Rishi Sunak happens to be Hindu by faith, but this fact is unlikely to make him pro-India
With Rishi Sunak becoming the third Prime Minister in two months, there are great expectations from him, especially because he has the experience, as a former finance minister, to tackle the economic crisis that Britain faces. Just like his immediate predecessor, Liz Truss, he is a Thatcherite. “My values are Thatcherite. I believe in hard work, family and integrity. I am a Thatcherite, I am running as a Thatcherite and I will govern as a Thatcherite,” he wrote in a newspaper. But there is also a difference between him and his predecessor in this regard: while Truss’ adoption of Thatcherite principles was doctrinaire, Sunak believes in a pragmatic approach. Truss seemed impatient; she wanted to undertake Thatcherite reforms like tax cuts in a hasty fashion, without taking the fiscal situation into account. Since public finance is related to inflation and interest rates, her earlier announcements hit bond markets hard. But the blowback shook her; he had to remove her finance minister and dump the reforms. This, she believed, would “reassure the markets of our fiscal discipline,” but that didn’t happen. Her policy U-turn also made her political position untenable, leading to her exit. Right from the beginning, he has been critical of the imprudent decisions made by Truss. When the two leaders were fighting for the prime ministerial office a few months ago, Sunak had expressed his skepticism over Truss’ bold and audacious (which now look disastrous) plans. While Truss’ Thatcherism was filled with ideological enthusiasm, Sunak’s looks more grounded. Which is not surprising given his background as a banker and entrepreneur.
Rishi Sunak, who is the son-in-law of Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy, also happens to be the first British Asian and Hindu Prime Minister of the UK. The 42-year-old went to Winchester College and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University, according to a British Government website. He was also a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University (USA) where he studied for his MBA. Many Indians are feeling vicarious pleasure in Sunak’s ascension, though he never lived in India. The saffron brigade is jubilant that a Hindu now heads the top office in Britain that ruled India for over a couple of centuries. More excited deshbhakts are using the term ‘reverse colonialism,’ as if we have sort of righted a historical wrong. Serious Indians should trash such notions with the disdain that these deserve, for Sunak doesn’t appear any less British than his predecessors. He is a devout Hindu, and his Diwali photographs have gone viral, but his faith is unlikely to influence the course of Indo-British ties. There is nothing on record to suggest that he would do anything that would benefit India. And last, but not least, Sunak’s rise gives the lie to the theories Left-liberals keep spreading about racism in Western societies. Which non-Western nation would accept a white person as their head of government?