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Indians in Britain celebrate I-Day

india Updated: Aug 15, 2007 19:07 IST

IANS
Highlight Story

The large minority of Asians of Indian origin celebrated 60 years of India's independence on Wednesday by remembering the days when they arrived in Britain and how the perception of India has changed over the years.

Thousands arrived in this country as refugees or low skilled workers to meet staff shortages. Many faced racism and discrimination, but over the years the Indian community in Britain has grown so much that it is considered one of the most prosperous.

Several Indian community organisations in Southall, Leicester, Birmingham and Manchester celebrated the day with cultural events, and noted how India's growing economy was now manifesting itself with Indians taking over British companies.

Indian High Commissioner Kamalesh Sharma threw a reception at the historic India House in the heart of London. It was attended by several leading personalities of Indian origin, including those who had settled here decades ago and those who had recently arrived as professionals.

Mumbai-born Sir Ghulam Noon, popularly called the 'curry king' for his food empire that supplies millions of readymade Indian food items to supermarkets, was upbeat about his roots and the future of the Indian community in Britain.

Recalling colonial India's partition, he said: "It was traumatic, but many Muslims like my family chose to stay on in India. We were not forced to fit in India, we chose to live there because it was and is our country."

"There is no rivalry here between people of India and Pakistan origin. There are so many shops where both work together in the best of spirits. Whenever there is tension in the subcontinent, there is some tension here, but it has never exploded."

"Indians are as brilliant as Pakistanis. We are the same people. It is like two brothers separated from home. In fact, India would have been a still greater country if it were not partitioned."

Anasudhin Azeez, the Indian-origin editor of Asian Lite, a leading publication catering to a growing British Asian readership, told IANS: "It is payback time for the Empire. The curry has taken over the menu but more than that the presence of Indians or Indian-origin Desis are visible in every section of society."

"They are no more a community hovering around corner-shops and makeshift temples. They are calling the shots in many crucial sectors of British economy and social spheres."

"Within 60 years, members of the British Indian community have established themselves as the most prosperous and best entrepreneurs in Britain."

"They now occupy the highest echelons of British society. The wealthiest man in Britain, Laxmi Mittal, is an Indian. The new generation of Indian entrepreneurs are following the footsteps of people like Lord Swaraj Paul."

"They are even deciding the house prices in London. Their presence in the British market has even tilted the share values. The other communities are looking at them as 'takeover tycoons'. Without Indians, the National Health Service will collapse. Without the arrival of IT experts and highly skilled migrants, British economy will not move an inch."