The opinions expressed in the opinion columns are those of the author.
There are two types of people in this world: those who have more wealth than King Charles III and those who don’t. Rishi Sunak, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is part of the old group. People of Indian descent, like me, could see themselves in Sunak, with glorifying titles such as “Rishi Sunak’s Southampton childhood where his parents ran a pharmacy and he was a waiter.” I can feel represented on the Western stage and find comfort in the belief that there is someone in a position of power who potentially understands my lived experience.
While I wish it weren’t, that hope is completely outlandish in the context of Sunak’s rise to global notoriety. The one thing that Sunak and I, and many other people of South Asian descent, share is our skin color. It’s time to stop portraying him as someone who can understand the struggles of the British working class and the global Indian population. His lavish upbringing alienates him from communities like ours, and the policies he proposes continue to marginalize vulnerable populations.
For Sunak to be a worthy role model, he must embrace the people he serves and move away from elitism and pure greed that torment his platform.
Growing up, Sunak attended the Stroud Schoola preparatory school that costs about $20,000 per year. From there he attended Winchester Collegea prestigious — and expensive — high school.
If I wanted to follow in Sunak’s footsteps, I would have to pay more than $53,000 annually just for high school. Sunak is an exception, as many people of South Asian descent, including myself, could not even imagine paying that much money for education.
Eventually, Sunak would continue to work at Goldman Sachs and a few hedge funds, and married to even more exorbitant wealth thanks to his union with Akshata Murty. Murty’s Fortune outmoded that of the late Queen Elizabeth, and Sunak’s disclosure of their wealth did not include much of the family’s taxable assets. On par with unethical global elite practices, the couple has avoid millions of pounds in tax and admitted to using tax havens.
Much of the Indian community around the world does not have the wealth dream of using tax havens, not to mention lying to the press. While all citizens, regardless of origin and race, pay their taxes, the man who is supposed to represent them is held at a much lower level.
Given his background, it’s no surprise that Sunak has become the darling of Britain’s Conservative Party with his goals of reduce taxes – just like former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did. Cuts like these haven’t helped the UK economy, but they have deepen the pockets ultra-rich Britons.
Also unsurprisingly, money and self-interest cloud the conscience of policy makers, even on matters concerning their own community. Sunak’s Platform proudly supports Britain’s exit from the European Union, a movement fueled by anti-immigrant and anti-refugee rhetoric.
Therefore, hate crimes have increased as a direct result of Brexit to the point that white supremacists have been emboldened enough to brutally murder politicians opposed to Brexit.
Moreover, Sunak’s anti-immigrant and anti-refugee messages are central to his social policy platform of exclusion and elitism. He espouses Rwandan politicians, who cruelly move potential refugees to the United Kingdom. It would cost a estimated at $140 million just to relocate 200 asylum seekers, but Sunak’s platform only affects his own pockets, not the British working class who would probably bear the brunt of that cost with their Thatcher-style tax cuts in mind.
But what is perhaps even more glaring is that Rwandan politics could have prevented Sunak from own parents to immigrate to the UK, and he doesn’t seem to care. Clearly Sunak’s main interest is to serve the needs of Britain’s wealthiest – not the average citizen, Indian or not. His policies will hurt the finances and lives of South Asians in Britain and around the world.
Hosting a social commitment to refugees or immigrants just like his parents, Sunak could associate with groups such as the Partition Education Groupthat seeks to decolonize school curricula, or the South Asian Arts UK group that elevates South Asian contributions to art and culture. In addition, he could follow messages from organizations such as the Sanctuary city UK build welcoming and inclusive communities for immigrants and asylum seekers seeking a better life. Without policies like these, Sunak’s role on the world stage does as much for the people of South Asia as the prime ministers before him: nothing.
When Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “My patriotism does not teach me that I must let people be crushed under the boot of the Indian princes if only the English withdraw”, he warned of this prince. Sunak’s cushy life in the upper echelon of the unelected rests on the backs of the people he will leave behind – and has already Fly de – by pursuing tax cuts and an anti-immigrant policy. For Sunak to earn respect as a legitimate leader of the global South Asian diaspora, he must shift his political platform to include the real needs of his – and all – marginalized communities.
Rohin Mishra is a second-year economics and government student. He can be contacted at email@example.com.