. “Today, as India celebrates Diwali in its 75th year as an independent nation, the UK has a prime minister of Indian origin. History has come full circle,” said Raghav Chadha, a member of the upper house of the Indian Parliament, reflecting the views of many of his compatriots.  

Officially appointed prime minister on Tuesday, October 25, by King Charles III, Rishi Sunak is the first descendant of Indians and the first Hindu to become UK prime minister. In Parliament, he took an oath on the Bhagavad-Gita, one of the fundamental texts of Hinduism. “I am thoroughly British, this is my home and my country, but my religious and cultural heritage is Indian,” Sunak has said in the past. The 42-year-old Briton, born in Southampton, England, traces his Indian roots to his grandparents. Originally from Punjab, they migrated to East Africa in the late 1930s, before the partition of the subcontinent between India and Pakistan in 1947. Mr. Sunak’s parents then moved to the UK in the 1960s. Although Sunak has made very few statements on his vision for Britain’s relations with Asia, analysts expect the new prime minister to continue to promote his country’s engagement with the region in line with the U.K’s “Indo-Pacific tilt” — an ambitious plan for the U.K. to become “the European partner with the broadest and most integrated presence” in Asia. 

At the top of his agenda will be economic and security interests. 

Sunak, a former Goldman Sachs analyst, “will expect greater value for money when it comes to defense commitments, especially in Asia,” said Jamie Gaskarth, a professor of international relations at Britain’s Open University. In Britian’s post Brexit state it is rather tough to say what exactly can happen within the empire but, much of it is expected to be that of open cordial relations and economic stability.