When the Collins Dictionary Word of the Year 2022 is “permacrisis” – an extended period of instability and insecurity – it is indicative of the level of upheaval that made up the year that is wrapping up this week. And, the standout diaspora development amid the crisis was Britain’s first Prime Minister of Indian heritage, Rishi Sunak, taking charge at 10 Downing Street in time for Diwali.
At 42, the British Indian leader is also the youngest in 200 years and has set the ball rolling on strengthening the UK’s relations with India – with a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 Summit in Indonesia, unveiling the UK-India Young Professionals Scheme and, of course, reviving the UK-India free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.
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The inclusion of the UK on the list of countries that are offered speedy e-visas for travellers was another key outcome of that all-important first Modi-Sunak bilateral meeting, confirmed by India’s new High Commissioner to the UK – Vikram Doraiswami, who also became the first Indian diplomat to present his credentials to King Charles III.
The new monarch ascended to the throne following a very personal loss in the passing away of his mother Queen Elizabeth II – Britain’s longest-serving monarch – on September 8.
“The Queen was like another grandmother (Dadi/Nani) like figure in my life. Just like a grandparent, she has remained a constant in my life over the past 34 years and has been visible as a guiding support during some of the most difficult life events including the pandemic and some of the happier events such as the 2012 Olympics,” reflected Councillor Pranav Bhanot, one of a handful of British Indian community champions invited to the Queen’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey in London.
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The New Year no doubt holds many challenges as the UK, and the world at large, copes with the ongoing climate crisis. As India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr S. Jaishankar, highlighted at the India Global Forum in UAE recently: “Combating climate change is also about delivering climate justice.”