Next to the residence of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom number 10 Downing Street is the residence of the second most powerful politician in the country. He is a young man named Rishi Sunak. He is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In his brief time in the office he has impressed the people of the country with his deft handling of the economic crisis caused by the Covid19 pandemic. Addressing the parliament with utter confidence he put in place a raft of measures to help businesses and millions of jobs at stake. Rishi was born in the UK and his parents were from Kenya. Like tens of thousands of others, Rishi’s parents emigrated to Kenya from India. The Indian migration mainly from the states of Gujarat, Punjab and Goa to the East African countries is a saga of adventure, enterprise and nation building of which legends are made. The countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia were transformed into modern states by the Indian settlers. They also brought with them their ancient traditions and heritage. This heritage was passed on to Rishi Sunak’s parents’ generation who in turn brought them to the United Kingdom. They in turn passed their heritage on to Rishi’s generation. And so the people of the United Kingdom witnessed a sight which is extraordinary. On the occasion of Diwali Rishi stepped out of his door at 11 Downing Street and laid out a rangoli and lit four lamps and then he went back in. It was a symbolic act whose impact is as great as perhaps Gandhij’s picking of a handful of salt to start the Satyagraha movement. What would Winston Churchill make of this, an Indian in the second most powerful position of Great Britain lighting the Diwali lamps? Would any of Indian’s great freedom fighters have ever thought that a day will come when one of their descendants will be holding the purse of the nation that ruled over them for 200 years? But it is not just Sunak, Priti Patel who holds the powerful position of the Home Secretary is also a child of Ugandan Indian parents. This is how the Kaal(time) chakra moves. A thousand years of subjugation and plunder of India could not extinguish the timeless heritage of the country. A new dawn is seeing the Indian diaspora playing a vital role in the running of many countries. The secret to their success is that they assimilate well with the host countries, They do not try to impose their values on others and they remain loyal citizens.
The Diwali messages by the Prime Minister Borris Johnson and Prince Charles testify to this positive image of Indian’s abroad. Borris Johnson congratulated Hindus, Sikhs and Jains for the way they responded during the pandemic. Free food distribution to the poor and to the hospital staff, the role of the Indian doctors and other professionals were an inspiration he said. Just as Lord Ram and his wife Sita defeated the forces of evil, we shall defeat this pandemic, he said. In his jolly way he said, have the odd samosa and sweets in celebrations. Prince Charles in his message said he was so touched by the generosity of the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities. He said that the Indian community was indispensable to the country. He expressed his heartfelt appreciation of the community. He ended his message by lighting a candle.
In ancient times Indian’s took their civilization to almost all the continents of the world. A new assertive India and the huge Indian diaspora abroad can do the same, that is share all that is best in their ancient heritage with the world.