As a young British Asian woman, there are many things that I often think about. One of them is whether Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan will ever release a good romantic film. Another is whether I am putting on weight because of my fondness for paneer curries. And yet another thought asks how my grandma managed to make ice cream in her little village in India without recourse to an ice cream maker. Amongst all these pressing concerns, the possibility of Britain gaining its first Indian prime minister never entered my mind. Still, here we are. It’s 2022 and Rishi Sunak is one of two candidates vying for the prime spot as Tory leader. 

Sunak’s Path to Politics

Like my own parents, Rishi Sunak’s family came to the UK as immigrants from East Arica, hoping to build a better life for themselves. His mother worked in her own pharmacy and his father was an NHS doctor. Together, they managed to make enough money to send their son to a top private boys’ school. Sunak attended Winchester College, whose motto states: ‘Manners Maketh Man.’ Following Winchester, Sunak studied PPE at Oxford and worked his way up in the financial sector. His political career began in earnest in 2014, after winning the Richmond (Yorks) seat.

Sunak’s steady climb has been the envy of many young British Indians. However, his achievements are not that remarkable when placed in the context of a culture that actively encourages success through hard work and dedication. Asian families teach their children to work diligently and succeed through your own effort, regardless of economic background.

A Game Changer for the Young?

The impact of Sunak’s potential victory cannot be understated given the significance of class and race in Britain. For instance, white working-class boys continue to be amongst the most disadvantaged groups in Britain and the least likely to attend university. Figures from UCAS show that just 13 per cent of people from this group will attend higher education. This is despite Tony Blair’s once famous target of reaching a 50 per cent attendance rate. In comparison, the number of Asian men securing university places has climbed to 26 per cent (39 amongst women).

Personally, I believe that Sunak could put his natural charisma to use and make some much-needed changes to help these groups. However, a recent clip from a 2001 BBC documentary has cast a shadow over his candidacy. In that video, the young Tory hopeful seems to imply that he doesn’t ‘really’ have working-class friends — despite claiming to ‘mix and match.’


How much that slip will affect Sunak’s political image, remains unclear. What is clear after speaking with people from my community, is that quite a few of them are excited about the prospect of having a British Indian for PM.

Mr Chirag Patel is a 41-year-old store retail manager from South London. This is what he had to say.

What did you think of Sunak as Chancellor?

I feel he has done a lot of good for small businesses, such as the furlough scheme and having the bounce-back loans. This really made a difference for us to push through Covid. If he can take that enthusiasm and apply it as PM, I think it will turn Boris Johnson’s negatives into positives.

What would it mean for you to have a British Asian PM?

Personally, I think it is amazing what he has achieved, but it would not change my decision to vote for him in a possible snap election because he is from the same background as me. Though, he does need to stick to his word in his manifesto. As we all know, we are going to have to pay back the money he gave with furlough in taxes, which could anger some people. I do think some larger businesses have taken advantage of the bounce-back loans and not used them — though this is not Sunak’s fault. Business leaders must be accountable too.

Any last thoughts?

It truly does not matter whether he is from a White or Asian background, as I care more about his policies. We as Indians, work hard for what we have and I myself first started out as a paperboy and managed to save up for a bike which taught me skills and self-belief.

So, are we Ready4Rishi?

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