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Global Indians: How Indians have suddenly surfaced overseas, big way

Virendra Pandit 

New Delhi: He is a rising star in the United Kingdom and his wife is richer than Queen Elizabeth II!

They are Indian-Britons.

If and when the “poor” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves office in 2021 to resume a lucrative career of journalism, as is being speculated, his successor could be Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) whose wife is said to be richer than the Queen!

Sunak is the son-in-law of philanthropist and billionaire technology czar N R Narayan Murthy, co-founder of Infosys Ltd, which revolutionized the information technology industry.

Murthy’s daughter Akshata, who married Sunak in 2009, is super-rich. According to Guardian, she and her family hold a multimillion-pound portfolio of shareholdings and directorships that are not declared in the official register of ministers’ interests.

Akshata’s shares in Infosys are worth 430 million pounds which makes her one of the wealthiest women in Britain.

Sunak, 40, is Chancellor of the Exchequer since February 2020. He is bound by the ministerial code requiring him to declare any financial interests relevant to his office, and which could conflict with his duty to the public. Ministers must also declare those interests of their close family, including siblings, parents, spouse, and in-laws, which might give rise to a conflict, the British newspaper reported.

But Sunak’s entry in the parliamentary records mentions no family members except his wife and only refers to her ownership of a small, UK-based venture capital company.

The Indian-Briton is expected to put the records straights soon, to clear his path to a possible prime ministership.

In the last decade, several NRIs have come up big way in the countries of their citizenship or permanent residence. The number of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and the Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) across the globe is nearly 32 million. Not only do they share an Indian birth, descent, or origin, they are also India’s best representatives in their respective countries. More than 90 percent of them are highly educated and skilled and many are counted among the league of super-achievers.

The recent Presidential election in the United State has brought forth many Indian-Americans. President-elect Joe Biden’s running mate, Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris, is among them. On November 29, they announced an all-women White Staff team to serve in senior communication roles. This is the first time that the new President’s office will be filled entirely by women.

Among the Indian-American women, the name of Neera Tanden is likely to be announced soon as Biden’s budget chief. A former aide of Hillary Clinton, she is currently President and CEO of the left-leaning think tank Centre for American Progress (CAP) and the CEO of the American Progress Action Fund.

For the first time, more than a dozen Indian-Americans, including five women, won seats in state-level elections in November. Besides, four Indian-Americans were elected to the House of Representatives in these polls.

In the new Biden team, beginning next month, Some Indian-Americans may be appointed to key posts. They include Vivek Murthy and Arun Majumdar. Dr. Murthy, a former US Surgeon-General, was the top advisor to Biden on Covid-19. Now he is expected to be appointed as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Majumdar, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, is the top advisor to Biden on energy issues. A third Indian-American probable is Harvard University economist Raj Chetty who advised Biden on economic issues.

Recently, Biden had appointed more than 20 Indian-Americans in his agency review teams (ARTs) that are responsible for evaluating the operations of the key federal agencies in the current administration to ensure a smooth transfer of power to the successor’s team.