PM Rishi Sunak: Once Considered Labors Now Leaders

“Critics are loud, but success is louder.”

Being able to witness Rishi Sunak being the first British Indian Prime Minister in history is amazing.

On Monday, October 24th, 2022, Indian diaspora leaders and organizations in the UK went into overdrive, celebrating Rishi Sunak’s victory in the Conservative Party leadership race to become Prime Minister-elect as a landmark and inspirational development on the remarkable day of Diwali.

During his last campaign, the 42-year-old former Cabinet minister, who famously lit diyas on the steps of 11 Downing Street during his tenure as chancellor, stated that he wants to change the India-UK relationship to make it a more two-way exchange that allows easy access to UK students and businesses in India.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Britain’s next Prime Minister Rishi Sunak by saying, “Warmest congratulations @RishiSunak! As you become UK PM.

I look forward to working closely together on global issues, and implementing Roadmap 2030. Special Diwali wishes to the ‘living bridge’ of UK Indians, as we transform our historic ties into a modern partnership.”

Now, elected Tory leader amid considerable economic turmoil and just as a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with India missed its Diwali deadline, there is renewed hope that Sunak would inject momentum behind closer ties with the country of origin.

It is incredible to be able to watch this historic moment with Rishi Sunak becoming the first British Indian Prime Minister, said British Indian think tank 1928 Institute.

Many of our grandparents were British subjects and now to see someone of Indian heritage in the UK’s highest office is truly inspirational. Mr Sunak’s rise shows how the British Indian community has come a long way, and we hope this serves as an inspiration for the next generation, it said.

With the British Indian community made up of an estimated 1.7 million people, it comprises around 2.5 per cent of the total population and therefore a British Prime Minister of Indian heritage was not expected anytime soon, feels Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, Senior Fellow for South Asia at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

The prospective FTA is likely to be revived and completed in earnest as a result of the economic stability that Rishi Sunak is expected to bring to the UK, said Roy-Chaudhury.

But, Rishi Sunak is yet to be tested on foreign policy and defense issues who he appoints as the next Defense and Foreign Secretaries will be critical in building a strong defense and security partnership, the next stage of a truly comprehensive strategic partnership with India, the strategic expert notes.

The excitement of a Sunak victory resonated among Indian student groups as well, who are hopeful that his premiership would involve championing the skills and knowledge exchange critical to the growth of both countries and not bow down to the noise on immigration from the far right.

If there is one thing we know about Rishi Sunak is that he’s a man of logic and reason.

Through the summer we saw his refusal to bow down to populism in favor of rationality, said Sanam Arora, Chair of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) the UK, with reference to Liz Truss’ populist and now-failed tax-cutting promises in the last leadership contest.

When it comes to the India-UK partnership, where the exchange of skills is essential, I anticipate that Rishi will be motivated by the same logic.

Recognizing the absurd situation of classifying international students as migrants, we call on him to be the PM who changes this, a move that can be transformative for the British economy and higher education sector.

I’m incredibly proud of where I come from. It will always be an enormous part of who I am. It brings me joy to live, and belong, in a country where, for all our faults, for all our challenges, someone like me can become Chancellor.

Our task now is to make sure that’s not the end of the British Indian story, but the beginning, he said.

That statement proved prophetic this week, when Sunak’s children are poised to light diyas on the steps of No. 10 Downing Street soon.

The Opposition party’s Diaspora group, Labor Convention of Indian Organizations (LCIO), also welcomed the sheer symbolism of Sunak’s win, even as it reiterated Labor’s call for a general election.