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'Economic downturn may hit hard Indians in UK'

india Updated: Nov 26, 2008 09:54 IST

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There are "grave implications" of the current economic downturn for 1.5 million people of Indian origin working and living in Britain, according to the Indian Workers Association (IWA).

The IWA cautioned that as in the past, rising unemployment and economic hardships may lead to people directing their anger against migrants, including those who have roots in India.

"Repercussions of this crisis could have grave implications for the migrant population, including the 1.5 million people of Indian origin living in Britain," IWA secretary general Harsev Bains told PTI.

Bains said that according to a recent memo from the Home Office, a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment and ethnic tension was being anticipated in the near future.

"The hardships of the 1930s had turned some Britons against foreigners with the rise of fascism and the cyclic recession of the 1980s gave way to race riots, he said.

"With the opening up of European borders immigration has increased dramatically and with it the electoral base of the parties of the far right.

The IWA, one of the oldest ethnic organisations in Britain, was set up in 1938 to further the cause of India's independence. Over the years, it has been in the forefront of several anti-racism struggles.

The IWA was set up in Coventry but it was the arrival of immigrants from Punjab during the 1950s that led to its expansion all over the UK.