After Rishi Sunak emerged as the front-runner for the top job, he was given the not-so-coveted title of the UK’s second consecutive unelected prime minister, taking office in 2022. the country’s first British leader.

Sunak was born in the southern English port city of Southampton in 1980. His father Yashvir was a family doctor and his mother Usha was a pharmacist. They were born and raised in modern day Kenya and Tanzania respectively before moving to the UK. Sunak’s grandparents on both sides were originally from India and emigrated to East Africa.

Indians have a long history with African traders in the Indian Ocean region, ties that strengthened in the 19th century. During the time of the British Empire, and especially after its establishment East African Protectorate (also known as British East Africa) in 1885 many Indians moved to the region then under British control. India’s population grew rapidly and it prospered economically.

Many Indian immigrants and their descendants remain in East Africa today, but significant numbers left in the latter half of the 20th century. In the 1960s, the region became a less hospitable place for Indians, the most shameful evidence of which is the expulsion of the Indian minority from Uganda by order of the then President Idi Amin. It was at this time that a significant part of the Indian diaspora left Kenya and Tanzania. Instead of returning to India, many settled in the US, Canada and the UK.

Sunak’s parents may have been born in East Africa, but his cultural affinity is with Indian roots. He is a practicing Hindu and does not eat beef, for example. As said in a 2015 interview:

British Indian is something I note in the census, we have a category for that. I am thoroughly British, this is my home and my country, but my religious and cultural heritage is Indian, my wife is Indian.

A dream for some

The Sunaks’ personal family history can be seen as a testament to the British dream: the idea that Britain is a land of opportunity, where no matter where you come from, if you work hard you can make it to the top. The formula for success is simple hard work and focus.

Both his parents studied in Great Britain: his father studied medicine at the University of Liverpool, his mother studied pharmaceutics at my institution, Astana University. Sunak talked about the sacrifices his parents made to give him “opportunities they could only dream of. But it was Britain, our country, that gave them and millions like them a chance for a better future.”

Not all immigrants, of course, can afford their children the best education money can buy — no matter how strong their work ethic. Privately educated at Winchester, one of England’s oldest and most expensive public boarding schools, Sunak certainly had a privileged upbringing. He followed the well-trodden path of many members of Britain’s political elite, studying politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford. After leaving school, he entered the world of investment banking, taking a job at Goldman Sachs before going to Stanford University in the US to get an MBA.

He married into wealth. His wife Akshata Murthy is the daughter of Indian billionaire NR Narayana Murthy, co-founder of Infosys. Her shares in her father’s company make her one of Britain’s richest women. The combined wealth of the couple is 730 million pounds. Thus, Sunak can allegedly claim another title – na the richest man ever to sit in the House of Commons.

Scandal because of his wife non-resident tax status threatened to end Sunak’s career less than a year ago, but he managed to recover.

Clearly aware that his wealth may clash with the public’s experience, Sunak makes sure that his image is carefully curated (with the help of a PR company). More like a social media influencer than a politician, choreographed pictures and videos have characterized his every move since becoming a cabinet minister in Boris Johnson’s government in 2020.

Still, it’s a big moment. Whatever mixed feelings his personal condition may cause, it is important to become the country’s first non-white leader. In some ways, the Conservative Party has something to be proud of when it comes to promoting ethnic minority colleagues. In Liz Truss’s administration, politicians from ethnic minorities held three key posts: Finance Minister, Home Secretary and Foreign Minister – albeit briefly.

However, all of them, like Rishi Sunak, received private education. There is certainly room for a special kind of diversity in the Conservative Party.

Interestingly, Sunak was not popular among party members when he first ran for leadership in the summer of 2022. possible explanation – and something that certainly deserves further investigation – is that the membership is less comfortable with an ethnic minority leader than it seems. In the infamous radio show, the caller, who identified himself as a member of the Tory party, said he, “like most people”, did not think of Sunak as British. Although this was the opinion of one of the callers on the radio show, such views are a reminder that some people still do not accept a British-Asian identity in order to be truly British.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quick to congratulate Sunak, calling him that “living bridge” of the Indians of Great Britain”. In the choppy waters of British and even international politics, all eyes will be on how well the bridge stands.