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Immigrants from India should learn to assimilate

The countrywide rioting that took place in England a few days ago has shaken the government’s confidence to maintain law and order. Khushwant Singh writes.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2011 23:22 IST
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh
Hindustan Times

The countrywide rioting that took place in England a few days ago has shaken the government’s confidence to maintain law and order. I have faith in the British Conservative Prime Minister’s resolve to put it down with a firm hand. I do not have much faith in the immigrant organisations to put their houses in order. I believe that when a person decides to quit his homeland forever and settle in another country of his choice, he must do his best to integrate with the people of that country where he would like to spend the rest of his life.

He must do his best to befriend its nationals. If he wants to stick to his separate identity, he brings trouble on his own head. It is elementary that he must first learn to speak the language of that country and follow its customs as much as he can. Instead of doing this, most immigrants from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh do their best to maintain their separate identity and enjoy the benefits a Welfare State like Britain gives them. I know quite a few Indians who have settled in different cities of England and have comfortable lives on doles provided by the government. This is both immoral and counter-productive of the goodwill of English people.

When I first went to England in 1934, there were very few Indians living there. There was only one gurudwara in London’s Shepherds Bush and a few Bhatras who went around on cycles selling ties, handkerchiefs, socks etc. They spoke very little English. But wherever they went, kindly, old English ladies would give them tea and snacks. They spent nothing on their food.

Now the population of people of Indian origin runs into thousands. There are a few Indians in the parliament and the House of Lords.

Every large city has Indian restaurants. Many own large properties and live in lavish luxury. It does not occur to them that they owe a great deal to common English people and should do their best to mingle with them. Instead of doing that, their leaders emphasise the need to preserve their distinct Indian identity. The wide-scale violence that erupted suddenly and lasted four or five days should be an object lesson. If they put out their hand in a gesture of goodwill, the English will grasp it with enthusiasm.

Portrait of an artist

You cannot do justice to an artist without seeing his or her painting at an exhibition. Just seeing photographs of their paintings is not good enough. I found myself in the predicament when Gurmit Kaur who specialises in making paintings from photographs, as she did of the Prime Minister and his wife which were widely published in the papers, brought her friend Aarti Zaveri to meet me. Her exhibition of Aarti’s work will be launched in the last week of August.

She is a self-taught artist who taught herself how to paint in her home town Rajkot in Gujarat. She showed me photographs of some of her work. I was most impressed The only word I could think of at the time was ‘powerful’. I reproduce one of her paintings in the hope that you will agree with my verdict.

To Pakistan with Love

We love Pakistan for her Foreign Minister, if for nothing else

And the lovely smile on a lovely face that she could bring,

Her manner sincere, her straight talk, her movements smooth.

And in spite of Pakistani media’s gibberish uncouth,

She is hopefully the face and

voice of Pakistan’s maturity and youth.

The fanatics who would object to her Birkin bag

And in entire womankind find a snag,

The same fanatics in colour whatever, anywhere

Should be declared as diggers of grave

Not only of peace and prosperity

But of their community, religion and country.

Forgive them, O Lord, for they know not what they say,

Perhaps their upbringing teaches them to bite and bray!

(Courtesy: Kuldip Salil, Delhi)

False Test

Several young boys were rounded up by Delhi police for a medical check-up to determine the paternity of a certain teenage girl's baby. Chandulal went in and after a few minutes came out: “Don’t worry, fellows,” he smiled. “They’ll never find out. They’re taking samples from the finger.”

(Contributed by Anirban Sen, New Delhi)

Views expressed by the author are personal

First Published: Aug 20, 2011 23:18 IST