“Indian Origin Leaders Around the World Governing Nations”

-Penned by Pranita & Vishal

It’s a “Big Day,” says Indian Americans as Rishi Sunak is announced to be the next Prime
Minister of the United Kingdom. Rishi Sunak’s inauguration as the first Indian-origin Prime
Minister of the United Kingdom is a source of national pride and evidence that Indians can
govern nations, corporations, and international organizations. Nevertheless, this is not the first
time a person of Indian origin has held a prominent political post. Let’s examine the ups and
downs that various Indian-origin leaders have experienced in the past in countries across the
globe.
→Kamala Devi Harris | Vice President of the United States
Kamla Devi Harris was elected as the 49th Vice-President of the US and assumed office on 20
January 2021. She is the first female and second person of color in the history of the entire US to
be the Vice-President. The journey was not easy after Joe Biden was announced as the
presidential candidate by the Democratic party; her name was the front-runner for the Vice-
President. She faced competition from Valdez Venita Demings, also a person of color and
experienced in law enforcement, but she successfully won the campaign because of her vast
experience in different reform committees and domains. She started her career as the District
Attorney in Alameda County, California. She worked on the state Unemployment Insurance
Appeals Board and later at the California Medical Assistance Commission before becoming the
District Attorney of San Francisco (2004–2011). She has worked on many public safety issues
and reforms, including violent and non-violent crimes, including the Death penalty. In 2011 she
was elected as Attorney General of California, and there she worked on consumer protection,
privacy rights, LGBT rights, planned parenthood, sex crimes, and criminal justice reforms. In
2017 she ran for the US Senate and defeated Sanchez, capturing over 60% of the vote, carrying
all but four counties. There she was a member of the Committee on the Budget, Committee on
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Select Committee on Intelligence, and Committee
on the Judiciary.
After she became the VP, she worked on major economic decisions, including addressing the
southern border crisis, where she launched a “call to action” plan to counter the emigration from
Mexico and Central America. As her direct power to break any ties to senate voting, she cast
more than 15 votes in the year 2021 alone, making new records. She cast her vote to help pass
the American Rescue Plan, which aimed at passing a nearly $2 trillion COVID relief stimulus
bill. As one of her achievements, she also became the first woman to be (Acting) President of the
United States, however brief it was. She has been heavily involved in the fight for voting rights

legislation. During high-profile appearances, she spoke forcefully of the need to pass the John
Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. Abortion rights have long
been a prominent issue for Harris in her campaigns, and she has been more visible on this topic.
Her discussions with state lawmakers have been intense about how to respond to the Supreme
court overturning old abortion laws. Recently she voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act of
2022, which aims to curb inflation by reducing the deficit, lowering prescription drug prices, and
investing in domestic energy production while promoting clean energy. She is a strong leader
and also has a communication and leadership style that is empathic and authentic. She is
inspiring lots of women and girls around the globe to be the firsts in the fields least explored by
them.

→ Antonio Costa | Prime Minister of Portugal
Antonio Costa, a lawyer and politician, was elected as the 119th and the current Prime Minister
of Portugal on 26 November 2015. He has been the Minister of Justice, Minister of Internal
Administration, and Mayor Of Lisbon previously. Costa is half Indian and half Portuguese. He
has Goan origin and is lovingly called Babush, which in Konkani means “young loved one”.
He is also known as the Gandhi of Lisbon for his work as mayor of Portugal’s capital city in
turning around a crime-infested neighborhood. Since becoming the Prime Minister, he has not
only hosted Modi for a fully Vegetarian Gujarati lunch, he has also announced a 4 million Euros
joint fund with India for the promotion of Science and Technology. Modi and Costa have signed
11 bilateral agreements, including cooperation in outer space, double taxation avoidance,
nanotechnology, improving cultural ties, youth and sports, higher education, scientific research,
and setting up a Portugal-India Business Hub an Indian Chamber of Commerce here. Costa also
sided with India in the UN Security Council to support India’s bid for permanent membership of
the UNSC.
As a member of the Socialist Party, Costa has pledged to invest more to make Portugal fairer and
more prosperous. 45 Billion Euros have been allocated as a COVID-19 recovery fund in the
2022 budget. Portugal was tense when Costa took office in 2015 due to the troika’s requirements
for a 78 billion euro bailout package. Since then, Costa has been one of the few European
socialists able to cushion austerity while growing the economy and meeting European Stability
Pact standards. He created 350,000 jobs during his first term and halved the unemployment rate
to 12.4%. The Economy of Portugal has been growing at a rate of 2%, which is higher than the
EU average. He made Lisbon a startup hub and brought the Web Summit, which draws tens of
thousands of digital specialists, to the city. Needless to say, he has been a very successful Prime
Minister, and being elected for another term does justice to his leadership.

→Pravind Kumar Jugnauth (Prime Minister of Mauritius)
Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, born on 25 December 1961, is of Indian origin and has a political
career spanning more than 30 years. He was re-elected as the prime minister following the
victory of Alliance Morisien (a coalition of MSM-ML-MAG parties) at the 2019 General
Elections. He joined politics in 1987 and officially joined the MSM in 1990; under the MSM-
MMM government, he became Minister of Agriculture in 2000. In 2009 with the support of the
Labour party, he won the by-elections paving the path for the Labour-MSM alliance for the 2010
General Elections. He was appointed Vice Prime Minister & Minister of Finance in 2010, but he,
along with other ministers, had to resign due to the MedPoint scandal. He also served as Leader
of the Opposition from September to December 2014. And then, he was appointed as Minister of
Information Technology. On 23 January 2017, he was chosen by his party MSM to lead the
National Assembly. He served as Minister of Mauritius during the second half of the Alliance
Lepep’s mandate, concluding with general elections in November 2019.
Mauritius was the country with the highest risk of exposure to Covid-19 in the African Region.
In the strong leadership of PM Pravind Jugnauth, the country’s borders were closed when the
initial cases of Covid-19 were detected. Being a small country, it required medical support and
vaccines to survive the pandemic. PM Jugnauth’s relations with India helped them procure more
than 400000 vaccine doses and Hydrocloroquine (HCQ) tablets. The PM Pravind Jugnauth
visited India for an 8-day trip from 17 April to 24 to cement the bilateral ties between the two
countries where he participated in the Ground-Breaking Ceremony of the WHO-Global Centre
for Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar on 19 April and the Global Ayush Investment and
Innovation Summit in Gandhinagar. In January, Indian PM Narendra Modi and Jugnauth
inaugurated a $45-million social housing project with 956 units. They launched work on a solar
power plant and a civil service college to be built with Indian aid of more than $500 million. PM
Jugnauth is praised for his strong leadership and role in effectively managing the covid pandemic
with clear and effective communication and intense involvement with WHO.
→ Chandrikapersad Santokhi | President of Suriname
Politician Chandrikapersad “Chan” Santokhi, who was born to Bihari parents in Suriname, was
elected in an uncontested election as the 9th President of Suriname in 2020. In the past, he was a
Member of Justice and Police on behalf of the Progressive Reform Party. He led the popular
December Murder Trials of 2007, which marked the heavy crackdown on crime, especially drug
trafficking, and harsh law and order enforcement. He was dubbed sheriff by Dési Bouterse, who
was later convicted for 20 years of imprisonment in 2019.

However, his tenure as the President hasn’t been pleasant. President Santokhi inherited a failing
nation. After President Desi Bouterse’s ten-year administration, many anticipated the country
would change. In 2020, due to COVID-19, there was a massive contraction of 15.9% in the GDP
followed by a further contraction of 3.5% in 2021. The combination of weak currency,
pandemic, and government mismanagement had an impact. Inflation hit 59.11% in 2021. 2022
didn’t start off great either with the onset of the Russian-Ukraine War. Initially, the Santokhi
administration had great plans including overhauling the country’s tax regime, tightening fiscal
spending, improving public worker efficiency, renegotiating the country’s external debt, floating
the Suriname dollar (SRD), strengthening the central bank’s governance, and implementing anti-
money laundering and anti-corruption governance reforms.To this date most of these plans just
remain promises.
There is a lot of intra-government hurdles that President Santokhi would’ve to eliminate before
being a successful leader. Part of President Santokki’s challenge is that he heads a fragile
coalition government. The government did undertake several programs in 2021, including: the
country’s tax authorities and the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) signed a cooperation
agreement to exchange information; President Santokhi signed a law approving the accession of
Suriname to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC); and the Office of the
Attorney General announced the creation of a Judicial Intervention Team, which will combat all
forms of cross border crime and transnational organized crime. Nonetheless, a lot needs to be
done and the future looks brighter because Suriname is no longer an isolated country. It has a lot
of opportunities around its Oil and Gold Reserves, which is ready to be exploited for the
betterment of economy and the country’s position.
The presence of Indian-origin people at the highest political positions in the world not only
brings pride to the country but also makes the life of Indian people easier. As they are more
recognized, represented, and heard. Also, the inter-country relationships become strong, leading
to bilateral trade, favorable decisions, and synergic growth.
→ References

  1. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-portugal-sign-11-
    pacts-agree-on-4-million-euro-fund-to-boost-research/articleshow/59303214.cms
  2. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/portugal-pm-antonio-luis-da-costa-
    supports-indias-bids-for-unsc-membership/articleshow/60777814.cms
  3. https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/antonio-costa-a-socialist-success-story-in-
    portugal-a-1288837.html
  4. https://blavity.com/5-major-accomplishments-from-kamala-harris-in-her-first-year-as-
    vice-president/
  5. https://www.investopedia.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-kamala-harris-5077701
  6. https://theglobalamericans.org/2022/10/surinames-frustrated-path-to-better-governance/
  7. https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/3/e005372

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