Rishi Sunak’s Race to UK Post Excites Many Amid an Ardent Immigrant History & Indians’ ‘Videshi’ Dreams

As Rishi Sunak is a major candidate in the race for the post of an incoming Prime Minister in the UK this former Finance Minister who belongs to the Conservative party has captured the imagination of India and long-standing “dreams”. Although neither Sunak or their parents are from India the nomination of Sunak will bring to light the complex story of Indians in the UK and, more specifically, in British politics.

Sunak along with the Home Secretary Priti Patel, in the year 2020 were appointed to Priti Patel, Home Secretary in 2020 joined the “most Indian cabinet” in British history as The Guardian put in its report. But, despite living with British politics in the UK since the 17th century the country has had an arduous journey for Indians to be a part of British politics.

From the 18th century onwards in the 18th century, the first Indians to move to Britain were sailors from the poor who were working for the East India Company according to a report in the Indian Express says, citing American historian Richard T Schaefer. Following the footsteps of the first immigrants followed Indian class of merchants, mostly that of the Gujaratis as well as the Parsis of Bombay as well as their Chettiar financers of the southern. In the aftermath, a massive number of Indian soldiers were sent in England to fight during the World War, Sikhs making about 20 percent and a large portion of them decided to return following the war.

According to an article from the Guardian, Indian migration to the UK followed in two major waves. The first occurred in the mid-century 1940s and 50s in which migrants were hired to India to fill in gaps in labour in the UK through successive governments. In foundries and in manufacturing, they took part in the anti-racist and union movements. Even today they are more likely to be working-class and Labour voting according to the report.

The second wave of migrants came in the 60s and 70s as the Indian-born “twice immigrants” were welcomed to the UK after being exiled of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. These immigrants were part of the wealthy merchant class of the African countries, and although they accounted for a small proportion of the population, they held a significant part of the nation’s private assets that were not agricultural. When they came to the UK and subsequently to the UK, they brought substantial wealth with their. Sunak, Patel and the Attorney General Suella Braverman are the descendants of the immigrants.

The first Indian member of the British Parliament is Dadabhai Naoroji, who was the first non-white member of the British parliament. He remained an avid advocate in support of the rights and interests for Indians that were living in British rule. In the period, militants Lal Mohan Ghose and Madame Bhikaji Cama were involved in several campaigns against British policies and government in India. However, Indian-born politicians began appearing in British politics infrequently after an additional wave of immigration in the 1960s and 1970s.

It may have been an extensive journey, Indian-born politicians have now become prominent within their positions in the British government. One of the main reasons for this increase is the influence that Indian-born citizens and immigrants have over voting throughout the UK. Prior to the 2015 elections for parliament the numbers of Indian voters was estimated to be 615,500 with over 95 percent of them voting according to as the Indian Express report said. According to study conducted by Carnegie Endowment, British Indians constitute the largest swing voter in the political arena. The parties that have recognized this fact, have urged candidates who draw the attention of this group of voters.

While all eyes are focused at Sunak and his bid to become the next prime minister of the UK It’s worth looking at the route which led to this point and also to look at other prominent Indian politicians who helped pave the way.

Sir Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree

His father was of Parsi origin. Member in Parliament (MP) and a British Conservative Party politician in the early 1900s along with Dadabhai Naoroji. Bhownaggree was, however, a supporter of British ruling in India and was opposed to the home rule movement.

Shapurji Saklatvala

It was also a communist activist as well as a British political leader from 1909 until the present. He was renowned as the first person with Indian descent to be elected an elected British member of parliament (MP) with the UK Labour Party, and was also one of the rare members of the Communist Party of Great Britain to hold the office of an MP.

Satyendra Prasanna Sinha

He was the Governor for the first time in Bihar and Orissa and the first Indian Advocate General of Bengal First Indian to be elected an officer of the Viceroy’s Executive Council and the first Indian to be elected as an official part of the British House of Lords in 1919.

Rahasya Rudy Narayan

Narayan Barrister was also a civil rights activist who came from Guyana to UK after his return to Guyana during the 50s. A lot of his cases focused on the use of force by police against vulnerable and poor people.

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