Gita Gopinath, deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has dubbed this year’s Diwali as special with the United Kingdom getting its first Prime Minister of Indian origin on the day.
“It’s a special Diwali this year as the UK has its first Prime Minister of Indian origin. Congratulations,” tweeted Gopinath, who was born and brought up in India.
Sunak, 42, won the Conservative Party leadership contest on Sunday, getting the support of over half of his party’s MPs after the resignation of his predecessor Liz Truss.
Sunak’s ascension to the UK top office marks a turning point in the political consciousness of the former Imperialist nation, which until the 19th century saw its “burden” to rule non-white nations of the world.
Other than his religion and ancestry, Sunak does not share much with India. He was born in Southhampton, UK, to Hindu Punjabi parents, who migrated to the UK from Eastern Africa. Sunak’s parents Yashvir and Usha were born in Kenya and Tanzania respectively.
The youngest and the richest British PM ever got his education at Winchester College, studied philosophy, politics and economics at Lincoln College, Oxford, and earned an MBA from Stanford University in the United States. After graduating from Stanford, Sunak worked for Goldman Sachs and later as a partner for hedge funds: Children’s Investment Fund Management and Theleme Partners.
He was elected to the House of Commons for Richmond at the 2015 general election. An active Brexit supporter, Sunak joined Theresa May’s government as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Local Government in 2018. He supported Boris Johnson’s candidature for leadership of the Conservative party and was appointed to the by former PM as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Sunak replaced Sajid Javid as the Chancellor of the Exchequer after Javid’s resignation amid a Cabinet reshuffle in 2020.
Ben Judah, a British journalist and commentator, writing for the Tatler, profiled the British PM thus “Rishi has always been the golden loyalist, the good soldier smoothly ascending through the ranks of British life”.
Sunak is married to fashion designer Akshata Murty, the daughter of Sudha Murthy and Narayan Murthy, the billionaire co-founder of software giant Infosys.
Sunak’s previous candidature for Conservative party leadership was marred by a controversy over the non-domiciled tax status of his wife. The non-domiciled status implied that Akshata was exempt from paying taxes in the UK on her foreign earnings in exchange for an annual levy of £30,000. Akshata earned Rs 126.61 crore (USD 15.3 million) in dividend income in 2022, from her shareholding in India’s second-largest IT firm Infosys. She held 3.89 crore shares, or 0.93 per cent, of Infosys at the end of September, according to company filings with the stock exchanges. Her holding is worth Rs 5,956 crore (about USD 721 million) at Tuesday’s trading price of Rs 1,527.40 on the BSE