Indian-origin Rishi Sunak is UK’s new finance minister

In a high moment for the Indian diaspora in the UK, Indian-origin Rishi Sunak has been appointed Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer and head of Her Majesty’s Treasury. Mr Sunak’s appointment followed the sudden resignation of his predecessor Sajid Javid.

Mr Sunak, who is the son of first-generation Indian immigrant parents in the UK, had served under Mr Javid as chief secretary of the Treasury Department before his appointment on February 13.

Mr Javid’s resignation surprised many in the political circles, especially at a time when the Treasury is scheduled to produce the next budget in less than a month.

The 39-year-old Sunak is the son-in-law of Infosys founder and IT billionaire N.R. Narayana Murthy.

Mr Sunak has never led a government department before and presenting a new budget as his first task in the office is a tough job even for a seasoned politician, although he is qualified and familiar with the Treasury operations.

Treasury was closely watched by the prime minister office’s when Mr Javid was at the helm, and this could be one of the reasons for his resignation, people familiar with latest developments said. The interference impinged the long-standing tradition of independence of the Treasury Although some cloud over his resignation remains, Mr Javid’s remarks in the media show that he was unhappy with the current affairs. He had said “no self-respecting minister” could accept.

However, Mr Sunak did accept the position and must have been apprised about the terms that his predecessor could not accept. His experience as a junior cabinet minister would no doubt come in handy but he will have to wait before he gets to pick his staff, at least for now.

Mr Sunak, who became the second-youngest to hold the post after George Osborne, saw a meteoric rise in his career in a short span. After obtaining an Oxford degree in politics, philosophy, and economics, he joined an MBA program at Stanford, United States. He then briefly worked at Goldman Sachs as an analyst.

In 2009, Mr Sunak married Akshata Murthy, the daughter of Infosys founder Narayana Murthy. The couple has two daughters.

 

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