As Liz Truss, probably the most incompetent British Prime Minster ever, resigned on October 20, having completed only 44 days in the hot seat, making her the shortest serving PM of Britain, Indian origin Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, took over as PM. He became Britain’s third PM in seven weeks.
Big talk has been around about Sunak and his India connection, and that seems a lot of bunkum. The only sure thing Indian about this is Sunak’s wife Akshata Narayan Murthy, a Britain-based Indian heiress, businesswoman, fashion designer and venture capitalist, also the daughter of Infosys founder Narayana Murthy. More importantly, adding to Sunak’s own riches – he was a banker and did pretty well for himself – was Akshata’s huge inheritance. Together, the Sunak-Murthy family is worth more than $ 800 million, somewhat more than the net worth of the British Royal family, it is said.
That was where the jokes started. When Sunak paid his courtesy visit to King Charles III, the joke was: “Would King Charles be asking Sunak for some money?” Just a joke, but it resonated well. More importantly, people believe that Sunak has a mney head on his shoulders and should be able to steer Britain out of this huge financial mess.
Possibly, though Sunak’s very party, which supported Brexit to the core, had itself never presented him as a serious candidate. The only time Sunak won a popular vote was in 2015 when he became a Member of Parliament for Richmond (Yorks). He has become PM by virtue of what we, in India, call delegate votes. That is how British PMs are always elected. He managed over 100 MPs to support him, and the rest fell by the wayside.
Remember, Sunak, is also now the leader of the Conservative Party, therefore has to weather criticism from the Opposition, especially Labour.
The prime ministership may be just another feather in Sunak’s glittering gold cap, but this will be a hard and thorny crown to wear. The country is teetering on the brink of a possible default and Truss’ finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng’s obtuse decision to cut taxes (even of the super rich) had gone down badly. The decision was overturned in a matter of days by Truss’ next finance minister Jeremy Hunt, but the hangover of that bad decision stays.
As for his nationality, well, neither his father, or grandfather had been from this subcontinent. Well, yes, when the subcontinent had not been divided by the same Brits he serves now. Otherwise, we might even look at Sunak as some of Pakistani origin. Or may be Tanzanian, or Kenyan.
Fgoing back in nationality of origin sounds pretty funny., By that logic, US President Barak Obama was part Kenyan.
Yes, Sunak is a Hindu, a practising Hindu. He even bows to cows, as an act he has made public.
And when people talk about his possible India bias, they are talking through thier hats. Rishi Sunak is expected to design and implement policies that are biased towards Britain. Sunak is as British as any other Brit.
Rishi will have to, however, tread cautiously on the race divide line. The Conservatives have had an atrocious race-creed record, ordering Rwandans back during Covid. Rishi Sunak should not be seen supporting such flawed policies in his Prime Minstership.
As for India, The two countries are waiting for a great Free Trade Agreement, on the blackboard for a while. This FTA could be the cornerstone of all future India-UK relations, especially in these times when the world economy is racing towards a recession.
Now that the country has got rid of an incompetent PM a lot depends on Sunak to deliver. As for India, the country does need an FTA that will boost exports and bolster tech knowhow. If that can be achieved in a balancing act, nothing could be better.
Importantly, with the British National Health Scheme in tatters, India could help out with its great experience in moderately priced treatment. This could lead to a unique situation where the NHS uses India produced generic drugs. This could be a win-win for both countries and could generate immense business and goodwill.
Also important will be the presence of several top Indian companies in t he UK. Tata Steel, as well Jaguar land Rover have been crying for government support to tide of the bad times the pandemic brought. If this is allowed then a great number of jobs in UK could be saved. Exports from UK could rise.
Whatever the situation, a big way of getting out of a recession is government spending. The recession that is near is a bit strange, because in the US is has not led to job cuts. In fact there are a large number of jobs on the market, waiting to be filled.
Whatever the situation, India and the UK have a lot to share and money to make. If Sunak can be lobbied to look away from the Chinese, that could be a great deal.
As of now, The Sunak magic has not be seen. It has to come sooner rather than later.