Nothing is more historical than the Conservative party choosing a devout Hindu, Rishi Sunak, to lead the party and the nation. It came at the auspicious time for Hindus immersed in celebrating Deepawali.
Winston Churchill may be restless in his grave watching an Indian take the reign of Britain. Why? Because he once remarked, “all Indian leaders will be of low caliber and men of straw.” I hope that PM Sunak proves Churchill wrong to assert that Indian leaders are of high caliber.
A Tweet by PM Sunak says it all when he welcomes people for Deepawali at his official residence. “I will do everything I can in this job to build a Britain where our children and our grandchildren can light their Diyas and look to the future with hope,” says Sunak. The message could not be more Hindu-centric by Sunak with his hands folded.
A focus on “Diya” as the Divine light was in an earlier column. The earthen diyas were first lit to welcome Hindu God Ram in ancient times to his hometown, Ayodhya. This year, the same city was lit up with about 1.7 million diyas to reassert Ram’s birthplace as the Holy place for Hindus. A diya symbolizes the victory of good over evil and leads people out of ignorance toward knowledge.
Who is Rishi Sunak?
A devout practicing Hindu, Sunak is the first Prime Minister of color (brown) of Indian descent. Sunak is also the first to turn the tide in leading a “Christian-majority” nation that colonized “Hindu-majority” India until 1947.
Sunak’s parents deserve credit for cultivating strong values in him about Hinduism. Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murthy, visit the temple
regularly. He took the oath with Bhagwat Gita, the Hindu scripture, in his hand. He wears a sacred “red thread” on his wrist, commonly tied in ritualistic Hindu practices.
Only time will tell how Britons accept a ‘Brown’ and Hindu leading the UK. Will Sunak earn the trust of Britons by keeping his promise to unite the “country, not with words, but with action?” Sunak will be under the scanner more than any of his predecessors because of his color and religion. It is my contention that Sunak, the youngest PM at the age of 42, will make a strong-willed and good leader.
What is in his Name?
The PM’s first name ‘Rishi” is distinctly Hindu with a deeper and dual meaning. Rishi is generally reserved for an inspired poet or seer with the highest level of spiritual attainment. Its closest English equivalent is “Sage,” It is defined as “a person famed for wisdom; someone venerated for the possession of wisdom, judgment, and experience.”
Sunak’s Oxford/Stanford education, business acumen, wisdom, and experiences got him to lead his party and serve as the PM. His Hindu upbringing connects Sunak deeply with spirituality.
Will Hinduism Rise with Sunak as Prime Minister?
The short answer is yes. The renaissance of Hinduism and Hindu heritage has been on a high-speed train since Modi became Prime Minister in 2014. Now with Sunak on the political stage, the Hindu renaissance will ride on a superfast bullet train. The Hindu Prime Minister Sunak has the potential to put a spotlight on Hinduism in the UK and the rest of the Christian-majority world.
Among about one Billion Hindus, only a certain percentage practice some form of Hinduism. But they are not necessarily proud of their heritage, culture, and being openly Hindu. I hope that two practicing Hindu Prime Ministers (Modi and Sunak) will reverse that trend. Consequently, more of us will hold our heads high as “Proud Hindus.”
I contend that Modi with a personality and traits of a Hindu sage is a world leader. Modi persuaded the world to accept Yoga and Meditation for the wellness of body and mind. Sunak should add that Hinduism tenets and texts like Bhagwat Gita will make the world a better place.
Hinduism History in India:
Hinduism with its roots in the ancient Sanatan Dharma predates all religions in the world. For example, the Shloka like सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिन…( Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina…) teaches and promotes, “Let all be happy, let all be free from debilitation, let all see goodness, let there be no victims of sorrow.”
Another Sanskrit phrase, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” is a demonstration of the all-inclusive attitude in Hindu tradition. Simply put, it means that the “World is One Family.’ Hindus have believed in it for thousands of years. Today, we talk about it as “Unity in diversity.”
It is a travesty that the glorious history of Hindus in India was pushed under the rug first by the Mughals. It was followed by the British. Even the policies and politics of the Brown Raj in post-independence India for decades did nothing to highlight India’s ancient civilization.
As a child, I got to read only about Mughal and British history in school with little exposure to Hindu statesmen (and women), Hinduism, and Sanatan Dharma. By design, the curriculum was developed to corrupt Hindu minds as if India’s ancient civilization was nonexistent.
Hinduism and Politics:
Sunak, a practicing Hindu and PM, is positive news for Hindus at large. However, Sunak’s first duty and responsibility are for the United Kingdom. In his first speech as Prime Minister, he acknowledged, “Our country is facing a profound economic crisis.” He went on to promise, “I will place economic stability and confidence at the heart of this government’s agenda.”
Expecting anything other than fixing the economy in the near term by Sunak will be suicidal for him and the UK.
It should not come as a surprise that Sunak’s economic policy will include regaining a fifth place in the world economy. India gained 5th place and the UK moved to 6th place not too long ago. Moving back to fifth place is a political and economic necessity for Sunak’s success.
UK and India Relations/Politics:
It is too soon to assess Sunak’s political agenda toward Hindu-majority India. However, the UK and India need each other for mutual progress and prosperity. India has emerged as a leader on the world stage both economically and politically. India is a natural trade partner on many fronts and a reservoir for trained manpower in STEM-related areas.
While economic reforms are first and foremost, Sunak’s Home Minister, Suella Braverman, should refrain from disparaging Indian immigrants. Notwithstanding the UK’s right to reform its immigration policy, the disparaging remarks and/or humiliation have no place.
Sunak should put a STOP to the increasing Islamic radicalism and anti-Hindu activities in the UK immediately. Reportedly, too many people from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan are a significant drain on the British exchequer. Therefore, putting an end to the financial drain is a step in the right direction for an improved economy and reduced radicalism.
The world awaits with anticipation how the two Hindu leaders- Modi and Sunak- will emerge together on the world stage in the G-20 meeting next month. The diplomatic back channels must be hard at work preparing the political agenda for the discussion by the Hindu duo.
Among the top three religions of Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, the former two have only one Pope and Mohammad to lead their believers. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion with many Gods and Goddesses to fulfill their religious and spiritual needs. The ‘women empowerment’ of today was well known in Sanatan Dharma centuries ago. For example, Hindu Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati are the embodiment of power, prosperity, and wisdom, respectively.
Hindus do no harm or attack anyone unless provoked. They are generally God-fearing and don’t engage in religious conversion. The world will realize the virtues and tenets of Hinduism like Yoga and meditation. Hindus not only worship Gods/Goddesses, they believe that God is omnipresent. Thus they respect all living and non-living things and nature.
The obvious to all is 1+1=2. But, how do we characterize the duo of Hindu Prime Ministers in India and the UK? I surmise that the two Hindu leaders standing side by side will manifest the influence of “11.” With their presence, the renaissance of Hinduism and its positive influence will continue to grow globally.
I am confident that the Christian-majority UK will thrive under the leadership of a wise and capable Rishi Sunak. His success is critical not only for Hindu-majority India but the rest of the world.
Sunak and Modi should form a strategic alliance. Their combined influence of “11” should help get rid of menaces like terrorism and radicalization. These menaces threaten global stability and peace. I am equally confident that the world will recognize and respect the tenets of Sanatan Dharma in the times to come.