Come September and we will know it whether he has made it or not . One, however, is sure to say that his name and campaign for the top executive post in Britain have created positive waves among various socio/political circles in that country – as indeed they have done so across the countries that matter in the world scene. The person under reference is our own Rishi Sunak, who is running head to head with Liz Truss, his competitor and erstwhile colleague in Boris Johnson’s cabinet, in the race to reach the 10 Downing Street London, official residence of the U.K Prime Minister. Rishi is as much our own as he himself takes pride in his Indian ancestry – it’s very ancient civilization and catholicity of the Hindu faith which he practices with devotion, and on occasions wears it on his sleeves. His lighting a Diwali lamp at the doorstep of British grand Treasury, when he headed it, illustrates the fact.
Rishi Sunak’s endorsement for the top job by a substantial section of the British society must have brought a rather triumphant smile on the face of many Indians, who are still smarting under the bad impressions of British as to how it,in it’s two hundred years rule, ” subjugated millions of Indians, disempowered them politically and impoverished them economically : exploited Indian resources and economy to boost their own fortunes.” Shashi Tharoor, MP and former Union minister, reminded the British about the miseries they inflicted on us Indians . During a debate at the Oxford Union , London, on 28th May,2015 he supported motion “Britain owes reparation to her former colonies ” and argued, with facts, how the English damaged Indian economy and enriched themselves as the result of exploitation of native resources and its deindustrialization. He told audience that Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India. Tharoor concluded by saying that British should pay India one Pound Sterling per annum for the next two centuries as symbolic reparation. For him and many of us it could be a matter of ‘sweet revenge.’
Rishi Sunak is a member of British Parliament from Richmond since 2015, elected on Conservative Party ticket. He has remained Chief Secretary of Treasury from 2019 – 20 and Chancellor of exchequer for 2020 -22. Presently he is a Prime Ministerial hopeful campaigning to take job of the outgoing PM, Boris Johnson.
Rishi’s campaign and substantial endorsement of the British people mean many things , especially to us the Indians from whose stock he has grown , and mark out quite number of points that one has to take note for reimagining a new world – free from narrow parochial and sectarian considerations. Primarily, it indicates that Britain has indeed travelled a long distance from the days when some European thinkers would dismiss Indians “simply as natives of an unknown country.”
True, Rishi’s endorsement is a matter of his personal pride but our share of delight can be no less. After all he has stemmed out of the Indian society which believes in ” Vasudeva Kutumbkum ” , regard for all faiths , universal brotherhood , communal harmony and, in contemporary political terms thanks to the founding fathers , is wedded to a democratic and secular form of governance : whose day to day life is guided by a holy book called Indian Constitution. It is a society which places faith in free speech and open debate – on matters both mundane and spiritual – vouches for world peace and shuns cross border violent campaigns . The English, in their unreserved endorsement of Sunak, are, indeed, reminding us of these virtues, which we sometimes tend to forget for very narrow political and sectarian considerations.
Many countries across the world have a lesson or two for us, though unintended. Americans have acknowledged Indian origin Kamala Harris’s credentials to make her 2nd In Command , not bothering for her caste, colour and ancestry ; and now British are emulating them to place their destiny in the hands of another Indian origin immigrant – of a different faith and race. While as we in India are yet to come to terms with the fact that a foreign borne Indian could head a political party, forgetting that when occasion arose – tragic at family level or high demanding political ones at the public platform -the person, in attire and demeanor, proved more Indian than many of the full blooded Indians .
Rishi Sunak may or may not make it to the UK PM post but his candidature with substantial approval for the top job in England ,coming at the time when Europe is increasingly looking inwards and England just having staged an exit from the EU, is a tribute to the county’s belief in multicultural living , non discrimination between a local and the immigrant and regard for the talent, unmindful of the faith and ethnicity. All – that is worth emulating.
We hope by now the stiff upper lipped Englishman has been made to understand that “Indians are the natives of a very known country.” Thank you Rishi for making us re -known.
(The author is Former Principal District & Sessions Judge)