• Saturday, July 13, 2024


‘Hugely’ proud of my Indian roots, says Sunak ahead of G20 visit to India

The British premier said he was looking forward to meeting his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during his visit to New Delhi.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

CRICKET is the topic over which prime minister Rishi Sunak converses with his Indian parents-in-law at the dinner table instead of any political matter related to either India or Britain, he has said in an interview.

“The most political we tend to get is in our discussion of cricket,” Sunak said in the interview with the Press Trust of India ahead of his visit to India for the G20 summit scheduled in New Delhi for September 9 and 10.

“I’ve agreed that my daughters can support India when it comes to cricket, as long as they support England when it comes to football,” the 43-year-old premier of Indian origin told the news outlet.

While Sunak’s parents, both of Indian origin, came to the UK from east Africa, his Indian-born wife Akshata Murty is the daughter of India’s billionaire tech czar Narayana Murthy and philanthropist and educator Sudha Murty.

In an interview via email days ahead of his high-profile visit to New Delhi, the premier said on Wednesday the response from the Indian people to his appointment as the prime minister was “overwhelming and humbling.”

“I am hugely proud of my Indian roots and my connections to India. As you know, my wife is Indian and being a proud Hindu means I will always have a connection to India and the people of India,” he said.

The Conservative leader, who was first elected as an MP in 2015, became the finance minister or chancellor of exchequer in February 2020 by then prime minister Boris Johnson.

In October last year, he became the first Indian-origin British prime minister replacing a short-serving Liz Truss, scripting history.

“One of the first things I did after becoming prime minister was to hold a reception for Diwali in Downing Street. Having the opportunity to welcome many British Indians into Number 10 and seeing the building decorated from top to bottom with lights and flowers was an incredibly proud and emotional moment for me,” the PM said.

“Because my story is the story of so many people in Britain with deep and enduring links to India. The strength of our country lies in its diversity, and that’s something I have seen first-hand many times since becoming prime minister,” he said.

Asked whether he discusses Indian politics, technology or problems he faces in running Great Britain when he sits with his in-laws, Sunak said it is important to keep politics separate from family.

“It’s very important to keep politics separate from family, but of course my wife and two daughters very much guide my values, as do my parents and parents-in-law.”

“I am, though, incredibly proud of my parents-in-law and what they have achieved — going from nothing to building one of the world’s largest and most respected companies, which employs thousands of people in both India and in the UK,” he said.

“I want to create and lead a country where anyone can emulate the kind of success that they have had,” Sunak said.

Looking forward to his visit to India, Sunak said he hoped that he would be able to get an opportunity to visit places in India that he had gone with his wife Akshata in their younger days but admitted that they would be busy during the entire trip.

Sunak said he was also looking forward to meeting his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and deliberate on how collaboration between the two countries helps in dealing with various global challenges.

“My ministerial colleagues who have visited India in the past year have all returned with a renewed enthusiasm for the UK-India partnership,” he said.

“Beyond the work of the G20 itself, it has been fantastic for so many people to see the breadth and depth of India by travelling all over the country for meetings and discovering the unique cultures on display all over India,” he added.

“When I meet prime minister Modi again this week it will be an opportunity to speak about some of the global challenges we face, and the huge role that the UK and India have to play in addressing them,” Sunak said.

Sunak is also visiting India at a time when the UK and India are in the middle of a process to negotiate a free trade deal.

(With PTI inputs)

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