India’s own Rishi
Big disclaimer - The story described in ‘Rishi Sunak - the Rise’ (originally titled ‘Going for Broke’) ends in 2020. Just as COVID struck! So if you're wondering whether the book must be read at all - given that much more material about Sunak, now the Prime Minister of UK, has emerged - let me assure you that the author gives us perspectives from many who knew Sunak in his early years and traces the years well.
Indians, who are eager to claim Sunak as one of their own, will be delighted to find gumption, hustle and grit in Sunak's lineage. His maternal grandmother Sraksha, risked leaving her husband and children behind in Tanzania to put down roots in England. Much later, affable parents Yashvir and Usha offered solid footing, making friends thanks to their hospitality in Spindlewood Close, where Sunak grew up playing French cricket! Here are our Bookstrapping insights into the book.
1. A lifelong teetotaller (save for a couple of shots to ease his nerves before the wedding) Sunak once described the concentration of creativity and innovation in Silicon Valley as ‘intoxicating.’ Fellow students also reminisce that he was an occasional player of ‘poker.’ Nice!
2. Common college friends remember Akshata, Sunak’s wife as a non-flashy idealist at Stanford. This agrees with everything we know and revere in her parents Sudha and Narayan Murthy. Add to that the utter simplicity of the wedding and we are once again reminded of the need to be humble.
3. ‘Parliament benefits from members who have experience outside of politics’ believes Sunak. We agree. Rishi Sunak’s corporate work with part-activist, part wrangle-minded Chris Hohn was an audacious, rough and bold learning time for him.
4. Sunak’s love for investment banking is because ‘it holds you directly accountable and gives you nowhere to hide!’ He cherishes this and takes nothing for granted even in his political work. Touche!
5. For a non-British reader, the narrative of Sunak’s work as Secretary of Treasury under senior British Pakistani politician Sajid Javid, their working equation and the torpedoing events that led him to eventually succeed the latter at No.11 Downing Street offers novel insights.
Painting a flawless portrait of Rishi Sunak is probably the reason why readers will feel that ‘something is missing’. There is no mention of the classic follies of youth or the swagger of fat young paychecks.
At a personal level, Indians have baffled the world by considering Sunak as an accomplished son in law. In our eternal collective wisdom, we are, amorphously, discreetly proud of him and this book offers more reasons to be so. Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta is a columnist and bestselling biographer. She is credited with the internationally acclaimed Red Dot Experiment, a decadal six-nation study on how ‘culture impacts communication.’ On Twitter @OfficialReetaRG.