RISHI’S RACISM – PART 4: The Indian diaspora’s response | Rock & Art

RISHI’S RACISM – PART 4: The Indian diaspora’s response

In a moment that transcended borders and generations, Rishi’s elevation ignited a wave of pride and reflection among Indians worldwide. Amidst the luminance of Diwali, Rishi’s ascent symbolised more than political achievement; it represented a historic milestone in the journey of a global community.

This article delves into the unprecedented global Indian diaspora´s response to Rishi’s leadership, exploring its impact on cultural identity, historical narratives, and aspirations for the future. Through diverse perspectives and poignant insights, we uncover how this singular event resonates deeply across continents, reshaping perceptions and forging new paths in the interwoven tapestry of global politics.

Global Indian diaspora’s response to Rishi becoming PM

Rishi becoming Prime Minister (PM)! What a monumental achievement and moment of pride for Indians around the world. Amplified and more auspicious as it occurred during Diwali, or as some culturally uninformed white people call it, “Indian Christmas” or if they are more informed “Hindu Christmas.”

I still remember the response of the Indian diaspora around the world to Rishi, as well as in India. I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. Rishi may have been born and bred in the UK, but he still felt like one of their own, no matter which country they now reside in.


A descendant of colonialisation had whipped off the chains and taken over the whip and Indian global media trumpeted this unabashed from the rooftops.

Indian son rises over the empire. History comes full circle in Britain,” proclaimed an NDTV headline.

India was under British rule. Now, a man of Indian origin has become the Prime Minister of England,” announced a Zee TV News anchor.

“It’s motivating to see another Indian success story, and he carries himself with a sense of class,” whooped Ricky Dhillon, an energy company manager, on X.

Nothing could be more auspicious than the appointment of Rishi Sunak on the day people are celebrating Diwali. The reaction was one of admiration, aspiration for similar achievement, and happiness that one of their own has reached such a position,” roared Rajiv Dogra, a former Indian ambassador to the United Kingdom, with NBV news.

The Indian global community’s hearts expanded with the wonders and possibilities this would entail. In simple terms, they went nuts! Rishi was part of the holy trinity: the top three events that made Indians feel they had officially thrown off the shackles of their colonial masters and had surpassed Britain. Alongside landing on the moon’s south side and overtaking the British GDP to break into the highly exclusive top 5 economy club, a position Britain had held since World War 2. India didn’t just enter the top 5, it knocked Britain out of it.


Many Indians have emigrated to Britain, built successful lives, and do not denigrate Britain. But, like the Scots and the Irish who also faced English oppression and love to beat England in football or any sport, achieving victory over their former rulers is always a euphoric achievement.

Over 200 years, Britain had taken £42 trillion out of the Indian economy, (adjusted for inflation), and had turned India from a country that had been one of the top three richest for almost 1,000 years, to what former UN under-secretary and bestselling author Sashi Tharoor described as “The poster child for third world poverty”.

Sorry, I digressed, I have a habit of doing that, especially when talking about colonialism.

Where were we? So Rishi was the holy trinity alongside leap frogging  the British economy and landing on the moon. Just for perspective. Britain travelled and conquered around 90% of the world, but India had reached a location that Britain never could. They were the fourth country after USA, Russia and China to land on the moon, but the first country to land on the moon’s south side! India is the most invaded country ever, even though they have never invaded another country. But the colonised has become the coloniser, reaching a place that no empire in history ever has. And a nice colonisation too, they didn’t have to murder and persecute anyone to land on the moon’s south side.

So the global response was immense, especially in Britain’s former colony, India. A descendant of the British Empire, Rishi’s ancestors were likely slaves or servants to the British, but now the servants had left the fields and taken over the main house.

Social media exploded, even more than usual. Amitabh Bachchan tweeted that India’s viceroy had taken over Britain. Indians are thinking, wow, Amitabh Bachchan! Non Indians are thinking, “What’s an Amitabh Bachchan?” No, it’s not a fancy type of Pakora, as one of my Caucasian friends asked.

RISHI’S RACISM – PART 4: The Indian diaspora’s response | Rock & Art

International movie star or Indian appetiser? Amitabh’s famous tweet.

Ask any Indian over 30 and they will tell you that he is one of the world’s biggest “international” movie stars, although no one outside India or Indians have heard of him.

Racism: Then Vs Now

Now, pampered members of Gen Z, in their twenties or born after the year two thousand, whose main identity is that they’re young, who go out of their way to not be prejudiced except for ageism and smugly brag that they haven’t heard a song or seen a movie because it was released before they were born, who may have not experienced “proper” racism, consider someone asking about their origins as racist. It might be, in some contexts. When someone asked me that when I was growing up, I turned into a demented puppy, excited that someone actually wanted to know about me and wondering if they could become my new BFF! But I do realise some under the radar xenophobes utilise it as an underhand method of getting in a racial slur.

For Gen Z and the millennials on the younger side of the spectrum, Rishi’s ethnic background matters less; they focus more on his policies, as they rightly should. But for those who faced verbal and and even physical abuse based on skin colour, Rishi becoming PM was highly symbolic. Maybe, I’m being a drama queen. Most of my friends growing up were white, and neither they nor their parents made me feel different. However, there were numerous incidents, and any Indian growing up then, knows what I mean.

Seeing someone with brown skin, a child of immigrants, become PM meant the world. When I was younger, Indians didn’t have the elevated status they do now, partly due to six of the top ten tech CEOs being of Indian origin. Despite the majority of NHS doctors being of Indian descent, the stereotypical image of Indians was of corner shop owners, which I’m not denigrating, it’s a respectable business.

On the scale of opinions on Brit Indians, the most positive was they were unfashionable or uncool, mid-range was gawky, nerdy, ill at ease, uncomfortable in their own skin. The other end was they smelt of curry and were “Dirty.” You might miss the increasing, ascending, incremental achievements of certain Indians, but nobody would miss a British Indian becoming PM.

Rishi raised an awareness of identity and instilled national pride that I can pass onto my child and be more confident that she won’t go through the same racism, discriminations and prejudice I had to.

A year ago, life imitated art when my seven year old niece encountered the “mean girl”. The epitome of idolised, aspirational femininity, venerated in films such as “Heathers”, “Clueless” and the aptly named classic “Mean girls.” She was told by one of her white primary school classmates that she wasn’t allowed to play in her porcelain doll clique, because her skin wasn’t “peachy” enough. Insult was added to injury when another of her other white friends was admitted to this sorority, because her skin colour passed the fairness standards, but they couldn’t play together as my niece still wasn’t permitted. Previously my emotions would be a mixed bag of ingredients, smouldering frustration and injustice, peppered with a dash of acceptance and realism. A optimistically naïve part of me had hoped in modern Britain, she might go through her life not experiencing any racism. But my first reaction this time was “How could this happen when the prime minister doesn’t have peachy skin?”

Sure, Britain is one of the most politically correct countries in the world now, but it wasn’t always like this, especially in the 90’s, the less forgiving 80’s and merciless 70’s which my father and his generation had to suffer. The 70’s were a boom era for disco, the 80’s was an eye catching decade for Lycra, colourful clothes and big blowout hair, not so much for racial tolerance and acceptance.

However, real equality for a country is achieving the top job. America still hasn’t had a non-Christian president. (Before you ask, Obama wasn’t Muslim.) And never a fully non-white one. (Before you ask, Obama was half black.) Perhaps, Rishi signifies that Britain has finally achieved equality, seeing as equivalent those they enslaved for two hundred years. (Disclaimer: I’m not including Brexit.)

Rishi’s influence on the next generation of the global Indian community

To Indian parents everywhere, this is what happens when you don’t force your children to do medicine and let them follow their own interests. They become prime minister!

The above paragraph was targeted at my parents, who are still hoping that I don’t write permanently and want me to remain in banking and finance as it’s a safe job. Every time I publish an article, they show scant regard or interest for its content or success, (or lack of it) they just say “That’s nice. But you’re not doing this full time are you?”

For a generation of kids, you’ll have an alternative if you don’t get the grades for medicine, engineering or law. Rishi has made it socially acceptable to enter politics. In fact, there are more Indian origin MP’s now than ever before.

For a generation of Indian parents, you can tell your child to follow their passion. Look where it led Rishi…

You can tell them, that they can do anything they puts their mind to and really mean it.

When I took my A levels, I had a choice. I hated physics, chemistry and biology, with a passion, I really, really hated them. I struggled to stay awake in the classes. But I loved English, History and politics. So, what did I do? I did what any self-respecting Indian kid in the 90’s with traditional, conventional Indian parents did, ….I took physics, chemistry and biology. So, really no choice at all.

I am not going to be one of those obnoxious Indians who say that they could have easily become a doctor if they wanted, but just decided not to.  Unlike the majority of Indian kids who find a way to overcome adversity to reach the heights of academic prowess, I surprisingly, didn’t get the grades I needed to study medicine at my first choice university…or any university. Even the dodgy ones in Nigeria that practise on animals. I applied. They said no.

I became that rarest of sad creatures. An Indian kid with Indian parents, one being a doctor, who couldn’t be a doctor themselves. I still lie in bed sometimes overwrought with guilt. After a while the the shame leaves, the regret never goes. It still haunts me to this day.

Rishi was a British Indian man who loved politics. I too was and still am a British Indian man, who also loves politics.

How I could have done with the inspiration of seeing an Indian PM then. My life would have, as I keep telling myself, turned out very differently.

Maybe I too could have become a millionaire, married to a billionaire, with billionaire in-laws. Maybe I too could throw lavish, in vogue parties, for the uber trendy Sloane rangers of Kensington and Chelsea, be friends with celebrities, with homes around the world. Instead of being someone who…well…possesses none of the above.

The aftermath of Rishi

Thank you, thank you, thank you Rishi. To a generation of Indians like me, you will always be a source of price that can’t be taken away. You may not rule Britain anymore Rishi (I’m not speaking for every British Indian and despite the other criticisms), but for the time you were in charge, you definitely ruled our hearts.

The main aftermath is the elevated pride, respect and thinking Rishi has done for Indians worldwide than any other singular person has. The elastic has been stretched so far; it won’t revert to its original form.

If nothing else, if it just reduces racism, Rishi will have been a success. If a person makes fun of an Indian now or makes jibes about curry or not being properly British, we can argue, we can’t be that bad, our PM was British Indian.

If an Indian origin can become British prime minister and be in charge of a country that once ruled India, then technically, the global Indian community can achieve anything.

All is not lost Rishi. Unlike the UK and USA, you don’t have to be born in India to be the prime minister. Having parents who were Indian citizens is enough. India has just had its election, but you’re still young, practically a toddler compared to American presidents. So, five years from now, you could once again break the mould. A landslide win wouldn’t be out of the question due to your massive popularity and standing in India. Indian voters will be a lot more accepting and understanding and won’t ask polite but disguised questions about where you’re from originally.

Reflecting on Rishi’s Legacy: The Impact on Working-Class Lives

As we conclude our exploration of Rishi’s tenure as Prime Minister, it’s crucial to acknowledge the profound impact of Tory policies on working-class communities in the UK. While his rise to power symbolised progress for some, for many, it mirrored ongoing economic disparities and social challenges exacerbated by austerity measures.

The legacy of his government leaves behind a stark reminder of the widening wealth gap, reduced social services, and increased hardship for those already marginalised. As we look forward, it’s imperative to advocate for policies that promote equity, inclusivity, and genuine societal progress, ensuring that the voices of the working class are heard and their struggles addressed.