Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Power shift in uk

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Rishi Sunak’s rise to the post of UK Prime Minister was as surprising as his exit from office this past week. Sunak, son of immigrants from Punjab province who reached the UK after a stint in Africa many years ago, took over as PM not through elections but by virtue of being a leader who was a natural choice for that post when Liz Truss made a premature exit from power in 2022. In less than two years, internal political compulsions forced Sunak to call early elections. The nation voted him out and brought in the Labour Party after its 14-year-long performance as the main Opposition. While Sunak’s policies and leadership of the UK as its prime minister were remarkable in several respects, an undercurrent of racial feelings appeared to have swung the balance in favour of the Labour and its new Prime Minister Keir Starmer.
A politician from among the Indian immigrants being sworn in as the Prime Minister to lead the UK was unthinkable in the past. But, the demographic changes in the UK in recent years were also a pointer to the shape of things to come. Greater London now has a Muslim population of 15 per cent; and there are sizable Indian / Asian/ Pakistani/ African settlements across the country, swelling in numbers, even as they in totality do not form even a quarter of the total population. The population of whites is dwindling across Europe. Two Indian businessmen- Lakshmi Mittal and Gopichand Hinduja – are among the top billionaires in the UK; a far cry from the era when India was a part of the British Raj. In the age of Globalization, the hope of “borders disappearing and the world turning into a global village,” is still a mirage. But, changes of a significant nature are perceptible in the geopolitical sphere. US vice president Kamala Harris, born of immigrant parents, is half Indian and half African. She’s a step away from the post of President, also as her split ancestry would be her added advantage in a future election.
An Indian-origin leader being the head of the US or UK in itself means little in terms of a strategic advantage to this country. Rather, such links would be a constraint in such leaders’ decision-making processes vis-a-vis the dealings with India. In policy formulations, the US president or the UK prime minister does not have an independent decision-making authority. They will be guided by the teams of policy makers linked to their parties. Yet, the feel-good factor of an Indian being at the head of powerful nations like the UK or the US is an advantage to India. Sunak will be the new leader of the opposition in the UK, which also is a powerful position.

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