2022: tumult that led to the first Indian-born British Prime Minister

LONDON: A politically and economically tumultuous 2022 has resulted in a historic first for the UK as an Indian descent Rishi Sunak took office at 10 Downing Street as the country’s first non-white Prime Minister.
At 42, the British Indian leader is also the youngest in 200 years and took a strong pro-India stance shortly after being elected leader of the Conservative Party on Diwali.
“The Prime Minister said he was a visual representation of the historic ties between the UK and India, and intended to build on that relationship to develop ever closer ties between our two countries.” , said Downing Street’s reading of Sunak’s introductory phone call with Prime. Minister Narendra Modi.
He edged closer to the Diwali deadline of his former partygate scandal-hit boss Boris Johnson to land a much-anticipated date. India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) being abandoned a few days before. Sunak has since said the UK is “delivering a new FTA with India”, with the sixth round of talks taking place in New Delhi this month.
The political turmoil unleashed by her predecessor, Liz Truss – the UK’s shortest prime minister forced to resign following a disastrous unfunded mini budget – resonated throughout the bilateral relationship when her minister for Interior, Suella Braverman, threw the FTA talks into disarray. with misguided attacks on Indians as “visa overstayers”.
Sunak’s reappointment of his Indian-born colleague to his cabinet in the same post was accompanied by some soothing measures, with the launch of the UK-India Young Professionals Scheme shortly after the first meeting between Prime Ministers Sunak and Modi at of the G20 summit in Indonesia.
“I’m glad that even more of India’s brightest young people now have the opportunity to experience all that life in the UK has to offer – and vice versa – making our economies and societies richer,” Sunak said, referring to the reciprocal scheme to be launched in early 2023. It will allow 3,000 Indian graduates between the ages of 18 and 30 to access visas each year to live and work in the UK until two years, with a similar offer for UK graduates.
This is one of many highlights for Indian students in the UK, which have overtaken China for the first time as the largest cohort of international students. However, with the rise in the number of migrants, there are growing rumors about the crackdown on international students, something education chiefs have warned against and which will remain an issue on the watch list. of 2023.
Another key outcome of this very important first Modi-Sunak bilateral meeting, confirmed by India’s new High Commissioner in the UK – Vikram Doraiswami, who also became the first Indian diplomat to present his credentials to King Charles III.
The new monarch ascended the throne after suffering a huge loss when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II – Britain’s longest-serving monarch – died on September 8, which sparked a global outpouring of grief and a saw thousands of people queuing for days to pay their respects while she lay in state at Westminster Hall in London.
President Draupadi Murmu represented India at the Queen’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey in London, which was followed by a burial ceremony at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Charles has since resumed his duties as monarch and will be officially crowned in a grand coronation ceremony scheduled for May 6, 2023.
While his son and heir Prince William will be by his side, the role his youngest son Harry will play will remain to be seen following a series of dramatic racism allegations and media attacks in a new documentary called ‘Harry and Meghan”. ‘. It came amid the resignation of a senior Buckingham Palace official over a racial row, condemned by the palace in a rare intervention to say ‘racism has no place in our society “.
While the year was dominated by turbulence, there were also moments of celebration – including the gala events to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June and also the 75th anniversary of the independence of the India, highlighted by the Navy ship INS Taringini docking on the shores of England for Independence Day. festivities in August.
Geetanjali Shree has made history as the first Indian author to win the International Booker Prize for her Hindi novel “Ret Samadhi”/Tomb of Sand” for 2022.
Meanwhile, the ongoing battle to extradite economic offenders wanted in India for fraud and money laundering was making slow progress through the UK legal system.
Fugitive Diamond Dealer Nirav Modi, wanted in the alleged $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) loan scam case, has lost a major appeal against his extradition on mental health grounds and is due to be extradited by next month . However, delays are expected if Modi launches a human rights appeal in Europe or seeks asylum as in the case of former Kingfisher Airlines chief Vijay Mallya who is believed to be caught up in the process. confidential asylum from the UK.
Sanjay Bhandari, wanted for tax evasion and money laundering, is also continuing to appeal against his authorized extradition to Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.
Overall, the Collins Dictionary’s Word of the Year “permacrise” – a prolonged period of instability and insecurity – best describes 2022, given political upheaval and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis due to the war in ukraine and the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.


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