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Churchill’s soul must be restless…!

Lokmat   By Vijay Darda | 31-10-2022

First an Indian took over East India Company and now a person of Indian origin has occupied UK PM’s chair

Vijay Darda

I’m sure you’re wondering why I suddenly remembered Winston Churchill. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had held office from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955. Now Indian-origin Rishi Sunak holds the same position. During Churchill’s first term, India was a British colony, and the freedom movement was at a turning point. Winston Churchill had stated at that time that he did not become prime minister to liberate India. India had no right to aspire for freedom. Indians won’t be able to rule the nation, even if they gain independence, Churchill had said dismissively. How the pages of time have turned! After fifteen terms of Prime Ministers, Rishi Sunak now occupies the same chair that Churchill had occupied. Churchill’s soul must be groaning that the Indian race which was considered second class, where the ‘father of our nation’ was called a ‘half-naked fakir’, how did a person of the same Indian race become the Prime Minister of Britain?

Before discussing about Sunak and present-day Britain, I am reminded of an anecdote. After India’s independence, Churchill again became the Prime Minister of Britain in 1951 and during that time Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had paid a visit to England. There Churchill asked him that we put you in jail, yet you do not hate us? Panditji said that our country belongs to Lord Mahavir and Lord Buddha. We are the followers of Gandhiji who believed that if a person walks on the path of non-violence and truth with fearlessness, success is definitely achieved. We persisted with our cause and the British had to leave India. I have come to meet you as the first Prime Minister of an independent country. The question of hatred does not arise.

Certainly, Churchill must have felt the pinch because the same person was responsible for the death of an estimated three million Indians during the devastating famine of 1943. The grain stores were full but he did not open the gates of the stores and said that the help would prove insufficient as Indians produce babies like rabbits! Remembering Churchill’s words, the heart sinks, but now is the time to be proud of being an Indian because our race has triumphed even in the country that had once enslaved us.

Rishi Sunak’s ancestors reached Britain via Kenya. There is no doubt that Rishi Sunak is now completely a British citizen and his country will remain his first priority and should be the same, but we can be proud that he is of Indian origin. India’s religious tradition is in his blood and he expresses it too. Akshata, the daughter of India’s renowned industrialist Narayana Murthy, is his wife, so the relationship is deeply connected with India. Rishi Sunak has also said in his interview that his father-in-law Narayana Murthy had advised him to enter business and politics. We all know that Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murthy are highly cultured. Cultural values are clearly visible in Sunak too.

The attitude of the Conservative Party to which Rishi Sunak belongs to has never been generous towards India, but sometimes circumstances force a change. Boris Johnson of his own party did not allow him to occupy the Prime Minister’s chair in the first round because he is not a person of British origin. Liz Truss was not very appropriate but she assumed the PM’s office but could not survive. Circumstances were such that Sunak was bound to get a chance. Britain’s generosity is being talked about after Sunak became the Prime Minister, but in reality, Sunak’s becoming the PM is the compulsion of Britain. Yes, if the Conservative Party under the leadership of Rishi Sunak wins in the next election and he becomes the PM again, then the generosity will be clearly understood. At present, the financial condition of Britain leaves a lot to be desired. The economic roadmap that Sunak has charted out is promising and his tenure as finance minister has also been good. There is no one better than him for becoming PM of Britain!

Yes, it can be said that the British generation that ruled India is over and the new generation is looking at the contribution of Indians in the development of Britain. You will be surprised to know that more Indians are living in Britain today than the British used to live in India when it was under British rule. The data from the 1941 census shows that approximately 1.44 lakh British were living in India at that time. Today more than 16 lakh people of Indian origin are living in Britain. This figure is about 2.6 per cent of the total population of Britain. Of these, more than 34 per cent are youth. About 50 per cent of people of Indian origin are born in Britain. Certainly, people of Indian origin have a significant contribution to the economic development of Britain. Their influence over politics is also increasing continuously. In the 2019 elections, 15 people of Indian origin were elected. An equal number of people of Pakistani origin were also elected. Even four persons of Bangladeshi origin reached the Parliament.

However, this does not mean that racial discrimination is over in Britain. Discrimination is still there but Indians have earned respect and dignity for themselves. In 2010, all Indians felt proud when Sanjiv Mehta, CEO and MD of Hindustan Unilever, bought the East India Company which once ruled India. The spirit of Churchill, who always spewed venom against Indians, must be weeping because the Hinduja Group bought the 1100-room World War Office building of Churchill near the British Parliament and it is being converted into a hotel.

Indeed, Indians have achieved the best position in the world not only economically but also politically. In countries like Mauritius, and Fiji, Indians are already at the peak of politics. Even in a country like Canada, Indians wield a lot of influence. Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa is also of Indian origin. Surely tomorrow belongs to Indians. But always keep one thing in mind. We should not give up our cultural values because this is our strength.

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