Wednesday, December 7th, 2022 10:00:14

The Hindu PM

By Nilabh Krishna
Updated: October 29, 2022 4:01 pm

It is a pleasant coincidence that Rishi Sunak won the Conservative Party leadership election and, as a result, the position of prime minister on the most significant day of Diwali, the “festival of light” observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhists. The triumph of “light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance” is said to be celebrated during Diwali. Additionally, it is related to success and money. With a copy of the Bhagavad Gita in hand, Sunak took his oath of office as Chancellor of the Exchequer in February 2020. To mark the occasion, lights were strung up in front of his official house at Number 11 Downing Street.

The selection of Rishi Sunak as the new prime minister of the United Kingdom is a meteoric climb for the slick former hedge fund manager, who was born into an Indian Hindu family. He took the office at the age of 42, making him one of the youngest and wealthiest prime ministers in more than 200 years history of Britain. He maintains his Hindu identity, making him the first non-Christian to hold the top position in the UK. The timing of a victory provides even more reason to rejoice as millions of Hindus celebrate Diwali, the five-day festival of lights, around the world and particularly in India. His becoming prime minister this year is even more special as India recently celebrated 75 years of its independence from British colonial rule. “This [Diwali] is very special for India’s magnificent cricket victory and, Sunak, a person of Indian origin, a practising Hindu and Narayana Murty’s son-in-law, becoming prime minister of UK,” Dr.Vivek Singh, Assistant professor, Delhi University wrote on Twitter, referring to the founder of Indian software giant Infosys Ltd.

Know Rishi Sunak

He was born in 1980 in Southampton, the son of parents of Punjabi descent. Sunak’s father was a family doctor and his mother ran a pharmacy, where he helped her with the books. After private schooling at Winchester College, where he was head boy, and a degree in philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford, he took an MBA at Stanford University in California where he met his wife, AkshataMurty, the daughter of India’s sixth-richest man. A successful business career, with spells at Goldman Sachs and as a hedge fund manager, meant by the time he decided to enter politics in his early 30s, he was already independently wealthy. In 2014 he was selected as the Tory candidate for the ultra-safe seat of Richmond in North Yorkshire — then held by William (now Lord) Hague — and was elected in the general election the following year.

In the 2016 Brexit referendum he supported Leave, to the dismay of the then PM David Cameron who saw impressed with his ideas and considered him as one of the Conservatives’ brightest prospects among the new intake. His rise through Parliament was swift. He became chief secretary to the treasury — replacing the promoted Liz Truss, “the Paltu Kumar” of Britain — and when the then Chancellor of Exchequer SajidJavid resigned in early 2020, was appointed chancellor.

As Chancellor he was faced with the most challenging financial crisis of his generation when the Covidpandemic  hit only a few weeks later.His furlough scheme and deft handling of the economy won many plaudits. But his economic views fell afoul of the then PM Boris Johnson, ultimately leading to his resignation.

The pound is in freefall, the Queen has passed away, the new King appears disinterested, and Brexit has become a dinner-table joke in UK. The now-reversed tax policy of Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss included a number of unfunded tax cuts and would have cost the UK economy $48 billion in taxes. Given the options, Sunak, the former finance minister, has assumed leadership since he appears to be the most qualified candidate.

He is the first Hindu and first person of colour to serve as prime minister of the United Kingdom. Hindus all across the world, but particularly in India, which has a majority of them and is currently ruled by Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, are celebrating that. Social media users are posting pictures of Sunak dressed in religious clothing and commenting them with Hindu devotional phrases.

What this means?

It is crucial to state right away that nobody knows for sure whether Rishi Sunak, who is of Indian descent, would ultimately be a friend or an enemy of India. One would have to be exceedingly foolish to think that just because Sunak is a leader of Indian descent and a devoted Hindu, he will make judgments that are advantageous to India. As the Prime Minister of his country, Sunak, a British citizen born in the UK, will make choices that are in the best interests of his people, his politics, and his party; India would be at most a diplomatic friend, as it was even before Sunak was elected.

Regardless of whether Sunak ends up supporting India or not, every political group in India is using Rishi Sunak’s elevation to discuss the problems that are important to them. The Hindus are currently only celebrating because a person who has openly expressed his Hindu faith in the past by participating in Gau Puja and other ceremonies is taking office as the head of a Western nation. This joy is reasonable given the attacks that Hindus have faced on a global scale. It’s vital to keep in mind that Islamists attacked Hindus in Leicester, London just a few days ago. But given the ongoing persecution, a proud Hindu being the prime minister of the UK is crucial for Hindus in terms of the overall story.

However, the Leftists and Liberals in India are humming a melody that is illogical and weird. The usual suspects have begun discussing the tolerance lesson that India has to learn from the UK, except from the fact that they began by mocking his Gau Puja and asserting that he was “Too Hindu” to stating he was not Hindu at all by disseminating false information about him being a beef-eater.

In fact a new debate is being ushered in by these pseudo intellectiuuals of the country. While celebrating Sunak’s achievement these people also cast doubt though on whether an ethnic or religious minority could have the same trajectory in India amid allegations of Discrimination and attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims, have increased since PM Modi took office.

“The Brits have done something very rare in the world, to place a member of a visible minority in the most powerful office,” tweeted Shashi Tharoor,a Congress leader.And he went on: “As we Indians celebrate the ascent of @RishiSunak, let’s honestly ask: can it happen here?” But, Nupur J Sharma, dissects this whole tropein her piece in Opindia,com and gives a befitting reply to all those carrying this agenda. She says “Be that as it may, it is important to dissect this trope that is being furthered not just by The Wire and Arfa, but by several other of her co-religionists and co-ideologists.

Firstly, it is important to clarify that Rishi Sunak was not ‘elected’ per se. He was chosen by Tory MPs to lead the party and therefore become the PM of the UK. Therefore, the trope about how Hindus need to ‘elect’ a Muslim PM like the UK elected a Hindu PM is patently false. Further, several Muslims have served in high offices in India – APJ Abdul Kalam being one of the foremost examples of a Muslim leader who was adored by Indians beyond his religious identity. Other examples are the Kerala governor, Arif Mohammad Khan, who is also respected by Indians across religious lines. Interestingly, the Muslim leaders who are revered beyond their religious identity are also the ones who are vilified by the Muslim community as a whole.”

She further says “Beyond the “kind of Muslim” that the Islamists want Hindus to accept, the trope comparing the elevation of Rishi Sunak to Hindus choosing a Muslim leader is itself flawed. Firstly, let us be clear – the UK is accepting of an Indian-origin man as their leader. Indians have never subjugated the Brits – in fact, it was the other way around. Therefore comparing it to Hindus choosing a Muslim as their leader is incomparable to the situation in the UK. Historically, Hindus have been victims of violence at the hands of the Muslim community, violence that continues to date. India herself was partitioned on religious lines with Muslims at the time claiming that Muslims were a nation unto themselves and are incapable of sharing their national identity with Kafirs. The two situations are not comparable. There are historical nuances that must be evaluated honestly if we assume a mistrust exists – a premise that people like Arfa want us to believe, even though Hindus have, despite their own subjugation, been accepting of Muslim leaders who have given them respect and worked for the nation.”

Rishi Sunak will be beneficial for Indians, and particularly Hindus, is in the hands of future and time will tell what he is capable of, but for now lets celebrate his Hindu credentials and the fact that an Indian is now ruling the great Britain, which once colonized and looted India.

Indian-origin leader Rishi Sunak became the first Hindu to be appointed as the UK Prime Minister. The Conservative Party leader once again proudly displayed his religious roots as he sported the sacred Hindu ‘Kalawa’ thread during his first address after taking charge as the UK PM. At 10 Downing Street, 42-year-old Rishi Sunak was seen wearing the sacred red thread as he waved at his supporters.

Here are some other times Rishi Sunak flaunted his Hindu roots:

• Rishi Sunak has always embraced his Indian and Hindu heritage. After the 2017 general elections, Sunak took his oath of allegiance as a lawmaker on the Hindu holy book Bhagavad Gita.

• Rishi Sunak also proudly proclaimed his Hindu identity when he said, “I am now a citizen of Britain. But my religion is Hindu. My religious and cultural heritage is Indian. I proudly say that I am a Hindu and my identity is also a Hindu.”

• In August this year, Rishi Sunak visited a temple with his wife, Akshata, on Janmashtami. Rishi Sunak also posted about his visit on Instagram.

• The Hindu MP also won praise from Indians living in the UK when he performed Gau puja with his wife in London. The couple were seen worshipping a cow and performing an Aarti.

• Rishi Sunak also regularly visits the temple in Hampshire. As per a report by The Independent, the Vedic Society Hindu Temple in Southampton was established by Rishi Sunak’s grandfather, Ramdas Sunak, in 1971, with his father, Yash, continuing his connection as a trustee during the 1980s.

By Nilabh Krishna

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