Indian-origin MP Alok Sharma named Parliamentary under secretary of state at the foreign and commonwealth office
India At Large staff
British lawmaker Alok Sharma has been named Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), becoming the second Indian- origin minister in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet.
The 48-year-old MP for Reading West, who had previously served in a special role of infrastructure envoy for India in the David Cameron-led government, was named in the latest set of junior ministerial posts announced by Downing Street recently.
He was first elected to the British parliament in May 2010 and was re-elected in May 2015 from Reading West. In his new role in the FCO, Sharma will work closely with newly-appointed foreign secretary Boris Johnson and is likely to be handed the charge of Indian affairs.
The minister who previously held the position, Hugo Swire, has resigned from the government along with Indian-origin peer Baroness Sandip Verma, who had served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for International Development (DfID) in the Cameron government.
The new Secretary of State in charge of DfID had been announced as Priti Patel last week.
While Patel had been a vocal supporter of Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), fellow Indian-origin MP Sharma had campaigned for Remain and even set up a cross-party group called British-Indians for IN.
Their presence in the Cabinet reflects May’s broader attempt at balancing her Cabinet with pro- and anti-Brexit campaigners as her government begins the process of the UK leaving the economic bloc.
Born in India, Sharma grew up in Earley and Whitley Wood and went to Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning and Salford University where he received a BSc in Applied Physics with electronics in 1988.
Sharma subsequently qualified as a chartered accountant, training with Deloitte Haskins & Sells in Manchester before moving into corporate finance advisory with Nikko Securities and then Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, where he held senior roles based out of London, Stockholm and Frankfurt. Alok advised corporates and private equity firms on cross border mergers and acquisitions, listings and restructurings.
Sharma is currently a governor of a local primary school in Reading. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society for the advancement of the Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce. Previously, he served as a chairman of the political think tank Bow Group’s economic affairs committee. In 2013, he was appointed as the Conservative vice-chairman for BME Communities.
Sharma is married and lives in Reading Borough with his wife, two daughters and his dog Olly.
Pic courtesy: www.aloksharma.co.uk