Academics have raised concerns regarding the official, apolitical framing of such eventsJesusgreen / Wikimedia Commons

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attended a scriptural recital in Jesus College yesterday (15/08), marking Indian Independence Day. Sunak visited the college “not as Prime Minister, but as a Hindu”, he said. The event, which was not publicised ahead of time, met online criticism from a number of Cambridge fellows.

The religious ceremony attended by the PM was led by Indian spiritual preacher Morari Bapu. As reported by Indian outlet The Economic Times, the Ram Katha ceremony commenced last weekend with a short speech from Barbados-born Sonita Alleyne, the college’s first female master, and will continue until later this weekend.

College members were notified of the Ram Katha schedule on August 9th via email, but this message omitted any mention of the planned guests.

The Times of India reported that Sunak, in addition to offering food to attendees, emphasised his own family history. “Today, I want to say thank you to the generation who worked day and night for our education and our today… now is the time for our generation to give back,” he said at the event.

Nicholas Guyatt, a fellow of Jesus College, commented that he would have “protested the shameful actions of his wretched government,” had staff been notified in advance of Sunak’s visit. “Fellows/students were given no notice that Rishi Sunak was going to appear,” he noted. “The event was presented to us as wholly religious and apolitical.”

Professor of Postcolonial Studies Priyamvada Gopal took to Twitter to express her disappointment: “Cambridge colleges are used as political Trojan horses.”


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A Jesus College spokesperson told Varsity: "The event is an external, commercial booking and income from such events supports the College’s educational and academic mission. Neither the College nor the University has any involvement in the organisation or financing of the event."

"We understand the PM was visiting in a personal capacity. Any other queries regarding the visit should be directed to the Ram Katha organisers. We pride ourselves on our hospitality and friendliness. It has been fantastic to be able to welcome so many new people to Jesus College via this event," the spokesperson continued.