Rishi Sunak, an Oxford University and Stanford graduate, is Britain’s first Indian-origin Prime Minister. The investment banker-turned politician is the youngest British prime minister in 210 years. Here are some facts about him and his India connection:
- 42-year-old Sunak was born in the UK’s Southampton area to an Indian family. His grandparents hail from Punjab.
- The son of a pharmacist mother and doctor father, he was educated at one of England’s most renowned schools, Winchester, and then Oxford. He spent three years at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and later gained an MBA from Stanford in California, where he met his wife Akshata Murthy, Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy.
- Sunak worked at billionaire activist hedge fund manager Chris Hohn’s TCI Fund Management for about three years, before moving to join his TCI colleague Patrick Degorce’s hedge fund Theleme Partners.
- He married Akshata in 2009 and the couple have two daughters – Krishna and Anoushka.
- Sunak became a Member of Parliament (MP) in 2015 after he got elected from Richmond, Yorkshire.
- He took oath as MP on the Bhagavad Gita in the Parliament.
- In February 2020 he was designated as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the most important UK Cabinet post. As Chancellor of the Exchequer under Boris Johnson’s leadership, he lit Diwali diyas at his residence on Downing Street.
- A teetotaler, Sunak is a Star Wars fan who wanted to grow up to become a Jedi knight.
- He often speaks of his heritage and how his family reminded him often about values and culture.
- When Boris Johnson ordered the first nationwide lockdown owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, he crafted a massive financial rescue package to safeguard millions of jobs.
- Known to be close to Johnson, Sunak has always cut a contrasting figure from the scandal-ridden former prime minister in his public and private life.
- British tabloids called him ‘Dishy Rishi’ when his stars were on the rise and he was considered to be Johnson’s. But questions over his wife, Akshata’s tax status and wealth along with his involvement in the Partygate Scandal and criticism from fellow Tories about his moves to increase taxes for millions, transformed him to ‘Fishy Rishi’.
- The Sunak couple’s finances recently came under scrutiny when it was revealed that Akshata, still an Indian national, had non-domiciled status in the UK, allowing her to avoid paying tax on her foreign earnings as she planned to return to India to live. Her non-domicile status reportedly allowed her to save around £20 million in taxes on dividends from her shares in Infosys.
- During the campaigning for the PM’s post in the summer of 2022, Rishi Sunak faced criticism on various fronts including his lavish house, expensive suits, and shoes.
- Rishi Sunak has a net worth of over 700 million pounds. Apart from owning a mansion in Yorkshire, Sunak and his wife Akshata own a property in Kensington in central London.
Here are few challenges too:
- Britain’s economy is facing an economically toxic combination of high inflation and rising interest rates. The Ukraine war has sent energy bills soaring for a second time this year. Sterling looks vulnerable on the currency markets.
- Sunak’s first task will be to restore Britain’s international financial credibility after outgoing leader Liz Truss’s plan for unfunded tax cuts and a costly energy price guarantee spooked the bond market.
- A fiscal statement addressing budget shortfall and spending cuts is due on October 31.