England 2 million (2014)
Wales 17,200 (2011)
Scotland 79,000 (2001)
Northern Ireland 2,100 (2011)
2.5% of the UK's population (2011)
|Regions with significant populations|
Throughout the United Kingdom
In particular London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester, Leeds, Glasgow, Preston, Sheffield, Liverpool, Nottingham, Southampton, Bristol, Newcastle upon Tyne, Slough, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Coventry, Belfast
|Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Ravidassia, Baha'i, Islam, Catholicism, Anglicanism.|
|Related ethnic groups|
British Asian, Indian Diaspora, Indian people, Anglo-Indians
Indian Americans, Indo-Canadians, Indo-Caribbeans
The term British Indian (also Indian British or Indian Britons) refers to citizens of the United Kingdom whose ancestral roots lie in India. This includes people born in the UK who are of Indian descent, and Indian-born people who have migrated to the UK. Today, Indians comprise about 1.4 million people in the UK (not including those of mixed Indian and other ancestry), making them the single largest visible ethnic minority population in the country. They make up the largest subgroup of British Asians, and are one of the largest Indian communities in the Indian diaspora, mainly due to the Indian-British relations (including historical links such as India having been under British colonial rule and still being part of the Commonwealth of Nations). The British Indian community is the fifth largest in the Indian diaspora, behind the Indian communities in Nepal, the United States, Malaysia and Burma.
British Indians are socioeconomically affluent and are primarily members of the middle class. A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2011 found British Indians have among the lowest poverty rates among all ethnic groups in Britain, second only to White British.
- 1 History
- 2 Demographics
- 3 Culture
- 4 Social issues
- 5 Notable individuals
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
Middle Ages - 18th century
No one knows the earliest settlement of Indians in Great Britain for certain.
If the Romani, often known by the exonym Gypsies, are regarded as South Asian, then the earliest arrivals may have been during the Middle Ages. The Romanichal (English Romani) and Kale (Welsh Romani) originated in what is now North India and Pakistan, and began migrating westward around 1000 C.E., mixing with Southwest Asians and continental Europeans over the centuries.
Romani began arriving in sizeable numbers in Western Europe during the 16th century.
18th - 19th centuries
People from India have settled in Great Britain since the East India Company (EIC) recruited lascars to replace vacancies in their crews on East Indiamen whilst on voyages in India. Initially these were men from the Indo-Portuguese or Luso-Asian communities of the subcontinent, including men from Bombay, Goa, Cochin, Madras and the Hugli River in Bengal. Later Moslem Bengalis and men from Ratnagiri were hired. Many were then refused passage back and had no alternative than to settle in London. There were also some ayahs, domestic servants and nannies of wealthy British families, who accompanied their employers back to Britain when their stay in South Asia came to an end.
The Navigation Act of 1660 restricted the employment of non-English sailors to a quarter of the crew on returning East India Company ships. Baptism records in East Greenwich suggest that a small number of young Indians from the Malabar Coast were being recruited as house servants at the end of the 17th century, and records of the EIC also suggest that Indo-Portuguese cooks from Goa were retained by captains from voyage to voyage. In 1797, 13 were buried in the parish of St Nicholas at Deptford.
During the 19th century, the East India Company brought over thousands of Indian lascars, scholars and workers (who were largely Bengali and/or Muslim) to Britain, most of whom settled down and took local British wives, due to a lack of Indian women in Britain at the time. Due to the majority of early Asian immigrants being lascar seamen, the earliest Indian communities were found in port towns. Naval cooks also came, many of them from the Sylhet Division of what is now Bangladesh. One of the most famous early Bengali immigrants to Britain was Sake Dean Mahomet, a captain of the British East India Company. In 1810, he founded London's first Indian restaurant, the Hindoostane Coffee House. He is also reputed for introducing shampoo and therapeutic massage to the United Kingdom. By the mid-19th century, there were more than 40,000 Indian seamen, diplomats, scholars, soldiers, officials, tourists, businessmen and students in Britain.
Following the Second World War and the breakup of the British Empire, Indian migration to the UK increased through the 1950s and 1960s. The Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 and Immigration Act 1971 largely restricted any further primary immigration, although family members of already-settled migrants were still allowed. In addition, much of the subsequent growth in the British Indian community has come from the births of second- and third-generation Indian Britons.
Although post-war immigration was continuous, several distinct phases can be identified:
- workers were recruited to fulfill the labour shortage that resulted from World War II. These included Anglo-Indians who were recruited to work on the railways as they had done in India.
- Workers mainly from the Punjab region arrived in the late 1950s and 1960s. Many worked in the foundries of the English Midlands and a large number of Sikh people worked at Heathrow Airport in west London. This created an environment to where the next generation of families do not lose their identity as easily.
- During the same time, medical staff from India were recruited for the newly formed National Health Service. These people were targeted as the British had established medical schools in the Indian subcontinent which conformed to the British standards of medical training.
- During the 1960s and 1970s, large numbers of East African Indians, who already held British passports, entered the UK after they were expelled from Kenya, Uganda and Zanzibar. Many of these people had been store-keepers in Africa and opened shops when they arrived in the UK.
By the early 21st century, the British Indian community had grown to number over one million. According to the 2001 UK Census, 1,053,411 Britons had full Indian ethnicity (representing 1.8% of the UK's population). An overwhelming majority of 99.3% resided in England (in 2008 the figure is thought to be around 97.0%). In the nine-year period between 2001 and 2010, the number of Indian-born people in the UK has increased in size by 43% from 467,634 to around 669,000 (an increase of over 200,000).
|Region of Birth||Percentages|
|UK not specified||0.1%|
|Rest of Africa||3.3%|
|Rest of Asia||2.1%|
Indians have existed in the UK for generations and have long been the country's largest visible ethnic minority group. In 2006 there were at least 1.3 million Indians in the UK, while one estimate for 2008 suggests a total of 1.6 million British Indians.
In the 2001 UK Census, Indians in the UK were most likely to have responded to code 41 - Indian or Indian British. Indian was one of only five sub categories in the UK census which represents a nation (along with Irish, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese).
India is a diverse nation composed of many ethnic groups, this is reflected in the British Indian community although there are several ethnic groups that number considerably more than others. The largest subgroup of British Indians are those of Punjabi origin (representing approximately two thirds of direct migrants from South Asia to the UK), combined with Pakistani Punjabis they number over 2 million in the UK and are the largest Punjabi community outside of South Asia. British Gujaratis are also another large subgroup of the British Indian population and they form the largest overseas Gujarati population on earth, being larger than the combined Gujarati communities of New York City and Toronto (which are second and third largest, respectively). There are also approximately half a million Bengalis in the UK (although not all of these people originate from what is now considered India, but Bangladesh too). Alongside Punjabis, Gujaratis and Bengalis there are also significant numbers of Tamils and Parsis. There is a large community of Goans in the Greater London area and in Swindon. With smaller communities in Southampton and Leicester. The largest community of people of Goan origin in Europe is in Lisbon, and Portugal also has the second largest population of South Asian origin in Europe after the United Kingdom. There has also been a recent immigration of Malayalees from South India who number approximately 100,000.
According to the 2001 UK Census 1,053,411 people (1.8% of the country's population) was of Indian descent. Between 2001 and 2009, National Statistics has released estimates for the number of Indians in England only. They were as follows: 2001 - 1,045,600, 2002 - 1,074,700, 2003 - 1,109,100, 2004 - 1,156,000, 2005 - 1,215,400, 2006 - 1,264,200, 2007 - 1,316,000 2008 - 1,366,400 and 2009 - 1,414,100. Today there are considerable numbers of Indian Britons who have ancestry via the Caribbean, South and East Africa as well as the Pacific Islands. See also: British Indo-Caribbean community, Ugandan British, Kenyan British, South African British and Tanzanian British.
The table below shows the dispersity of Indian people in the United Kingdom. The figures for all of the English regions, cities and boroughs are based on 2009 estimates, whilst the figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are from the 2001 Census.
Harrow - 14.9% Indian
Brent - 18.2%
Ealing - 17.9%
Hounslow - 12.8%
Redbridge - 10.7%
Newham - 9.7%
Hillingdon - 9.0%
Barnet - 8.4%
Wolverhampton - 10.5% Indian
Sandwell - 8.2%
Coventry - 7.7%
Birmingham - 5.8%
Walsall - 5.3%
||Slough - 11.2% Indian|
Leicester - 18.7% Indian
Oadby and Wigston - 10.7%
Blaby - 5.7%
Charnwood - 5.1%
Nottingham - 4.5%
Derby - 3.5%
Northampton - 3.5%
Bedford - 4.7%
Cambridge - 4.7% Indian
Luton - 4.3%
Blackburn - 9.2% Indian
Preston - 6.8%
Bolton - 5.6%
Manchester - 3.4%
Trafford - 2.1%
|Yorkshire and the Humber||
Kirklees - 4.2%
Bradford - 3.1% Indian
Leeds - 2.6%
Sheffield - 2.3%
Bristol - 2.4% Indian
Gloucester - 2.3%
Swindon - 2.0%
||Newcastle Upon Tyne - 2.8% Indian|
Glasgow - 2.4% Indian
Aberdeen - 1.5%
Edinburgh - 1.4%
||Cardiff - 1.3% Indian|
Indians number over half a million in London, which is the city's single largest non-white ethnic group. Indians have a significant impact on the culture of the British capital. Within London, Southall, Hounslow, Brent, Croydon, Redbridge, Ealing, Barnet, Tooting, Harrow and Wembley, the latter of which is one of the few places outside of India where Indians make up the largest ethnic group (almost 4 times larger than the indigenous White British population). There are more Indians in the British capital than in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and Portugal combined.
Leicester is set to soon become the UK's first ethnic minority-majority city and Indians make up by far the largest ethnic group besides the White British. At 18.7% of the local population in 2009, Leicester has one of the highest percentages of Indians per head of the population of any local authority in the UK. According to the 2001 UK Census, 14.74% of Leicester's population were Hindu and 4.21% Sikh. Gujarati is the primary language of 16% of the city’s residents, 3% Punjabi and 2% Urdu. Other smaller but common language groups include Hindi and Bengali.
According to the 2001 Census, the religious breakdown of Indians in England and Wales can be seen in the table below. Although the majority of British Indians are Hindu, the UK is home to the largest Sikh community outside of India. Notable Hindu temples include BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir London (the largest Hindu temple outside of India), Bhaktivedanta Manor, Shree Jalaram Prarthana Mandal, Skanda Vale, Sree Ganapathy Temple, Wimbledon and Tividale Tirupathy Balaji Temple. Notable Gurdwaras in the country include: Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick, Guru Nanak NSJ, Soho Road, Birmingham, see also: Gurdwaras in the United Kingdom. There are also significant numbers of Muslim and Christian British Indians as well as Ravidassia community with their main temple (Bhawan) in Handsworth, Birmingham. One of the largest Christian British Indian community is that of Catholic Goans, mainly from East Africa, but also directly from Goa, and from Aden, Pakistan and the countries of the Persian Gulf. The UK is also home to one of the largest Ravidassia communities outside India; this was first recognised by 2011 Census.
Sikhs are also supporting separate Sikh monitoring in the 2011 census, Virendra Sharma MP met with representatives from the Sikh community to lobby parliament in November 2009 stating "It is vital that the Office of National Statistics recognise the importance of the Sikh community and provide this monitoring at the next Census".
|Religion||Percentage of Indian population in England and Wales.|
Today the British Indian community is extremely well established and it even has its own diaspora, many Indian British people now live abroad including in Canada (some 11,200), the United States (around 17,000) and Oceania (largely Anglo-Indians) amongst others.
Indian cuisine is extremely popular in the United Kingdom. The hybrid dish "Chicken tikka masala" always comes out on top as the UK's favourite meal. There are around 9,000 Indian restaurants located across the UK, which equates to approximately one per 7,000 people. The popularity of the Indian curry in the UK was mainly made by Bangladeshi restaurateurs, where 85 percent of Indian restaurants in the UK are in fact owned by Bangladeshi Sylheti Bengalis. Over 2 million Britons eat at Indian restaurants in the UK every week, with a further 3 million cooking at least one Indian based meal at home during the week. Veeraswamy, probably the world's most famous Indian restaurant is located on Regent Street in London, and is the oldest surviving Indian restaurant in the UK, having opened in 1926.
The British Indian film industry is a successful enterprise, and over recent years, many British Indian actors have risen to prominence globally, particularly in Britain, India, and the USA. Notable films include Bend It Like Beckham, whose story revolves around British Indian life, and Slumdog Millionaire, a British drama film set in Mumbai starring British Indian actor Dev Patel in the lead role. The latter has won four Golden Globes, seven BAFTA Awards and eight Academy Awards. Besides British-produced Indian-based films, there are many Bollywood productions which have been filmed in the UK, including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Yaadein, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Jab Tak Hai Jaan.
- Autobiography of a Princess (1975)
- Gandhi (1982)
- A Passage to India (1984)
- The Jewel in the Crown (1984)
- Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987)
- Mississippi Masala (1991)
- Bhaji on the Beach (1993)
- The Buddha of Suburbia (1993)
- My Son the Fanatic (1997)
- Such a Long Journey (1998)
- Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
- The Guru (2002)
- Bride and Prejudice (2004)
- Namastey London (2007)
- Before the Rains (2008)
- Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Indian influence on British popular music dates back to the development of raga rock by British rock bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones; several Beatles songs (such as "Within You Without You") also featured London-based Indian musicians. Today, British Indian musicians exist in almost every field and genre. However, there is an extremely large number of Bhangra artists that cement the UK as the stronghold of traditional Indian music outside of India, although this is a Punjabi music mainly performed by the Sikh community. Notable British Indian Bhangra acts include Panjabi MC, Rishi Rich, Juggy D, Jay Sean, DCS, and Sukshinder Shinda. World famous award winning singer-songwriter Freddie Mercury (a former member of the rock band Queen) was born on the island of Zanzibar to Parsi parents, originally from the Gujarat area of India. Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara) and his family fled when he was 17 years old due to the Zanzibar Revolution; he remains not only one of the most famous British Indian musicians of all time, but one of the most famous British musicians. Other world-famous British Indian musicians include Biddu, who produced a number of worldwide disco hits such as "Kung Fu Fighting", one of the best-selling singles of all time having sold eleven million records worldwide, and Apache Indian, who also had worldwide hits such as "Boom Shack-A-Lak". Jay Sean, whose parents immigrated to the United Kingdom from the Punjab region, is the first solo British Asian artist to reach the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with his single "Down" selling more than four million copies in the United States, making him "the most successful male UK urban artist in US chart history." Other contemporary British Indian singers include S-Endz and BRIT Award-nominated Nerina Pallot.
TelevisionLong-running British soap operas such as Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks have all had significant numbers of Indian characters, while shorter British series such as The Jewel in the Crown and Skins also feature British Indian characters. By far the most notable British Indian television shows are Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No. 42, a talk show that stars many famous British Indian actors including Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, Indira Joshi and Vincent Ebrahim. British Indian actors not only have a strong presence in the UK, but also in the United States, where Parminder Nagra, Naveen Andrews, Kunal Nayyar and Nicollette Sheridan (who are all Britons of Indian origin) have found fame in ER, Lost, The Big Bang Theory and Desperate Housewives respectively, though Nagra is the only one to portray an actual British citizen of Indian descent. There are dozens of channels aimed at the British Indian community available on Satellite and Cable, which include:
|Indian owned||Sky channel||Virgin Media channel||Other|
|Sony TV Asia||782||806||N/A|
|Zee TV||788||809||Channel 808 (Tiscali TV)|
|Alpha ETC Punjabi||798||812||N/A|
|Joint owned||Sky channel||Virgin Media channel||Other|
|B4U Music||781||816||Channel 504 (Freesat)|
|9X||828||N/A||Channel 662 (Freesat)|
|British owned||Sky channel||Virgin Media channel||Other|
The BBC Asian Network is a radio station available across the United Kingdom which is aimed predominantly at Britons of South Asian origin under 35 years of age. Besides this popular station there are only a few other national radio stations for or run by the British Indian community — including Sunrise and Yarr Radios. Regional British Indian stations include Asian Sound of Manchester, Hindu Sanskar and Sabras Radios of Leicester, Kismat Radio of London, Radio XL of Birmingham and Sunrise Radio Yorkshire based in Bradford (which itself has a much larger Pakistani than Indian community).
Many British Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs still adhere to the caste system and still seek marriage with individuals who are of similar caste categories. There have been several incidents involving abuse of low caste British Hindus, known as Dalits, by higher caste individuals in schools and workplaces. However, other Hindus say that caste discrimination is a thing of the past in Britain, and that the Asian community has moved on.
Discrimination against people of Indian origin in the United Kingdom is not completely widespread, but has been known to happen in certain instances.9/11 and 7/7 attacks, even though extremists who committed these atrocities have little to do with the British Indian community. A notable example of anti-Indian sentiment in the UK is the 2007 Celebrity Big Brother racism controversy which received significant media coverage. White contestants Jade Goody (who is mixed race), Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara were all seen to have been mocking Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty because of her accent. They also persisted in making fun of general parts of Indian culture. Channel 4 screened the arguments between the contestants, which received over 50,000 complaints. The controversy generated over 300 newspaper articles in Britain, 1,200 in English language newspapers around the globe, 3,900 foreign language news articles, and 22,000 blog postings on the internet.
Another example of discrimination is the Expulsion of Asians in Uganda in 1972 (a decision made by the President of Uganda to ethnically cleanse the country) which lead to tens of thousands of East African Indians coming to the UK to start a new life, the majority of these already had British passports, due to Uganda at that time being part of the British Empire.
Other examples of discrimination towards British Indians in the mainstream population include the case of 27 year old Chetankumar Meshram, a call centre trainer from Northampton who was compensated £5,000 after his boss told him he was to be replaced by a better English speaker. Also Meena Sagoo, 42 is demanding over £100,000 after herself and a fellow employee of the ING Bank of Sri Lankan heritage were called The Kumars at No. 42 (after the popular TV comedy show of the same name). The same bank has been noted to have paid out £20,000 to a worker of Chinese origin who also claimed racial harassment.
Another form of discrimination towards British Indians is stereotyping, one example is British Asians stereotyped as being the majority of newsagent and convenience store shopkeepers, the stereotype "Paki shop"; and also making up a majority of doctors. These are all often associated as being hardworking. This stereotype was made fun of in the television and radio sketches of Goodness Gracious Me by four British Indian comedy actors. In the comedy sketch Little Britain, a British Indian character called Meera continuously receives racist comments from weight loss advisor Marjorie Dawes who always makes it known that she does not understand a word of what Meera says, although it is completely obvious to the surrounding people and the viewer.
According to a study published by Oxford University 1500 girls are missing from birth records in England and Wales over a 15 year period from 1990 to 2005. The vast majority of the abortions are carried out in India.
The richest person in Britain Lakshmi Nivas Mittal is an Indian citizen with an estimated fortune of £10.8 billion in 2009. A study by Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2007 found British Indians have among the lowest poverty rates among different ethnic groups in Britain second only to white British. Of the different ethnic groups, Bangladeshis (65%), Pakistanis (55%) and black Africans (45%) had the highest rates; black Caribbeans (30%), Indians (25%), white Other (25%) and white British (20%) had the lowest rates. According to BBC findings, the economic makeup in 2001 of Indian-born British Indians is 65.98% of new immigrants were employed, with 16.43% being 'low earners' (people earning less than £149.20 a week) and 18.13% being 'high earners' (people earning more than £750 a week). By comparison, settled Indian immigrants to the UK are actually slightly less likely to be in employment, at 62.85%; the percentage of low and high earners for settled immigrants stood at 15.9% and 7.88% respectively. Therefore on average, 64.42% of Indian-born immigrants to the UK are employed. This figure is approximately 10% lower than the rate of employment for British-born people (regardless of ethnicity) which stood at 73.49% in 2001. Sikhs are on average the wealthiest Indians, and the second wealthiest religious group after Jewish people, in the UK, with a median total household wealth of £229,000.
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