The newly ennobled Jitesh Gadhia, who was formally introduced to the House of Lords on Monday (September 12) as Baron Gadhia of Northwood in the County of Middlesex, began by paying a warm tribute to former prime minister David Cameron.
Gadhia, an investment banker, helped Cameron write his well-received Wembley speech made in November last year when his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi visited the stadium.
“It added to the emotion of the day as it was David Cameron who personally nominated me to join the House of Lords,” the 46-year-old said. “History will judge him to have been a great reforming prime minister, who brought the country back from the financial brink.”
“He was also a great friend of India, having visited the subcontinent three times during his term – which I was privileged to join,” Gadhia recalled. “Moreover, I believe, he did more than any other holder of his office to engage with the British Indian community.”
Gadhia reflected an opinion common among Indians: “He (Cameron) will be a great loss to parliament, but I respect his decision and hope he will remain engaged in public life. On a personal note, I wish him and Samantha all the very best for the future.”
Gadhia, who will take the Conservative whip, was introduced formally to the upper chamber by his two sponsors, Lord Stanley Fink and Lord Dolar Popat, who were all enveloped in heavy ermine on a warm summer’s day.
A copy of the ancient Indian scripture, the Rig Veda, that Gadhia used to swear an oath allegiance to the Queen was edited and published in 1849 by Dr Max Müller, a German
scholar who lived and studied for most of his life in Oxford and was one of the pioneers of Indian, Sanskrit and Vedic studies in the western world.
There was quite a turnout of the great and the good for the lunch which preceded the swearing in ceremony, as well as the reception afterwards on the House of Lords terrace overlooking the Thames.
Those who attended included former Conservative Party chairman Lord Andrew Feldman, who acknowledged the “sage advice” Gadhia had given to him and to Cameron on how to engage with India and with British Indians.
That experience would become even more important in the House of Lords as post-Brexit Britain sought to develop trade links with non-EU countries, especially India.
People like Gadhia were needed in parliament “to help protect our liberal values of diversity in inclusion given the forces at rise across Europe,” noted Lord Feldman. “As well as a big honour, it’s a huge responsibility and we wish him well.”
Other guests included government chief whip, Lord John Taylor; and the former Goldman Sachs chief economist and now treasury minister Lord Jim O’Neill.
Gadhia, who is very much the new boy in school, will get to know other members of the upper house who came to the lunch – Usha Prashar, Meghnad Desai, Shreela Flather, Raj Loomba, Rumi Verjee, Ranbir Suri and Jamie Borwick.
Shailesh Vara and Rishi Sunak came from the Commons, while the world of big business was represented by Jasminder Singh, Phiroz Vandrevala, Surinder Arora, Amit Patel, Ramesh Sachdev, Dr Rami Ranger, Shilen Thakrar and Rishi Kansagra.
The Hindu community was represented by Sruti Dharma Das, head of the Bhaktivedanta Manor, and Jitubhai Patel, chairman of the trustees of the BAPS Neasden Mandir.
In welcoming his guests, Gadhia began on a personal note by remembering “my late father, who passed away three years ago next month. I know just how he would have felt to be here alongside my mother – and my 90-year-old grandmother – but we continue to benefit from his legacy and blessing.”
“The ceremony that you will witness goes back to 1621 when King James I delegated the introduction of new peers to the Garter Principal King of Arms,” he said.
“The 37th holder of that post – Thomas Woodcock – is here with us at lunch. The writ you will hear read out by one of the Clerks of Parliament is the ‘Letters Patent’ signed by Her Majesty the Queen. I will then swear an oath of allegiance and have chosen to do that using the Rig Veda, before signing the Roll of Peers and the Code of Conduct.”
“For those not familiar, the Rig Veda is considered the world’s oldest religious scripture dating back to 1500 BC. I was fortunate to find a 167-year-old manuscript in the original Sanskrit text which I am gifting to parliament after the ceremony.”
At the reception were former chancellors George Osborne and Lord Norman Lamont; and ministers Sajid Javid , David Gauke, Jo Johnson, Matthew Hancock and Richard Harrington.
From the world of business there was Sir Gerry Grimstone, chairman of Standard Life and deputy chairman of Barclays; Ian Taylor, Vitol CEO; Sir Lynton Crosby; Vindi Banga, ex-president of Unilever; Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of the British Council; Gerry Murphy, chairman of Blackstone Europe; and Dinesh Dhamija, ebookers founder.