Indian Man Burns Himself To Death In Language Protest

In this picture taken on November 26, 2022, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party carders and relatives prepare to perform the last rites of Thangavel who self-immolated to protest against Hindi language imposition at Thalzhaiyur village at Mettur in India’s Tamil Nadu state. (Photo by AFP)

 

An octogenarian man burned himself to death in southern India in protest at what he called New Delhi’s attempts to impose nationwide usage of Hindi, a language mostly spoken in the north, police said Sunday.

Language is an emotive issue in India where hundreds of languages and dialects are spoken, but English serves as the main official medium while state governments use regional languages.

According to the most recent census in 2011, fewer than half of Indian citizens speak Hindi – just under 44 percent.

But last month a group of parliamentarians headed by the powerful interior minister Amit Shah reportedly recommended making Hindi the national official language, including for technical education such as medicine and engineering.

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Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken of a “slave mentality” around the use of English, and promoted the use of Indian languages.

But opponents accuse his government of attempting to impose Hindi, causing particular anger in the south.

Most southern Indian languages are Dravidian, a completely different language family to the Indo-European group which includes Hindi.

MV Thangavel, 85, a farmer in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, doused himself in petrol and kerosene and set himself alight, police said.

He was holding a Tamil-language placard reading: “Modi government stop imposing Hindi. Why do we need to choose Hindi over our literature-rich Tamil… it will affect future of our youth.”

Senthil, a police officer who uses only one name, told AFP that Thangavel had killed himself.

“He wrote the banner against central government,” he added.

Thangavel carried out his protest on Saturday outside an office in Salem of Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK party, of which he was a member.

Party leader MK Stalin — who has criticised the Modi government’s language policies — offered condolences to Thangavel’s family but urged others to avoid such extreme protests.

“We must not lose another life,” reports quoted him as saying, condemning the central government’s “domineering attitude”.

“Let’s continue to fight against the imposition of Hindi politically, democratically,” he said. “Don’t let narrow-mindedness spoil a beautiful country of diversity.”

The subject is a long-running political issue — the then ruling Congress party sought to make Hindi the official national language in the 1960s, causing enduring resentment in southern India.

Fire Kills 10 Foreign Workers In Maldives Capital

Firefighters and emergency personnel stand outside a building after a major fire swept through cramped living quarters of foreign workers in the Maldives capital Male on November 10, 2022. (Photo by Abdulla IYAAN / AFP)

 

At least 10 people were killed and several others injured Thursday when a fire swept through cramped lodgings of foreign workers in the Maldives capital Male, the fire service said.

The capital of the archipelago best known as an upmarket holiday destination is one of the world’s most densely populated cities.

Officials said 10 bodies were recovered from the upper floor of a building destroyed in the fire, which originated from a ground-floor vehicle repair garage.


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“We have found 10 bodies,” a fire service official said, adding that it took them about four hours to put out the fire.

A security official said the dead included nine Indians and a Bangladesh national.

Maldivian political parties have criticised conditions for foreign workers.

They are thought to make up about half of Male’s 250,000-strong population and are mostly from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Their poor living conditions were brought to light during the Covid-19 pandemic when the infection spread three times faster among foreign workers compared with locals.

Unidentified Man’s Body Travels 900 Km Undetected In Indian Train Toilet

The decomposed body of an unidentified man, in his mid-30s, was found in a locked toilet of the Amritsar-bound Janseva express train in India.

 

 

Police said Thursday they discovered the dead body of a man that had travelled undetected for 900 kilometres (560 miles) across northern India locked inside a train toilet.

They believe the man boarded the train days before it set off from Bihar state and died inside the lavatory after locking the door.

Railway police officer Ram Sahay told AFP they forced the door open on Sunday after passengers complained of the smell.

The Saharsa–Amritsar Jan Sewa Express had by then travelled for nearly 24 hours from its starting point. The entire journey takes 35 hours.

Indian media said the train was delayed for almost five hours while officers tried to check the dead man’s identity with other travellers before the journey to Amritsar was resumed.

“We still don’t know anything about the man,” said Sahay, who is posted in Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh state where the grisly discovery was made.

“He likely entered the train when it was still parked in the yard and died on his own two or three days before the body was discovered,” he said.

Sanjay Rai, a doctor at the railway hospital, told The Times of India that the man “died after he slipped into a possible coma”.

The authorities have since distributed missing posters of the man around railway stations in Bihar.

Tens of thousands of dead bodies go unclaimed and unidentified in India each year. They are generally cremated by the police after three days, following efforts to identify any friends or relatives of the deceased.

Prosecutors Blame Renovation Firm For India Bridge Collapse

Indian rescue personnel conduct search operations after a bridge across the river Machchhu collapsed in Morbi, some 220 kms from Ahmedabad, early on October 31, 2022. – At least 75 people were killed on October 30 in India after an almost 150-year-old colonial-era pedestrian bridge collapsed, sending scores of people tumbling into the river below. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)

 

Indian prosecutors have blamed a company that renovated a suspension bridge for its collapse at the weekend in which more than 130 people were killed.

Contractors installed heavier flooring during work on the 150-year-old bridge in Morbi but did not replace a rusty main cable.

Police believe the structure snapped due to excess weight when it was crowded with visitors on Sunday, plunging 135 people to their deaths in a river below.

READ ALSO: Modi Visits Site Of Deadly Indian Bridge Collapse

Nine people linked to the Oreva group, a watch and e-bike manufacturing firm that had a contract to manage the bridge, have been arrested on manslaughter charges.

Oreva “hired contractors who were not qualified enough”, public prosecutor Harshendu Panchal told reporters after a remand hearing late Tuesday.

“The main cable of the bridge was not changed during renovation,” he said.

“The police also believe that the weight of the bridge increased due to the four-layer aluminium flooring done by the contractors, which may have resulted in the bridge collapse,” he added.

The 230-metre-long structure, a major tourist attraction in the area, was only reopened last Wednesday after nearly seven months of renovations that are said to have cost 20 million rupees ($240,000).

Authorities in the western state of Gujarat say the proper safety certificates were not obtained before visitors were allowed to return. At least 47 of the victims were children.

Oreva had been awarded a 15-year contract by local authorities to operate and maintain the bridge but investigations have since found it had no prior experience on such projects.

However, Oreva group manager Deepak Parekh reportedly told the court: “It was the will of God that such an unfortunate incident happened.”

He and another Oreva manager, along with two contractors, were remanded in police custody, while five ticket sellers and security guards for the bridge were sent to prison awaiting trial.

Even in a country where infrastructure is often dilapidated, the bridge disaster is one of the worst in decades and has triggered widespread condemnation and demands for accountability.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the accident site on Tuesday and promised a “detailed and extensive inquiry to identify all aspects relating to the tragedy”.

Flags were flown at half-mast in Gujarat on Wednesday and all official and entertainment events were cancelled.

AFP

Modi Visits Site Of Deadly Indian Bridge Collapse

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a joint media briefing at the Hyderadad House in New Delhi on February 8, 2020. Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is on his four-day state visit to India from February 7.
Prakash SINGH / AFP

 

Divers searched for more bodies on Tuesday after the collapse of a newly renovated pedestrian bridge killed 134 people in western India, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the disaster site.

Questions also grew about the possible cause of the catastrophe at Morbi, in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, on Sunday.

Nine people have been arrested on homicide charges over the collapse of the 150-year-old structure.

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The suspension bridge was packed with people celebrating the final day of the Diwali holidays. Forty-seven children were among those killed.

Horrific CCTV footage showed the rickety structure, a popular tourist spot, loaded with people and then suddenly giving way as cables snapped.

Several hundred fell into the river while others clung desperately to the twisted remains of the bridge, screaming in the dark for help.

“I heard screams and a loud thud and then there was silence. Then slowly cries and screams,” survivor Madhvi Ben, 30, told AFP.

Ben said one of her legs was tangled in “a steel rope”, leaving her almost entirely submerged before she managed to break free and be rescued.

Morbi businessman Rafiq Gaffar, whose two nephews aged 12 and 21 died, described the scene as “mayhem”.

“People were crying and wailing. It was a scene from doomsday,” said Gaffar, 45.

“There were bodies floating on the water everywhere and people trapped on the bridge who were frantically calling for help.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday joined other world leaders in sending his “deep condolences”.

There were no further reports of missing people on Tuesday.

As Modi watched, rescuers in inflatable boats drove in circles trying to bring up any objects from the bottom of the river.

“We have not called off the search operation yet as there is always this apprehension there could be victims from outside whose kin are not aware of their whereabouts and haven’t contacted us yet,” said Rahul Tripathi from Morbi police.

The bridge renovations were reportedly carried out by local firm Oreva, whose experience was limited to clocks, e-bikes and other products.

The company could not be reached immediately for comment.

‘Clueless’

Sandeepsinh Jhala, a municipal government officer in Morbi, on Monday said the bridge had not been issued with a safety certificate.

The nine people arrested on Monday on charges of culpable homicide included two Oreva managers and two sub-contractors.

Also held were two ticket collectors accused of selling too many passes — causing the bridge to be overloaded — and three security guards.

“As and when the investigation progresses, names of others associated with the Oreva Group will also be booked,” senior police official Ashok Yadav told reporters on Monday.

Auto rickshaw driver Ilyas Khan Akbar Khan Pathan, 33, lost his wife and two children aged six and three in the tragedy, as well as his sister-in-law and two nieces.

“We found the bodies around four in the morning. My daughter Mahiya had her head buried in the slush and people pulled her out using boats,” Pathan told AFP on Tuesday.

“The police and administration took almost two hours to launch the rescue operation… The authorities were clueless,” he said.

Puneet Pitroda, 35, whose brother and sister-in-law died, told AFP that the authorities were “fully responsible for the tragedy”.

“We will never forget this night,” he said.

Modi To Visit Site Of Deadly Indian Bridge Collapse

Members of India’s Youth Congress take part in a candlelight march in New Delhi on October 31, 2022, to pay homage to the victims who died after a bridge across the river Machchhu collapsed at Morbi in India’s Gujarat state. – At least 137 people died in western India when a colonial-era pedestrian bridge packed with revellers collapsed into the river below, police said on October 31. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP)

 

 

Divers searched for more bodies on Tuesday after the collapse of a recently renovated suspension bridge killed 134 people in western India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi preparing to visit the disaster site.

Questions also grew about the possible cause of the catastrophe at Morbi, in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, on Sunday.

Nine people have been arrested on homicide charges over the collapse of the 150-year-old structure.

The pedestrian bridge was packed with people celebrating the final day of the Diwali holidays. Forty-seven children were among those killed, with a previous overall toll of 137 revised downwards.

Horrific CCTV footage showed the rickety structure, a popular tourist spot, packed with people and then suddenly giving way as cables snapped.

Several hundred fell into the river, while others clung desperately to the twisted remains of the bridge screaming in the dark for help.

“I heard screams and a loud thud and then there was silence. Then slowly cries and screams,” survivor Madhvi Ben, 30, told AFP.

Ben said one of her legs was tangled in “a steel rope”, leaving her almost entirely submerged and struggling to break free.

“I somehow blocked my nose and pulled myself up and released my leg from the wire. I grabbed another wire and climbed the remains of the bridge,” she said.

Morbi businessman Rafiq Gaffar, whose two nephews aged 12 and 21 died, described the scene as “mayhem”.

“People were crying and wailing. It was a scene from doomsday,” Gaffar, 45, said.

“There were bodies floating on the water everywhere and people trapped on the bridge who were frantically calling for help.”

 

Indian rescue personnel conduct search operations after a bridge across the river Machchhu collapsed in Morbi, some 220 kms from Ahmedabad, early on October 31, 2022. – At least 75 people were killed on October 30 in India after an almost 150-year-old colonial-era pedestrian bridge collapsed, sending scores of people tumbling into the river below. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)

 

Indian rescue personnel conduct search operations after a bridge across the river Machchhu collapsed in Morbi, some 220 kms from Ahmedabad, early on October 31, 2022. – At least 75 people were killed on on October 30 in India after an almost 150-year-old colonial-era pedestrian bridge collapsed, sending scores of people tumbling into the river below. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)

 

 

– ‘Apprehension’ –
There were no further reports of missing people on Tuesday.

Rescuers in inflatable boats drove in circles in an attempt to bring up any objects from the bottom of the river.

“We have not called off the search operation yet as there is always this apprehension there could be victims from outside whose kin are not aware of their whereabouts and haven’t contacted us yet,” said Rahul Tripathi of the Morbi police force.

Workers also picked up plastic rubbish from the river banks and were reportedly painting a hospital that Modi was due to visit.

The bridge renovations were reportedly carried out by local firm Oreva, whose experience was limited to clocks, e-bikes and other products.

The company could not be reached immediately for comment.

Jaysukh Patel, chairman of Ajanta Manufacturing, part of Oreva, had cut a ribbon to reopen the bridge on October 26 and said then the span would last 15 more years.

But Sandeepsinh Jhala, Morbi municipality’s chief officer, said on Monday the bridge had not been issued a safety certificate.

Police arrested nine people on charges of culpable homicide on Monday, just as authorities announced an inquiry.

They included two Oreva managers, two sub-contractors and two ticket collectors accused of selling too many passes, which caused the bridge to be overloaded.

Three security guards were also arrested for failing to manage the crowd at the bridge, senior police official Ashok Yadav told reporters on Monday.

 

Bodies are seen on the floor of the government civil hospital after a bridge across the river Machchhu collapsed in Morbi, some 220 kms from Ahmedabad, early on October 31, 2022. – At least 120 people died when an almost 150-year-old colonial-era pedestrian bridge collapsed, a police officer told AFP on October 31, raising the death toll from 75. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)

 

Mourners stand next to the coffins of victims who died after a bridge across the river Machchhu collapsed at Morbi in India’s Gujarat state on October 31, 2022. – At least 137 people died in western India when a colonial-era pedestrian bridge packed with revellers collapsed into the river below, police said on October 31. (Photo by Sam PANTHAKY / AFP)

 

 

“As and when the investigation progresses, names of others associated with the Oreva Group will also be booked,” Yadav said.

He said a team had been formed to investigate aspects of the maintenance and structural safety of the bridge.

Textile trader Puneet Pitroda, 35, told AFP at Morbi’s crematorium on Monday that the bodies of his brother and sister-in-law had been recovered from the river.

“The authorities are fully responsible for the tragedy. They allowed hundreds to gather on the bridge when it had a capacity to hold just a small number,” he said.

“We will never forget this night.”

Nine Arrested Over Indian Bridge Collapse

The scene of the Indian bridge collapse that killed over 100 people. Credit: AFP

 

Nine people were arrested Monday in connection with the collapse of a bridge in western India that killed more than 130 people, police said.

The nine — all associated with a company than maintained the bridge in Morbi — were being investigated for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, senior police officer Ashok Kumar Yadav said in a statement.

AFP

Buhari Mourns 141 Victims Of Indian Footbridge

Rescue personnel conduct search operations after a bridge across the river Machchhu collapsed at Morbi in India’s Gujarat state on October 31, 2022.  AFP

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has mourned the 141 victims of the footbridge that collapsed in India.

Many of the victims, comprising women, children, or elderly, died on Sunday after the bridge collapsed in Morbi, just a week after repairs.

The Nigerian leader in a statement on Monday by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, commiserated with the families of the victims and the government and people of India.

READ ALSO: At Least 75 Killed In Indian Bridge Collapse

“On behalf of the government and people of Nigeria, I wish to express my profound sorrow and sincere sympathy to the Prime Minister, families of the deceased, and the people of India following this tragic incident,” the President was quoted as saying.

Apart from those that died, 177 of the 500 have been saved and teams are searching for several others who are still missing.

President Buhari also prayed for recovery of all the persons who suffered injuries.

Over 130 Killed As Bridge Collapses In India

 

At least 132 people died in India when a colonial-era pedestrian bridge packed with revellers collapsed into the river below, police said Monday.

Authorities said nearly 500 people were celebrating the last day of the Diwali festival on and around the nearly 150-year-old suspension bridge in Morbi when supporting cables snapped after dark on Sunday.

CCTV footage showed the structure in the western state of Gujarat swaying — with a few people apparently deliberately rocking it — before it suddenly gave way.

The walkway and one fence crashed into the river, leaving the other side dangling in mid-air and hundreds of people in the water.

“I saw the bridge collapse before my eyes,” said one witness who worked all night on rescue efforts, without giving his name.

“It was traumatic when a woman showed me a photo of her daughter and asked if I had rescued her. I could not tell her that her daughter had died.”

Another witness named Supran said the bridge was “jam-packed”.

“The cables snapped and the bridge came down in a split second. People fell on each other and into the river,” he told local media.

News reports showed footage of people clinging onto the twisted remains of the bridge or trying to swim to safety in the dark.

Most Indians cannot swim and another Morbi resident, Ranjanbhai Patel, said he helped pull out those who had been able to reach the banks.

“As most of the people had fallen into the river, we were not able to save them,” he said.

Senior police official Ashok Kumar Yadav told AFP on Monday morning that the death toll stood at 132.

Sources said that most of the victims were women and children.

One local MP, Kalyanji Kundariya, told media he had lost 12 family members in the accident, including five children.

The bridge over the Machchhu river, a popular tourist spot, had only reopened several days earlier for the local Gujarati New Year holiday after months of repairs.

‘No certificate’

Authorities launched a rescue operation following the collapse, with boats and divers searching the river all night and on Monday morning.

P. Dekavadiya, the head of police in Morbi, told AFP that more than 130 survivors had been rescued.

The suspension bridge, 233 metres (764 feet) long and 1.5 metres wide, was inaugurated in 1880 by the British colonial authorities and made with materials shipped from England, reports said.

The Gujarat tourist department describes the “grand suspension bridge” some 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of the state’s main city, Ahmedabad, as an “artistic and technological marvel”.

Sandeepsinh Jhala, Morbi municipality chief officer, said that after the recent renovation the bridge had not been issued with a safety certificate.

District police have launched an enquiry against the contractor, Yadav said.

Reports said the work had been carried out by a unit of the Gujarat-based Oreva group, which describes itself as the world’s largest clock manufacturer, and also makes lighting products and e-bikes. It could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was touring Gujarat, his home state, said that he “may rarely have experienced so much pain in my life.”

Moscow and New Delhi have enjoyed close relations for decades and the Kremlin said in a statement that Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences.

Accidents from old and poorly maintained infrastructure including bridges are common in India.

In 2016 the collapse of a flyover onto a busy street in Kolkata killed at least 26 people. Five years earlier at least 32 people perished when a packed bridge collapsed in the hill resort of Darjeeling.

UPDATED: At Least 75 Killed In Indian Bridge Collapse

The Indian flag

At least 75 people were killed on Sunday in India after an almost 150-year-old colonial-era pedestrian bridge collapsed, sending scores of people tumbling into the river below.

Authorities said nearly 500 people including women and children were celebrating a religious festival on and around the suspension bridge in Morbi in western India when cables supporting it snapped soon after dark.

This brought the rickety structure in the western state of Gujarat crashing down into the river, spilling scores of people into the water while others clung desperately to the wreckage.

“Seventy five people have died,” a district civil official told AFP over phone. He said most the victims drowned.

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Other unconfirmed media reports put the death toll at around 90.

Brijesh Merja, a minister in the Gujarat government, said more than 80 people have been rescued.

The bridge over the Machchhu river around 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of Gujarat’s main city, Ahmedabad had only re-opened several days earlier after months of repairs.

“People fell on top of each other after the bridge collapsed. People had flocked to the bridge for rituals and because of the Diwali festival. Many children and women were among the victims,” one witness told local media.

News reports showed videos — which could not be independently verified — of people hanging onto what remained of the bridge or trying to swim to safety in the dark.

 ‘No certificate’

The suspension bridge, 233 metres (764 feet) long and 1.5 metres wide, was inaugurated in 1880 by the British colonial authorities and made with materials shipped over from England, reports said.

Broadcaster NDTV reported that it reopened on Wednesday after seven months of repairs despite not having a safety certificate, and that video footage from Saturday showed it swaying wildly.

Authorities on Sunday launched a rescue operation following the collapse, with boats and divers deployed to search for missing people late into the night.

Dozens of soldiers from Indian Army and Navy were also called for the rescue operation.

Authorities were also planning to stop water supply to the river from the nearby check dam and use pumps to de-water the river to speed up the search operation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was touring his home state of Gujarat at the time, announced compensation for those killed and injured in the accident.

Modi “sought urgent mobilisation of teams for rescue (operations)”, his office tweeted.

“He has asked that the situation be closely and continuously monitored, and (for authorities to) extend all possible help to those affected.”

The Gujarat government on its official website describes the bridge as “an engineering marvel built at the turn of the century”.

Accidents from old and poorly maintained infrastructure including bridges are common in India.

In 2016 the collapse of a flyover onto a busy street in the eastern city of Kolkata killed at least 26 people. Rescue workers pulled out nearly 100 people injured from under huge concrete slabs and metal.

In 2011 at least 32 people are killed when a bridge packed with festival crowds collapsed in northeast India, about 20 miles (30 kilometres) from the hill town of Darjeeling.

Less than a week later around 30 people were killed when a footbridge over a river in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh collapsed.

In 2006 at least 34 people were killed when a 150-year-old bridge collapsed on a passenger train in the railway station in the eastern state of Bihar.

AFP

U17WWC: Ahmed Musa Promises N3m To Flamingos After Winning Historic Bronze

Nigeria’s Flamingos celebrate after defeating Germany to clinch the consolatory bronze medal at the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in India on October 30, 2022. [email protected]_SuperFalcons.

 

Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa has promised a cash reward of N3 million to the Flamingos after they clinched the bronze medal at the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. 

Nigeria defeated Germany 3-2 via penalties after normal time ended 3-3 in the Indian city of Mumbai on Sunday.

“Three million waiting for Flamingos in Abuja,” the former Leicester City man wrote in a reply to Super Falcons’ tweet celebrating Nigeria’s historic feat.  “Congratulations.”

Sunday’s victory for Nigeria made them the second African side to have achieved the feat. Ghana clinched the bronze medal at the 2012 edition of the tournament.

Nigeria, placed in Group B of the competition, finished as runners-up after a loss to Germany and victories over New Zealand and Chile. In the quarter-finals, the Flamingos beat the US to reach their first-ever semi-final.

They, however, slumped to defeat against Columbia to set up the third-place match with Germany.

Nigeria went 3-0 up but the Europeans raced back to the game, scoring thrice in seventeen minutes to peg the Flamingos back. For the third time in the tournament, Coach Bankole Olowookere’s team took to the spot kick.

The win over the Americans came after regulation time ended 1-1 while the loss to Colombia came in a 5-6 defeat on penalties. Nigeria’s last penalty shootout in the cadet championship, however, ended in a 3-2 sweet revenge for the West Africans who lost to Germany in their opening game. 

Forward Opeyemi Akajaye deservedly won the Player of the Match gong for her stellar showing on Sunday, making it the third time she scooped the prize since the competition started earlier in the month.

The team is expected back in the country later in the week.

Rishi Sunak, Set To Be The UK’s First Hindu PM

New Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Rishi Sunak waves as he arrives at Conservative Party Headquarters in central London having been announced as the winner of the Conservative Party leadership contest, on October 24, 2022. AFP

 

 

Rishi Sunak, the Conservatives’ new leader, has capped a stunning political comeback that marks a dramatic rise to power for the son of immigrants from Britain’s old empire.

Liz Truss’s political implosion after just 44 days in office allowed the former finance minister to become the first prime minister of colour.

“Indian son rises over the empire,” read a headline on the Indian news channel NDTV, adding: “History comes full circle in Britain.”

At 42, Sunak will also become the youngest prime minister of modern times once he is confirmed in office by King Charles III.

The former hedge fund investor, an observant Hindu, failed in the summer to persuade the Tory grassroots that he was a better option than Truss.

But having correctly predicted her economic agenda would spark turmoil, he was able to throw his hat into the ring for a second time.

After securing the public support of more than half of Conservative MPs, his only remaining challenger Penny Mordaunt was forced to withdraw — following the failure of former leader Boris Johnson’s own bid.

Fabulously rich from his previous career in finance, Sunak faces daunting challenges in power, from an economic crisis to uniting his fractious party.

Some within it remain highly critical of Sunak, viewing him as disloyal for triggering the downfall of Johnson in July.

He has also been mocked as out of touch with Britons struggling with decades-high inflation — perhaps best symbolised by wearing expensive Prada loafers to a construction site visit on the summer campaign trail.

Video footage also emerged of a 21-year-old Sunak — educated at Winchester College, an exclusive private school, and the University of Oxford — talking about his friends.

“I have friends who are aristocrats, I have friends who are upper-class, I have friends who are, you know, working-class,” he says, before adding: “Well, not working-class.”

‘Dishy Rishi’

Rishi Sunak, Britain’s former chancellor of the exchequer and candidate to become the next prime minister, delivers a speech at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London on July 12, 2022. Conservative party said, with 11 hopefuls currently vying for the job. (Photo by Niklas HALLE’N / AFP)

A details-oriented policy wonk with a background in economics, Sunak has sought to present himself as a stable choice at a time of crisis.

An early backer of Brexit, he took over as chancellor of the exchequer in February 2020 — a baptism of fire for the Tory rising star as the Covid pandemic erupted.

He was forced to craft an enormous economic support package at breakneck speed, which he now insists must be paid off with sound fiscal plans.

In India, Sunak is better known through his wife, Akshata Murty. She is the daughter of Indian tycoon Narayana Murthy, the billionaire co-founder of information technology group Infosys.

The Sunaks met while studying in California and they have two young daughters, along with a photogenic dog.

The ex-minister’s Instagram-friendly profile earned him the media nickname of “Dishy Rishi”.

Until last year, he held a US Green Card — which critics said suggested a lack of long-term loyalty to Britain.

And he has been dogged by difficult questions over Murty’s failure until recently to pay UK taxes on her Infosys returns, which opinion polls suggest was viewed with deep disfavour by voters.

Sunak has also been damaged by the scandals of Johnson’s tumultuous premiership.

He ended up with a police fine for breaching Covid rules after joining a birthday gathering for the then-prime minister at Downing Street.

Johnson was also fined following an investigation into the “Partygate” affair.

Along with the controversy over his family fortune, the scandal sullied the reputation of the teetotal Sunak, who admits only to a fondness for Coca-Cola and sugary confectioneries.

Waiter to wealth

Britain’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Conservative MP, Rishi Sunak leaves from an office in central London on October 23, 2022. British Conservative Rishi Sunak on Sunday announced he is standing to be prime minister, just weeks after failing in a first attempt and setting up a potentially bruising battle with his former boss Boris Johnson. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP)

Sunak represents the constituency of Richmond in Yorkshire, northern England — a safe and overwhelmingly white Conservative seat he took over in 2015 from former party leader and foreign secretary William Hague, who described him as “exceptional”.

Theresa May gave Sunak his first job in government in January 2018, making him a junior minister for local government, parks and troubled families.

Sunak’s grandparents were from Punjab in northern India and emigrated to Britain from eastern Africa in the 1960s.

They arrived with “very little”, Sunak told MPs in his maiden speech.

His father was a family doctor in Southampton on England’s south coast, and his mother ran a local pharmacy.

Sunak waited tables in a local Indian restaurant, before progressing to Oxford and then Stanford University in California.

He swears his oath of allegiance as an MP on the Hindu Bhagavad Gita.

He insists his own family’s experience, and that of his mega-rich wife’s, are a “very Conservative” story of hard work and aspiration.