Rishi Sunak’s rise as the Prime Minister of Britain amidst the country’s cut-throat politics is historic. Many have compared it to Barack Obama’s ascension in American politics, signifying the acceptability of a non-white immigrant as their leader by the British and American societies.
To know more about Sunak and the Indian diaspora, India Narrative speaks with Pranav Bhanot, Councillor at the Chigwell Parish Council, on the outskirts of British capital London.
Bhanot, who wears many hats, is a lawyer and editor of the books – The Living Bridge and Get Me Elected. His third book, The Rise of Rishi, which is about to be released, promises to give an insight into Sunak’s personal and unknown side.
Bhanot has been working for stronger India-UK ties post-Brexit and has been named as one of the top 100 most influential people in shaping UK and India relations. He is optimistic about Sunak’s rise and gives us a glimpse into how Sunak is likely to man0euvre the UK out of an economic crisis.
Excerpts from the interview:
IN: You are writing a book on Rishi Sunak. Can you tell us a bit about the book?
PB: The book, The Rise of Rishi, is a brief insight into his life and his ascent into taking on the top job in British politics and is almost done. It is currently available through pre-order and would be launched in a couple of weeks.
The book really tries to go into details about Rishi.
Rishi is relatively private as an individual and not many members of the British public knew about him in a way that they knew about the previous PMs–Boris Johnson or David Cameron. So we wanted to go into detail and highlight the relevance and impact of having a Prime Minister who is of Indian diaspora. That is what we are focusing on, and what implications this could have in the future and also the relationship between UK and India.
IN: How do you feel he will perform as the Prime Minister under the massive economic challenges the UK faces?
PB: Sunak has got this perception of being very much in control and being very responsible when it comes to the nation’s finances. This was very much a reputation he managed to instill during the pandemic as he came up with lots of very good initiatives. One of those was ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ which was a campaign to get people going out to restaurants after the lockdown had ended and it was something which he had come up with himself.
Obviously he has got very challenging months and years ahead of him. He has to grapple with the cost of living crisis, energy bills going up very highly as well as the war in Ukraine. But I think he will have the leadership to make difficult decisions but I think he also has the empathy to think about what the impact would be on some of the decisions he is making.
He will have to think about what he does in relation to taxation, in relation to increasing mortgage prices as well pensions but this is somebody who is dedicated to attention to detail.
He is a numbers guy. He is an analyst who has come into politics. If there is anybody who can do this its going to be him and he is very much seen as a safe pair of hands. I am sure he is not gonna get everything right but I think his intentions are definitely in the right place. We can only wish him the very best of luck from the diaspora in the UK.
IN: It is an oft-asked question but how does the Indian community feel about Sunak’s ascension to the top in British politics?
PB: I think the appointment of the new Prime Minister is a significant moment and probably one of those that define the immigration landscape of the Indian diaspora coming to the United Kingdom. Seeing Rishi as the first person of colour from the Indian diaspora becoming the PM of this country is testament to the hard work of people who moved from India and East Africa to the UK and created a home for themselves here. There is a huge amount of jubilation.
People are feeling very proud and it affirms something called “the British dream”. People are familiar with the American Dream, but the British dream is if you work hard then you can make it. Rishi Sunak is very much self-made, yes he has married in a family which has wealth, but he created a lot of wealth himself and he really does personify this ideal – the idea of aspiration, and what happens when enthusiasm and aspiration come together.
We are very happy with what has happened and we can hope he does the best he can during these difficult times.
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