The ascent of Rishi Sunak, 42-year-old Indian-origin Tory leader to the position of British prime minister this year seems to have made many Indians happy. The majority of Indian newspapers’ front pages covered Sunak’s anticipated rise to the premiership. As India recently celebrated 75 years of independence from British colonial rule, many Indians expressed on social media that Sunak becoming prime minister this year would be even more significant.

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Sunak, a 42-year-old former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, or finance minister, is a practicing Hindu. He recently worshipped a cow, lit Diwali lamps at his Downing Street residence, and claims to love cricket, which is practically a religion in India. In August, Sunak began a campaign event in north London, attended primarily by British Indians, with traditional greetings. He also spoke in Hindi and stated that if elected Prime Minister, he would work to strengthen ties with India. Sunak took his oath as an MP on the Bhagvad Gita, a revered Hindu text. 

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Indians typically take great pride in those who have ancestors from the country of 1.4 billion people and achieve success abroad, such as US Vice President Kamala Harris, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. Further, the appointment of Sunak as prime minister has some Indians hoping for closer ties between Britain and India. 

Indian Media on Rishi Sunak’s rise as UK PM

India’s largest English daily, Times of India, reported that Rishi Sunak, a “proud Hindu,” is the new UK PM; the story used the word Hindu five times. Further, according to India Today, Sunak “got the top job in UK despite being Hindu, not because of it,” adding that he is “Hindu in 10 Downing Street.”

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Others made allusions to colonial times; “Sunak: Ex-India Company set to run Britain,” reported The Telegraph, making reference to the company that used mercenary forces to rule over large portions of India. An article titled “Another Diwali gift to the nation, Indian-origin Rishi to rule the whites” appeared in the Hindi-language newspaper Dainik Bhaskar.

People’s reaction

One Twitter user wrote, “East India Company ruled India. NOW Ex INDIA rules Britain. This is called Karma. RishiSunak makes India proud”

Another wrote, “Those who shy in India to say they are Hindu, Learn from RishiSunak to be a proud Hindu”

“Indeed a proud moment for India when India is celebrating Azadika ka Amrut Mahotsav 75 yrs of independence person of Indian origin born and brought up in Britain Shri Rushi Sunak is PM of Britan. What a coincidence Once upon a time India was ruled by British colonial rule for 150,” wrote the third Twitter user.

In the 1960s, Sunak’s family immigrated to Britain, which had ruled over India for roughly 200 years before the South Asian nation attained independence in 1947 following a protracted struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi.