It is said that what you focus on, increases, so focus on the positive. Let me then balance my critique of Mihir Bose’s article penned earlier today with a positive appraisal of our new PM, Rishi Sunak.
My hope is that Mr Sunak, at just 42 years of age the youngest PM in British modern history, and the first citizen of colour to hold the country’s top job, will have a long and successful career as PM, that he will administer well and fairly and win the hearts and minds of the British public. I hope, too, that the nation’s memories of Rishi Sunak in the far distant future will be warm, appreciative, and respectful.
Mr Sunak has been the chancellor of the exchequer since 2019, and at the time it was enjoyable to know that it was an Indian-ethnicity person, Chancellor Sunak, who acted quickly and smartly to keep the country afloat throughout the covid-19 pandemic via his “furlough scheme” of financial support for businesses and individuals.
However, I became properly aware of Rishi Sunak just a few months ago, when he threw his hat into the ring to become leader of the Conservative party. As he ran the gauntlet of public debates and television interviews, we all for the first time heard Rishi Sunak’s unique voice and felt his honest passion for service.
Rishi Sunak’s extraordinary intelligence and trustworthy character shine brightly. It warms my heart that his father is a GP, because mine was. And it impresses me that he is a self-made man. Not born into wealth, Rishi Sunak made the most of the superb education his parents worked hard to provide him. Using his education-sharpened, innate intelligence, Rishi Sunak, both, made his fortune and served others as the MP (Member of Parliament) for the beautiful traditional market town and farming district of Richmond in North Yorkshire.
A documentary video about Rishi made by former Tory leader William Hague documented the feelings of Richmond constituents who, in 2014, witnessed Rishi Sunak’s appearance in their midst as potential leader of their constituency. Competing against seven other candidates, including incumbent William Hague, all were white, at least one was from the Army, and the others were locally known. But it was Rishi, the outsider, who Richmond voted for. They have voted for him ever since.
“They said he walked into the room and you felt the whole place lift,” recounted one; “He took the place by storm,” said another; “When he spoke you could just tell you were listening to someone very very special,” said yet another.
Rishi’s private wealth, earned through a regular career in finance, has unfairly been the subject of demonisation and debate.
Starting out as an analyst at Goldman Sachs, he later took senior roles at two hedge funds and became a director of investment firm Catamaran Ventures, founded by his father-in-law, Indian businessman Mr N.R. Narayana Murthy. Shares in Mr Murthy’s company, Infosys, contribute greatly to Mr Sunak’s wealth.
Despite his wealth, Rishi does not come across as a hard-nosed ‘only about the money’ kind of guy. Typically Hindu sentiments like ‘compassionate government’, ‘professionalism’ and ‘work hard for you day and night’, come naturally to him. And he is touchingly and quite unsurprisingly proud of the family he married into.
Like him, the Murthys are a self-made success and not the latest in line of a wealthy dynasty. Notably, it was the wife of Mr Murthy, Infosys chairman Sudha Murthy, who was the company’s first investor. Without the support of Sudha’s personal savings at the beginning, this more than one hundred billion dollar company may not exist today.
Rishi Sunak is indeed “very very special”. Indians, a diverse group, identify with him as one of their own sons, and are naturally proud of him. We feel personally inspired by his example, but, non-Indians like him too. He is roundly appreciated for his smarts, his energetic, positive approach, and his pure likeability.
But, Rishi Sunak is special not only for his intellect and heart. He’s special because he’s flown high as a person, he’s somehow reached a level above the smaller identities of nationality, ethnicity, skin colour, and social status. He has risen to the stature of a potential statesman. It is this capacity that unifies a diverse and demanding nation behind him, and which, when he took the helm at No. 10, soothed the world’s fretting financial markets into balance.
Let us, then, hope, pray, and visualise that Mr Sunak’s success continues, and that nothing, not even the media, will scuttle his already exemplary achievements.