Akshata Murty steals G20 summit spotlight from Prime Minister in New Delhi

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The attendance of the spouses of the globe’s most powerful figures at world leaders’ summits is routinely marked by awkward photo opportunities and small talk about the often cultural events laid on for their amusement.

Just ask Sir Philip May, who was memorably pictured gingerly waving in a spouse group photo at the 2019 G20 summit in Japan, to which he accompanied his wife, Theresa May, and where every other plus-one was a woman.

Akshata Murty’s arrival in New Delhi for this year’s G20 summit could not have been farther from that tradition on Friday as she and Rishi Sunak swept down the stairs of a jet emblazoned with the Union flag, to be met by Ashwini Kumar Choubey, an Indian minister of state.

On the plane to New Delhi, Mr Sunak pointed to references in Indian newspapers to him as “India’s son-in-law, which I hope was meant affectionately”. The remark highlighted an irony that, for many Indians, Mr Sunak’s primary claim to fame is his marriage into Mrs Murty’s family, who are known across India for the success of Akshata’s father, Narayana Murthy, as a billionaire IT entrepreneur, and her mother, Sudha, for her work as a teacher and philanthropist.

Labelling Mr Sunak as India’s son-in-law would, of course, make Mrs Murty – a highly successful businesswoman in her own right and also a prominent figure in the country – India’s daughter. It was that role that she appeared to relish playing yesterday alongside her duties as Britain’s ‘first lady’. It is not every day that a world leader is accompanied to an overseas summit by a spouse who is returning to her home country.

In this case, the visit comes in the middle of sensitive negotiations over a major trade deal between the UK and India.

Within a couple of hours of stepping into New Delhi’s 93F (34C) heat, Mrs Murty had kicked off her shoes to play football with children at the Indian headquarters of the British Council. The couple also met children learning coding and taking part in literary courses.

Visibly relaxed as she took part in a UK-organised event ahead of the start of the formal programme for leaders’ spouses tomorrow, Mrs Murty looked every bit at home both in the role and in her country of birth.

It is little wonder that Mr Sunak spoke of his excitement “to have Akshata with me as well” as he made his first visit to India as Prime Minister.

At the British Council, the couple were given sports tops bearing their surnames and Mrs Murty said that she planned to wear hers the next time she goes running.

On Saturday, Mrs Murty – presumably having recovered her footwear – will visit a millet field to meet local farmers and scientists, before visiting the National Gallery of Modern Art and then meeting young designers back at the British Council. It is a busy schedule but clearly it is not just India that sees the value of Mrs Murty. This weekend she appears to be one of UK PLC’s strongest assets.
Source: https://news.yahoo.com

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