India has a lesson from Rishi Sunak's premiershiptext_fields
Rishi Sunak, a man with roots in pre-partition India, has become the Prime Minister of Britain. In a land steeped in imperialist occupation, colonial values, and racial supremacy, it is rare for a non-white, non-Christian, or non-Jewish person to reach the topmost position. Therefore, great historical significance is attached to a brown-skinned Hindu coming to power in the UK. Sunak's rise to power has been described as Britain's 'Obama moment'. At a time when the radical right is gaining strength in Europe and America, it is encouraging as well as gratifying to see that people of other races and identity are making their way into the crucial hierarchies. Despite the fact that most of them are validators of political and social supremacy as well as severe critics of pluralistic politics, their colour and cultural roots also question the reactionary politics they espouse. That is why those who severely criticise Rishi Sunak's political representation are also describing as historic his appointment as Prime Minister.
Rishi Sunak has taken up the daunting task of restoring Britain to its former glory when the country is mired in political instability and economic inequality. There is a division within the Conservative Party itself as to whether he will succeed in the complex task. The winds of economic recession blowing in Europe have begun to shake Britain. The country is facing its worst inflation in four decades. The economic reforms that former PM Liz Truss tried to implement have plunged the country further into trouble. The social and economic instability and energy crisis created by the Ukraine war have exacerbated the problem. Rising prices, burgeoning debt, mortgage defaults, rate hikes, and regional inequality are all acute in the UK. It has left millions of people helpless. Unless policy changes are made urgently, many will soon lose their homes. The prosperity brought about by colonial rule has been lost post-Brexit. And there are fears that the conflict and unrest could turn into rebellion. The Prime Minister's residence at No. 10 Downing Street has evolved into a 'revolving door' that doesn't let anyone stay for long as a result of these complexities. Rishi Sunak is the fifth person to become Prime Minister since the 2016 Brexit vote. Never before in the century has Britain faced a political crisis of this magnitude.
There is a great lesson for India in the developments in Britain. That country is unable to escape the vortex created by Brexit. The UK has fallen into racially polarised politics and populist agendas. That gamble, which was supposed to end internal strife within the Conservative Party and keep the party in power, was a historic folly. Political experts and economists of the time had predicted that it would lead to a reversal of Britain's foreign, economic, and trade policies and would plunge the island nation into poverty and make it politically irrelevant. It is literally materialising in Britain's existence in the last six years. Flawed political systems and poor leadership accelerated its downfall. Once party interests and personal ambitions got placed above the good of the country, the downfall moved toward absolute disaster.
India is also indulging in legislation that discriminates against refugees on the basis of birthright 'roots' and hates citizens on the basis of narrow religious nationalism. Those who celebrate Rishi Sunak's rise to power as a contribution of India need to remember how terribly narrow their religious and national consciousness was to Sonia Gandhi's bid for the post of Prime Minister. Shashi Tharoor's question whether India can imagine a Muslim as Prime Minister today is important because it questions the continuation of hate politics. 12 years of Tory rule has convinced Britain that the hateful and racist slogans that Boris Johnson and the Brexiteers kept alive life cannot lead the country forward. How many years it will take for India to be convinced of the same remains to be seen.