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A ‘Historic’ Development And…

Rishi Sunak (b. May 12, 1980) recently became the third British Prime Minister in three months. It is, of course, a historical development. Apart from that, Sunak has become the first non-White Prime Minister of Britain. It has not been an easy task for Sunak, as an undercurrent of racism is still running throughout Britain. The anti-immigration atmosphere has rendered that current more visible in recent times. Former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (November 30, 1874 – January 24, 1965) might have said today that as per Darwin’s theory, the non-Whites are inferior people, hence, it is not a wise decision to accept a non-White person as the Prime Minister of Britain.

Although Rishi Sunak is a pure Briton and veritably an elite, he is of Indian descent. Hence, there is quite a bit of excitement about him among the Sub-continental diaspora. Perhaps, the Brexit-obsessed Britain is not in a position to celebrate this diversity. On the other hand, the British history of the last 200 years shows that the 42-year-old Sunak is the youngest Prime Minister of his country. Sunak has taken charge at a time when the British Economy is going through a grave crisis. Now, his main challenge is to rescue the British Economy from total collapse, while cementing his position. He would also have to ensure that his Government, as well as the country, get stable.

Meanwhile, political analysts have warned those Indians, who are happy with Sunak’s Prime Ministership, saying that although Sunak is of Indian-origin, it is difficult to say whether he is a friend of India. The current Prime Minister is one of the hard-line leaders of the pro-Brexit faction of the Conservative Party. As expected, he is in favour of toughening the immigration rules. Born in a very rich family, Sunak attended elite schools and colleges. He is also the richest Prime Minister of Britain. Economic policies, adopted by him as the Finance Secretary of former Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, have already hinted that a country, like India, should not expect anything, financially or commercially, from Sunak.

From income tax to student immigration to health care, Sunak’s policies would surely be creating obstacles for the low-income groups or a large part of the immigrant population. He, like his predecessors, would prioritise Britain’s interests while signing trade agreements with other countries. The biggest issue in trade agreements between Britain and India is the security of the service data. There is still no assurance that Britain will take care of this issue while dealing with India. It seems that Sunak would not pave the way for Indian services in the field of health and Information Technology sectors in Britain, in near future.

One should keep in her/his mind that the characters of Indian Politics and British Politics are not the same… in fact, they are quite different. If the Prime Minister or the Finance Minister of India announces that taxes will be reduced by 15%, and prices of petroleum products will be decreased by 30%, with the Government providing huge subsidies; then the people of India might have been venerated the politician as the messiah of the poor-middle class overnight. S/he could have won the next couple of elections just by making such promises.

However, Mary Elizabeth Truss was heavily criticised for making such promises, and was forced to resign as the Prime Minister. It is because the people of Britain rightly realised that their country would have to borrow at least GBP 200 billion from the market in order to implement this policy, and the responsibility for repaying that debt would fall on the generations to come. Economists have opined that Britain might never be able to repay the debt, and might fall into a Debt Trap or go bankrupt, like Sri Lanka. Britain’s financial markets collapsed immediately after Truss announced such a populist policy. As a result, Truss was forced to resign as Prime Minister after serving only 45 days.

On the other hand, the Government of India borrows millions and millions of rupees from the market in order to provide ordinary people with just INR 200-500 or to introduce new welfare schemes. Later, the politicians put the burden on the shoulders of the common people, and win elections with a huge margin. There is a stark difference in public psychology in India and Britain, the two Democratic countries. While the majority of Indians expect subsidies from their Government, a British Prime Minister has been forced to quit for announcing populist policies. In Britain, the Government is afraid of people. However, people are afraid of their Government in India.

Of course, India has a lot to learn from Britain. Right now, Britain is in a lot of trouble. However, this European nation is far ahead (of India), as far as Democracy is concerned. The country has shown how much importance the merit of a person can get, irrespective of her/his ethnic, racial and religious identity. On the other hand, the image of Indian Democracy is woefully weak. It seems that India shall never get a Prime Minister belonging to a minority community. Although India got Presidents, belonging to a minority community, in the past, the President is the Head of the State (like the British Monarch), and not the Head of the Government.

Whatever the opinion of conservative British society is, the Conservative Party has made this achievement possible. Perhaps, this is the right time for India to introspect what it wanted, and what it has achieved so far.

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