As Rishi Sunak was named the new leader of the Conservatives on Monday, social media and TV channels in India were awash with comments and reactions about Mr Sunak, who has spoken publicly about his Indian roots and Hindu faith.
“It is a moment of pride for India that the country which ruled us for many years has now a prime minister of Indian heritage,” said Manoj Garg, a New Delhi businessman.
Mr Sunak will be the first person of colour to become British prime minister, an accomplishment reflecting that of Kamala Harris, a woman of Indian heritage who became US vice president last year.
Mr Sunak’s grandparents hailed from Punjab state before the Indian subcontinent was divided into two countries, India and Pakistan, in 1947 after British colonial rule ended.
They moved to East Africa in the late 1930s before finally settling in the UK in the 1960s.
Mr Sunak was born in 1980 in Southampton.
His ancestral link is not his only association with India. He is married to Akshata Murty, whose father is Indian billionaire N.R. Narayana Murty, founder of tech giant Infosys.
Mr Sunak’s rise to power in British politics has prompted a sense of pride among Indians.
Indian TV channels appeared starstruck by Sunak’s victory, with New Delhi Television announcing “Indian son rises over the empire”. India Today news channel took a jibe at the UK’s economic and political turbulence, using the Hindi term for someone of Indian background: “Battered Britain gets ‘desi’ big boss.”
Warmest congratulations @RishiSunak! As you become UK PM, I look forward to working closely together on global issues, and implementing Roadmap 2030. Special Diwali wishes to the 'living bridge' of UK Indians, as we transform our historic ties into a modern partnership.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 24, 2022
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi congratulated Mr Sunak on Twitter and said he is looking forward to “working closely together on global issues”.
“Special Diwali wishes to ‘living bridge’ of UK Indians as we transform historic ties into modern partnership,” Mr Modi wrote.
Some said Mr Sunak’s selection was particularly special for the country with its recent celebration of 75 years of independence from British colonial rule.
“Today, as India celebrates Diwali in its 75th year as an independent nation, the UK gets an Indian-origin Prime Minister. History comes full circle,” parliamentarian Raghav Chadha tweeted.
Others celebrated Mr Sunak as a “proud Hindu”, saying he did not shy away from embracing his faith and Indian culture.
They shared videos on Twitter showing Mr Sunak taking his oath of allegiance in 2020 on the Hindu holy book Bhagvad Gita.
Other videos shared on Twitter showed Mr Sunak praying to a cow, considered holy by Hindus, when he was running for Britain’s top job for the first time in August.
In a Hindu ritual conducted in London, Mr Sunak touched the cow’s feet while his wife offered carrots to it.
Mr Sunak also performed “aarti” in front of the cow, a Hindu ritual involving the waving of oil lamps.
Mr Sunak has been public about his Indian origins and love for cricket.
He has also talked about his abstinence from beef on religious grounds.
“I am thoroughly British, this is my home and my country, but my cultural heritage is Indian,” he told reporters in 2020.