Every Hindu felt proud when Rishi Sunak was appointed by King Charles III on 25 October 2022, making him the first Hindu prime minister of officially Christian Great Britain. England was in desperate need of a competent leader and Sunak, a practicing Hindu, came as a saviour. He was the third premier in the space of just seven weeks after Johnson’s partygate exit and Liz Truss’ mini-budget fiasco.
He is a proud Hindu who has taken oath of Parliament on the Hindu holy book, the Bhagwad Gita. In 2022 Sunak and his wife celebrated the Hindu festival of Krishna Janmashtami and worshipped a cow at Bhaktivedanta Manor temple.
At the age of 42 years, he became the youngest British prime minister in 210 years history. Earlier he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) from 2020 to 2022.
His grandparents migrated from Gujranwala in modern day Pakistan to East Africa. Sunak spoke out against the racism he faced in his life and how his family struggled while immigrating to Britain from East Africa in the 1960s.
OVERSEAS HINDU HEADS OF STATE BEFORE RISHI SUNAK
Rishi Sunak is the latest in a list of one Hindu woman and 21 Hindu men who have been Prime Ministers and Presidents of nine different countries around the world. These countries include 3 from Asia (Fiji, New Zealand and Singapore), 3 from West Indies (Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago), 2 from Europe (Ireland and UK) and one from Africa (Mauritius). Seven of them are incumbent Heads of State.
AWAKENING HINDU PRIDE
Basdeo Panday (born 1933) was Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago for 6 years from November 1995 till December 2001. He charmed a massive 50,000 persons crowd at January’s ‘Puja 2000,’ when he burst into Hanuman Chalisa, a popular Hindu song to Lord Hanuman. “Never before has a Prime Minister even attempted to pray with the Hindu community in such a real and emotional manner. By the second verse the crowd joined in. As the Prime Minister shouted at the end ‘Prem se bolo, Hanuman Ki Jai’ [‘Sing with love, Hail to Hanuman’] the crowd of thousands joined with him in a single voice that would have been heard for miles away…” In 2005, he was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman.
Kamla Parsad-Bissessar (born 1952) was Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago for 5 years from May 2010 to September 2015. She was the first female Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and also of entire Caribbean region (West Indies). She was also country’s first female Attorney General, and Leader of the Opposition, the first woman to chair the Commonwealth of Nations and the first Hindu woman and the first woman of Indian origin to be a prime minister of a country outside of India. In 2012 she surprised everyone when she bent down and touched the feet of President Pratibha Patil after being presented with the ‘Pravasi Bhartiya Samman’.
Chandrikapersad Santokhi (born 1959) is the present President of Suriname since July 2020. He took his oath holding Vedas and reciting Hindu Sanskrit shloks and mantras. Santokhi’s inauguration was blessed by several Hindu and Christian religious leaders.
PRAVASI BHARATIYA SAMMAN
Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (Overseas Indian Award), is granted by the Government of India to members of the Indian diaspora to honor their contributions to the countries of which they are members. The award was initiated in 2003 by then Vajpayee government.
Ten heads of state have been awarded Pravasi Bharatiya Samman: Rt. Hon’ble Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Pravind Jugnauth and Rajkeswur Purryag (Mauritius), Basdeo Panday and Kamla Parsad-Bissessar (Trinidad and Tobago), Bharat Jagdeo and Rabindernath Ramaotar (Guyana), Mahendra Pal Chaudhry (Fiji) and S. R. Nathan (Singapore).
HINDU HEADS OF STATE
22 Hindu Heads of State in 9 countries are —
- Sir Shivsagar Ram Gulam (1900–1985) was Prime Minister of Mauritius for 14 years from March 1968 to June 1982. He is widely recognized as Mauritius’ founding father. According to Various streets and public places in Mauritius bear his name. He also figures on every Mauritian Rupee coin and on the highest note tender of Rs 2,000. Monuments to him also stand in the Sir Shivsagar Ram Gulam Botanical Garden in Port Louis, and even in the village of SSR’s ancestor, near Patna, Bihar in India.
- Devan Nair (1923–2005) was President of Singapore for 3 years from October 1981 to March 1985. Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability was opened in 2014 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to recognise his contributions to the labour movement.
- Lachmiprasad Ramdat Misier (1926–2004) was President of Suriname for 5 years from February 1982 January 1988. “He has played a vital role in Suriname’s new democratic gestation. He brought unprecedented developments for the country”, said former president of Suriname Jules Wijdenbosch.
- Anerood Jugnauth (1930–2021) was Prime Minister of Mauritius for 18 years and President for 8 years between 1982 and 2017. He was made Queen’s Counsel in 1980, made a member of the Privy Council in 1983 and was knighted in 1988.
- Prataap Radhakishun (1934–2001) was Prime Minister of Suriname for 264 days during 1986 – 1987 period.
- Ramsewak Shankar (born 1937) was President of Suriname for 2 years 333 days between 1988 and 1990. His government was overthrown in a bloodless military coup.
- Veerasamy Ringadoo (1920–2000) was President of Mauritius for 110 days in 1992. Earlier he was the last governor-general of Mauritius from 1986 to 1992.
- Cheddi Jagan (1918–1997) was President of Guyana for 4 years between 1992 and 1997. Cheddi Jagan is widely regarded in Guyana as the Father of the Nation in 1953. President Sam Hinds described Jagan as the “greatest son and patriot that has ever walked this land”. The Cheddi Jagan Research Centre in Georgetown celebrates his life and work. The Cheddi Jagan International Airport, the primary international airport of the country, has been renamed after Jagan.
- Basdeo Panday (born 1933) was Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago for 6 years from November 1995 till December 2001.
- Navinchandra Ramgoolam (born 1947) was Prime Minister of Mauritius for 14 years between 1995 and 2014.
- Mahendra Chaudhry (born 1942) was Prime Minister of Fiji for 1 years 8 days from May 1999 to May 2000.
- Bharat Jagdeo (born 1964) was President of Guyana for 12 years from August 1999 to December 2011. At the age of 35, he was one of the youngest heads of state in the world. During his tenure as president, major economic and social reforms were initiated in Guyana. When he relinquished office, Guyana had experienced five consecutive years of strong economic growth, often out-pacing other South American countries.
- S. R. Nathan (1924–2016) was President of Singapore for 11 years 364 days from September 1999 to August 2011. In 2018, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), was renamed the S R Nathan School of Human Development (NSHD) to recognise his advocacy of social and community causes. In 2012, the Government of India conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (Overseas Indian Award) to Nathan in recognition of his contribution in building closer links between Singapore and India.
- Sir Anand Satyanand (born 1944) was the Governor-General of New Zealand for 5 years from 2006 to 2011. This post is equivalent to that of a President. Since returning to private life, Satyanand was Chairman of the Commonwealth Foundation for two 2-year terms. He then led the Commonwealth team in observing the National Elections of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. Satyanand received the Rotary International Award of Honour in 2011.
- Kamla Parsad-Bissessar (born 1952) was Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago for 5 years from May 2010 to September 2015.
- Rabindranauth Ramotar (born 1950) was President of Guyana for 3 years from December 2011 to May 2015.
- Kailash Purryag (born 1947) was President of Mauritius for 2 years 312 days from July 2012 to May 2015.
- Pravind Jugnauth (born 1961) is the present Prime Minister of Mauritius for more than 5 years since January 2017.
- Leo Varadkar (born 1979) was Taoiseach or Head of government of Ireland for 3 years from June 2017 to June 2020. Leo Varadkar (son of Dr. Ashok Varadkar) has visited India on a number of occasions. He completed his medical internship at KEM Hospital in his father’s childhood city of Mumbai.
One of Varadkar’s first acts as Taoiseach or Head of government of Ireland, was to announce a referendum on abortion for 2018.
- Prithvirajsing Roopun (born 1959) is the current President of Mauritius since December 2019.
- Chandrikapersad Santokhi (born 1959) is the present President of Suriname since July 2020.
- Rishi Sunak (born 1980) is the present Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 25 October 2022.
Reaction to Rishi Sunak by Indian Muslim Leaders
Indian Muslim leaders have maintained dead silence over inhuman atrocities on fellow Muslims in China. But they were quick to demand that a Burqa and hijab clad Muslim woman should become Prime Minister of India while making it clear that no Hindu man or woman can ever become Chief Minister of Kashmir as it is a Muslim majority state. London has a Muslim mayor of Pakistan descent. Will the Muslims demand a Hindu or Christian Mayor in Pakistan.