Rishi Sunak’s rise to No 10 has “sparked celebrations across India”, says Shashi Tharoor in Project Syndicate. But the arrival of a “brown-skinned devout Hindu” in Downing Street points to a “broader, longer-term phenomenon”: the growing prominence of the Indian diaspora across the West. This has long been evident in business. No fewer than 58 of America’s 500 largest firms are run by CEOs of Indian descent, including Microsoft, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), IBM and Starbucks. In politics, big names include US Vice President Kamala Harris, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa and Ireland’s former (and likely future) Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.
Why do so many of us Indians thrive in the West? One factor is our familiarity with the English language. Another is motivation: most first-generation Indian emigrants have “either experienced deprivation or witnessed enough of it to try to escape it”. Still another is our long history of pluralism, which has made Indians at ease with “people of different languages, religions and cultures” – adjusting to the “other” is essential in multinational corporations and politics. The irony is that many of these traits are rooted in values India’s government is today “seeking to suppress”. The ruling BJP party’s “hyper-nationalism” threatens diversity; obedience to this “new national narrative” has come to “trump individual initiative”. The virtues “being hailed in Indians around the world might soon be more apparent in the diaspora than they are at home”.