People from both India and Pakistan have made claims and counterclaims about Rishi Sunak’s ancestry, sparking a dispute about his heritage as the head of the Conservative Party and the first Indian-origin Prime Minister of Britain.
The truth, however, is somewhere in the middle, and according to analysts, Sunak’s promotion can be seen as a source of pride for both India and Pakistan, both of which were under British dominion for more than a century.
Sunak, who identifies as a “proud Hindu,” frequently discusses his “Indian heritage” and “where he came from” in his remarks. Sunak claims he never sought to disguise his beliefs, even while engaging in gau puja (cow worship), preparing communal meals at a temple, abstaining from beef, and celebrating Diwali with his family and swearing allegiance to the Bhagavad Gita after becoming an MP. Sunak claims that when completing the UK Census form, he checks the “British Indian” category.
The 42-year-old former lawmaker is a member of the Punjabi Khatri dynasty. From Gujranwala, which is now in Pakistan’s Punjab region, his grandparents had migrated to Africa. Sunak’s father afterwards relocated to the UK.
Punjab was the home of Sunak’s maternal grandparents as well. Dr. Singh, whose family had also relocated from Gujranwala to Ludhiana following Partition, claimed that Raghubir Berry, Sunak’s maternal grandfather, was born and raised in Punjab and later worked as a railway engineer in Tanganyika, a colonial colony in Africa. He wed Sraksha, who was born in Tanganyika. “Sraksha emigrated to the UK in 1966 on a one-way ticket she purchased with the proceeds from the sale of her bridal jewellery. Berry followed soon after and spent a significant amount of time working for the UK’s Inland Revenue Service. In 1988, he received the MBE, or Member of the Order of the British Empire, which is given for exceptional societal contributions. Usha, Sunak’s mother, is one of the couple’s three daughters, according to Dr. Singh.
Sunak has claimed in his speeches that his parents “worked day and night in the UK” to educate him and his brothers and that he did not come from a wealthy household. “My father worked weekends and overtime as a general practitioner (GP) for the NHS. In Southampton, my mother owned a chemist store called “Sunak Pharmacy,” and after school, I carried medications to customers. They gave their everything for us. I’m an immigrant from a family that moved to the UK in search of a better life, Sunak remarked.
“Although I am firmly a British citizen, my religious and cultural ancestry is Indian, and this is my home and my nation. The daughter of Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy and children’s book author Sudha Murthy, Akshata Murthy is my wife, “stated Sunak, who is married to her.