Rise of Rishi Sunak and emergence of the global Hindu citizen

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All the Indian nationalist chest-thumping notwithstanding, Rishi Sunak becoming the Prime Minister of the UK is not about history coming to a full circle or India avenging British colonisation.

India has not colonised Britain back (unless we are referring to the complete domination of chicken tikka or malai kofta on the English plate). Nor is Rishi Sunak Indian. He may be of Indian origin and Hindu, but he is more Brit than many Brits. One does not scale the peak of the Tory hierarchy unless one is not just a convincing but a formidable British nationalist. The other Indian-born and Sunak’s home secretary, Suella Braverman, is a Buddhist who wears British colonisation of India proudly on her sleeves. She holds hawkish views against immigration.

So, it is facile to assume that their position of power will automatically benefit Indians.

But their ascent and success hold insights into other pertinent phenomena, especially in matters of immigration, citizenship, multiculturalism, and mainstreaming.

Sunak’s rise to power is a re-announcement of the arrival of the global Hindu citizen. This person makes himself or herself an asset, not a liability, in whichever part of the world he or she settles. They work hard, abide by the laws of that land, respect its culture, pay taxes, compete and win against the best in their profession, and love the host nation.

But a crucial difference between this person and a Hindu immigrant of the ’70s or ’80s is that unlike in the past, today’s Hindu diaspora achiever is not squeamish about his or her religion, ethnicity, and roots. A Sunak or Tulsi Gabbard openly wears the symbols of their civilisation of origin. They celebrate Diwali, perform puja at temples, or wear the kalava or tilak. Google CEO Sundar Pichai even trolls Pakistani cricket fans during an India-Pakistan match.

It is now a cliche that a string of multinational giants are led by Hindus/Indians. American Hindus have the highest rates of educational achievement and highest household incomes among all religious groups, besides having the lowest divorce rates. A 2008 Pew research shows that of all the American adults who said they were raised as Hindus, 80 percent stuck to the faith. That is the highest retention rate for any religion in America.

Data submitted to the UK House of Commons show that of the 78,324 prisoners in the jails of England and Wales, there are just 329 Hindus, or 0.4 per cent. That is the lowest among all religious groups. Muslims, who constitute 4.4 per cent of the UK’s population, represent 17.5 per cent in the nation’s prisons.

This also brings us to the debate on citizenship: whether every arrival, legal or otherwise, should be rewarded with it. America has been a world-class melting pot of talent because it follows a strict immigration policy. Citizenship is earned, not automatically granted by virtue of bleeding-heart politics. Both Republicans and Democrats, despite their different public posturing, have blocked illegal and indiscriminate immigration.

Large parts of Europe, however, have got inundated with illegals, bringing with them Islamism, terrorism, grooming gangs, street crime, and drugs. If the EU bureaucracy’s elitist liberalism has done most of the damage, the continent’s geographic proximity to the troubled Middle East and north Africa has not helped.

Hindu immigrants generally travel with education and ambition, but no excess baggage of radicalisation. They are generally considered good neighbours and competent colleagues.

But their success, assertion of identity, and the rise of Narendra Modi have darkened the spectre of Hinduphobia. From whitewashing anti-Hindu genocides on American campuses to attacking Hindu homes in Leicester to holding xenophobic conference against Hindutva, the onslaught has got increasingly intense.

Sunak has been the target of gratuitous anti-Hindu, racist slurs, both online and offline. He has calmly gone about his business so far. He held a grihapravesh and Diwali party at 10 Downing Street, undeterred by the vicious attacks.

If he succeeds as the UK prime minister, the emergence of the confident and overachieving global Hindu will get a further fillip. It will also reaffirm that this ancient civilisation codes in love and loyalty towards whichever land a Hindu makes his or her home.

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Rise of Rishi Sunak and emergence of the global Hindu citizen
Rise of Rishi Sunak and emergence of the global Hindu citizen
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