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#COMMENT: British-Indians have been spectators for too long. It’s time to speak out.

Tushar Chaturvedi argues that apathy among British Indians and other immigration communities is part of the reason for the rise in

anti-immigrant rhetoric. 

Some of the day-to-day urges that one has when following their country through media and interacting and discussing them are indistinct and some clearly exhort one to follow them.

I believe these urges shape our identity and constantly keep pulling us towards what our inner nature dictates.

Indian immigrants share some part of and draw our experiences from that identity.

Some of us are well and truly Anglicized, living the experience that a foreign land brings while others are still in a time warp buried in memories and the identity that their country once gave them before they ‘crossed over’.

Still others follow the notion that they would one day turn suddenly and face westwards by relearning some of the values.

The sheer variety of migrants from India – a country that prides itself on its bewildering diversity – makes the monocle of an observer fall short.

A large number of them would still love to come and work here, stifled for space, time and resources in their own.

The British once saw a similar situation in their own country, running out of land to till and sailing across the world in search of new settlements, resources and opportunities.

This is what brought the country its riches, ultimately attracting immigrants from other countries to work and settle here.

The parallel is significant but for the imperialist mindset of the British compared to the enterprising attitude of most immigrant Indians.

The outcome-focused Indian workers and businessmen are mostly agnostic of the British political discourse, confining themselves to drawing room debates, quietly adding value to the workforce, and trying mostly to recede into the background or gel with it nicely.

On the other hand, Indian culture and communities are thriving in the UK and fuelling growth in a country that waits endlessly to repeat the glory of the Empire while gorging itself on public doles and debt, its hunger satisfied.

What one fails to appreciate is that both settled and migrant Indian workers bring the missing hunger back to this country.

A survey of businesses in the UK in 2014 showed how woefully short they came up sans immigrant workers.  Some of them honestly admitted they would have to shut shop if they could not employ immigrants.

The wily politicians however, sense where the atmospherics lie and are blaring out an anti immigrant stance, fuelling the identity crisis that has gripped Britain since the end of the Second World War.

This anti-immigrant rhetoric has been helped along by the muted political response of most immigrant communities including Indians, who are swayed by a little dose of soft politics – the proposed Gandhi statue in Parliament Square is a prime example, a concession that masks the coalition’s wider indifference towards one of the most influential and enterprising ethnic minorities in Britain.

The educated middle and upper class Indian does have a similar track record of nonchalant political alignment back home.

But hang on. 

India and Indians are changing this track record rapidly.  Even recently, the voting percentage of the Indian electorate matched or exceeded most developed western democracies.

If we as a community truly exemplify our country, we must then unite and express our opinion and cultural identity within the British Diaspora.

We must make ourselves heard for we have been spectators for too long.

– Image courtesy of British Library

{module Tushar Chaturvedi- Author }

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