Why British Indians feel more than Ready4Rishi

Why British Indians feel more than Ready4Rishi
Courtesy: Anthony Devlin / Stringer | Getty Images News Via Getty Images

With just days before the polls close this week (September 2), most British Indian Conservative Party members have now cast their postal and online ballots.

iGlobal digs deeper into their choice, which almost overwhelmingly favours one of their own — Rishi Sunak, the UK-born former Chancellor running to make history as the first British Prime Minister of Indian heritage.

Beyond the empathetic emotions and pride, what are the motivating factors behind this support for the Ready4Rishi campaign? And, what are the expectations the diaspora harbours from Sunak at 10 Downing Street?

A stronger Living Bridge

Manu Khajuria of Friends of India Society International (FISI) UK is among those who firmly believe a positive impact on the already strong UK-India relationship.

"Under Rishi Sunak's leadership, the historical India-UK ties are bound to grow stronger. One of the largest democracies with a fast-growing economy, India is the right trade partner for the UK, and it's in the interests of both countries to have a strong relationship," she reflects.

Ravi Kumar, spokesperson for British Hindu network Insight UK, notes: “With Rishi Sunak as a Prime Minister, the free trade agreement (FTA) and UK-India partnership, which are already in the works, can be expected to get stronger.

"Also, I think Rishi appeals to Indians because British Indians see themselves in him and his success. People see meritocracy at play; in a society governed by people selected by merit resonates strongly with Indians. Because many Indians are hardworking, they came to this country themselves with very little from India or Africa. They see that in Rishi and his family, his values. And how quickly he has risen from MP to Chancellor and then even won all the leadership rounds against his colleagues."

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Multi-faceted outlook

For some British Hindus, there is also an added aspect at play.

"A tolerant and flexible race, Hindus are never known for being demanding. Over issues where other minority ethnic groups make a major hue and cry, we Indians tend to let it slide, considering others' comfort before ours. Here's hoping that an Indian-origin PM will understand our unspoken needs," says Rupali Kamble Paul, Councillor candidate of Priory Ward, Manchester.

Having said that, the mum of two also observes that Sunak's background should not be the only deciding factor.

"He has a very pragmatic idea about the economic situation because of his educational background. Also, I feel he's very dependable. He's never going to shy away from telling you the unpleasant truth. And truth always enables people to make informed choices. And that's why I've voted for him."

Further, she highlights the increasing threat of grooming gangs in the country, something Sunak has spoken candidly about and she is confident that as PM he would tackle such issues that would have a wide-ranging impact across the board.

Women-centric social movement group Hindu Naree say they firmly believe in 10-step plan to bring economic order back to Britain and to bring inflation under control.

"Our heartfelt and steadfast prayers are our conversations with our Hindu gods to bless Rishi Sunak MP to succeed to become the first ever Hindu Prime Minister of Britain," the spokesperson of Hindu Naree stated.

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Inspiring leadership

Dr Kaushik Chakraborty, Conservative Party member and Councillor candidate of Trafford ward, Manchester, believes the former finance minister is a true inspiration and role model.

He told iGlobal: "Rishi Sunak has set an example of how it should be done. For example, the furlough scheme and the loan grant scheme were essential at that point. And it was well thought of and very well received, which saved many jobs and families during the pandemic.

"His role has been very inspirational to the Indian diaspora. He has set an example of positive engagement in the community. I think many from our diaspora will now actively engage in UK politics."

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Ethnicity a barrier?

Meanwhile, recent research published by the British Future think tank shows Britain is increasingly at ease with its diversity. Around three-quarters of Britons now feel that British society's diversity is a part of British culture rather than a threat to it – a significant shift from 2011 when more than half the public said that having a variety of backgrounds and cultures undermined British culture.

"Ethnic diversity has become a new norm in British politics, on both left and right.

The vast majority (84 per cent) of the public would not have any problem with an ethnic minority PM. Six out of ten say that the ethnicity of the Prime Minister shouldn't matter — as, of course, it should not," reports British Future’s Jubilee Britain report, based on research on public opinion in the UK.

As Khajuria pointed out: "Rishi Sunak's ethnicity only highlights the British value system, which places premium on diversity and inclusivity. It is a credit to the British society in general and especially the political space."

So, whatever the outcome on September 5, Sunak has charted an inspiring track for the over 1.5-million-strong Indian diaspora living bridge in the UK.

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