Who is Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata?
India has been paying attention to Rishi Sunak’s rise to power, and not just because he is the first British Asian prime minister.
His wife, Akshata Murty, is the daughter of Narayana Murthy, an Indian businessman who is worth a billion dollars and is known as the “Bill Gates of India.”
Ms. Murty is the heiress to a fortune worth billions of dollars. This year, it came to light that she was a non-domiciled person, which meant she didn’t have to pay tax on her earnings from outside the UK. She later agreed to pay UK taxes on all the money she made around the world.
Even though her family has a lot of money, Ms. Murty came from a poorer background.
In a letter to his daughter that was published in a collection in 2013, her father talked about how he found out about her birth in Hubli, India, in April 1980 from a coworker because the family could not afford a phone.
“Your mother and I were young and trying to get our careers off the ground at the time,” he wrote.
When Ms. Murty was only a few months old, she went to live with her father’s parents so that her mother, Sudha Murty, and father could work in Mumbai.
A year later, Mr. Murthy helped start Infosys, an IT services company that would make him one of the wealthiest people in India.
Ms. Murty’s parents were also very successful, and they taught their two children to value education and work hard. Mr. Murthy said that they don’t have a TV in their house so that they have time to “do things like study, read, talk, and hang out with friends.”
She then went to the private, liberal Claremont McKenna College in California to study economics and French. Ms. Murty then went to a fashion college and got a diploma. She then worked at Deloitte and Unilever and went to Stanford University to get an MBA.
She met Mr. Sunak when she was in college. They got married in 2009 and had two daughters after that.
The 42-year-old started her career in finance in California before starting her own fashion label, Akshata Designs, which released its first collection in 2011. She told Vogue India that she worked with artists in remote Indian villages to make her designs, which were about “authenticity, craftsmanship, and protecting a rich heritage.”
The Guardian, on the other hand, said that the business failed within three years.
Catamaran Ventures, which invests in new businesses and was started by Ms. Murty and Mr. Sunak in 2013, is one of her main business interests.
Ms. Murty is also listed as a director of Digme Fitness, a chain of pay-as-you-go gyms, on Companies House.
The company was put into administration in February of this year because sales fell during the Covid-19 pandemic, even though the company got money for furloughs.
On her LinkedIn profile, Ms. Murty also says that she is a director of New & Lingwood, a store that sells high-end clothes for men.
The latest annual report from Infosys says that she has a 0.9% stake in the company, which is worth about £700 million.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, when the company was told to stop doing business in Moscow, her shares in the company caused a lot of trouble. In April, Infosys told the BBC that it would close its office in Russia.
More generally, the couple’s huge wealth has made some people wonder if Mr. Sunak is out of touch with regular people, especially during a crisis in the cost of living.
Some prime ministers’ spouses, like Theresa May’s husband Philip May, have stayed out of the public eye in the past.
Others, like human rights lawyer Cherie Blair, who kept her high-powered job after her husband Tony moved into No. 10, got a lot more attention. Mrs. Blair’s charity work and book deals often put her in the news on their own.
So far, it doesn’t look like Ms. Murty has tried to be in the news. Instead, recent scandals have put her there.
But since her husband is now the most powerful person in British politics, interest in Ms. Murty will only grow.