King Charles offers Diwali sweets to Sunak

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The two met in the palace’s lavish 1844 Room, and on a table was a selection of sweets that are eaten to celebrate Diwali…reports Asian Lite News

King Charles, in a goodwill gesture, offered Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Diwali sweets as he performed his duty as head of state and formally appointed the new Conservative leader, the event which also coincided with the occasion of most celebrated five-day “Festival of Lights” celebrated this week by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, marking the triumph of good over evil.

The two met in the palace’s lavish 1844 Room, and on a table was a selection of sweets that are eaten to celebrate Diwali, wrote The Royal Family Channel on its Twitter account.

After Sunak rose to power, the event prompted a sense of pride among Indians. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also offered him “special” Diwali wishes as the “living bridge” of UK Indians.

Sunak, whose parents came to the UK from East Africa in the 1960s, is of Indian descent. His father was a local doctor while his mother ran a pharmacy in southern England, something Sunak says gave him his desire to serve the public.

He will also be the first Hindu to become British prime minister, securing the position on Diwali, the festival of lights that marks one of the most important days of the Hindu calendar. Sunak himself made history in 2020 when he lit Diwali candles outside 11 Downing Street, the official residence of the UK chancellor.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives in Downing Street. Picture by Lauren Hurley / No 10 Downing Street

He has faced challenges over his elite background, having studied at the exclusive Winchester College, Oxford and Stanford universities. He is known for his expensive taste in fashion and has worked for banks and hedge funds, including Goldman Sachs.

Sunak’s election on Monday marks the pinnacle of what has been a speedy rise to power. He was first elected as an MP in 2015 and spent two years on the back benches before becoming a junior minister in Theresa May’s government. Johnson gave Sunak his first major government role, appointing him as chief secretary to the Treasury in 2019 and promoting him to chancellor in 2020.

He was the first person who ‘predicted’ financial problems under Truss. He clashed with the former PM during the previous leadership race, claiming her plan to borrow money during an inflation crisis was a “fairytale” that would plunge the economy into chaos.

Sunak was first elected as an MP in 2015 – for Richmond in north Yorkshire – but rose quickly, and was made finance minister – or chancellor – in February 2020 under Boris Johnson. Sunak was in charge of Covid support cash, the financial aid during lockdowns – including furlough payments and the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme for restaurants.

His wife is Akshata Murthy, the daughter of Indian billionaire Narayana Murthy. He faced controversy over his wife’s tax arrangements.

Over the summer, it emerged Akshata Murthy paid no UK tax on big earnings abroad – which is legal. Sunak defended his wife saying, “to smear my wife to get at me is awful” – but eventually she agreed to start paying extra taxes. It was also found he temporarily had a US green card, allowing him to live permanently in America while he was the UK’s chancellor.

He campaigned for Brexit and deregulation. “Free ports” are one of his long-time favourite ideas: areas near ports or airports where goods can be imported and exported without paying taxes, to encourage trade.

In 2016, he told a group of schoolchildren that he originally wanted to be a Jedi Knight when he grew up. His favourite Star Wars film is The Empire Strikes Back.

However, Sunak faces an enormous task. The UK is in the midst of a deep cost-of-living crisis and soaring inequality. Financial markets are still spooked after Truss’ disastrous economic policy missteps.

ALSO READ: Focus on India-UK ties as Sunak becomes PM

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