British Asian

British Asian

infobox ethnic group
group = British Asians

Bottom row:M.I.A.
poptime = 3,300,000 (2006)
5.50% of the UK population
flagicon|India Indian - 1.6 million [ [] ]
flagicon|Pakistan Pakistani - 1 million [ [] ]
flagicon|Bangladesh Bangladeshi - 0.5 million
Other South Asians - 0.2 million
popplace = London, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, West Yorkshire, Sheffield, Lancashire, Slough, Reading, Berkshire, Luton, Peterborough, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Greater Glasgow, Brierstan.
langs = Hindi, Urdu, Bengali Punjabi,English
religions = Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity and Other religions

British Asians are British citizens who are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal - a region collectively known as South Asia or the Indian subcontinent. The term Asian British is used by the UK Government for the same group. [ [] ] In British English, the term 'Asian' usually excludes East Asians (see East Asian people in the United Kingdom).

Immigration of South Asian people to the United Kingdom began in the period of British Raj in the Indian subcontinent. Immigration continued in high volume even after the independence of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from British rule, chiefly for education and economic pursuits. A major influx of South Asian immigrants also took place following the expulsion of Indian communities (then holders of British passports) from Uganda and other nations of East Africa.


In British English, the word "Asian" is often used to refer to those of South Asian origin, particularly Pakistan, India and Bangladeshis, and also the less numerous Sri Lankans, Nepalese, and Maldivians. [British Sociological Association. Equality and Diversity. Language and the BSA: Ethnicity & Race. 2005. October 26. [] ] Additionally, Britons who mark the "Other Asian" category on the UK census are normally of Afghan, Iranian, Iraqi, Turkish and Yemeni ancestries.Gardener, David. Who are the Other Ethnic Groups. 2005. October 27, 2006. [] ] It may also refer to people from other parts of Asia, [Color Q World. Clarifying the Definition of Asian. 2005. 1 October 2006. .] but those of East Asian (such as Chinese, Korean or Japanese) or Southeast Asian origin are often not included in the term; they are more likely to be defined by their country of origin, or may instead be grouped under the umbrella term "oriental". This is reflected in the "ethnic group" section of UK census forms and other government paperwork, which treat "Asian" and "Chinese" as separate. Most Central Asians are generally not included in the British categorisation of 'Asian' either. This usage should not be confused with the common American English tendency to use the term "Asian" to refer mainly to peoples from East Asia, as the majority of Asians in the US originate from the 'Far East'. The American English usage for Asian is also used in Australia and New Zealand.

The terms "Asian" or "British Asian" are contested. According to Qasim Mohammad, Britain's Hindu community considers the term somewhat vague given the religious and national origin difference between Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. Britain's Hindu community is debating whether to adopt a specific label based on nationality (e.g. "British Indian") or religion (e.g. "British Hindu"). Some British Indians do not feel they want to be in the same ethnic group as British Pakistanis. [Lall, Rashmee Roshan. Times of India. UK 'Indian' wants to shed 'Asian' tag. 2006. 4 September 2006..] Others see a certain degree of unity in the South Asian diaspora; the term "desi" is also sometimes used to name a South Asian person, pointing to a common identity, but is more often a word used within the Asian community.


According to the [ 2001 UK Census] there are 2.33 million British Asians, making up 4% of the population of the United Kingdom. This further subdivides to 1.05 million of Indian origin (1.8% of the population), 747,000 of Pakistani origin (1.3%), 283,000 of Bangladeshi origin (0.5%), and 247,000 from other Asian origins (0.4%) (largely of Sri Lankan origin). British Asians make up 50.2% of the UK's non-European population. British Indians tend to be religiously diverse, with 45% Hindu, 29% Sikh, and 13% per cent Muslim, while their counterparts of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are much more religiously homogeneous, with Muslims accounting for 92% of each group.

British Asians who marked "Other Asian" as an ethnic group and then wrote in their specific ethnic group were mostly (23%) of Sri Lankan origin. This was followed by fill-ins of Middle Eastern (9%) origin. Due to a growing sense of affiliation with Britain, many third generation Asians chose to not mark "Asian or British Asian" and instead marked "British Asian" in the "Other Asian" write in section.

In terms of key demographic measures, the two Asian groups, Indians and Pakistani/Bangladeshis have developed significant differences. The unemployment rate in Indians in UK is about 2%, comparable to that of the White British. On the other hand Bangladeshis have higher unemployment rates of 13-14% [National Statistics. Labour Market. 2006. 14 August 2006. .] with Pakistanis having one of the highest rates,around 23% [National Statistics. Labour Market. 2006. 14 August 2006. Ethnicity and Identity. 2005. 14 August 2006. .] Persons of Indian or mixed Indian origin are more likely than White British to have university degrees, whereas Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are less likely. [National Statistics. Ethnicity and Identity. 2005. 14 August 2006. .]

British Asian ethnic groups mostly originate from a few select places in South Asia. British Pakistanis originate largely from Azad kashmir (free kashmir) particularly from the Mirpur area, with the remainder originating from cities and villages in Punjab Province and North-West Frontier Province along with some from Karachi. British Bangladeshis largely originate from the Sylhet region of the country. British Indians tend to originate mainly from two Indian States, Punjab and Gujarat. However, in recent years, there has been significant Tamil immigration from Sri Lanka.

According to the United Kingdom Census 2001, British Asian men from all British Asian ethnic groups intermarried with another ethnic group more than British Asian women. Among British Asians, British Indians intermarried with a different ethnic group the most both absolutely and proportionately, followed by British Pakistanis and British Bangladeshis.

History in Great Britain

No one knows the earliest origins of settlement of South Asians in Great Britain for certain; if the Romani (Gypsies) are included, then the earliest arrivals may have been in the Middle Ages — although not normally included as South Asian, the Roma and Sinti (most in the UK have been Sinti) are both believed to have originated in parts of what is now North India and Pakistan and to have begun travelling westward around 1000, though they have mixed with Southwest Asians and Europeans over the centuries. Romani began arriving in sizeable numbers in parts of Western Europe in the 16th century.

People from South Asia 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. Many were then refused passage back, and were marooned in London. There were also some "ayahs", domestic servants and nannies of wealthy British families, who accompanied their employers back to "Blighty" when their stay in 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 young Indians from the Malabar Coast were being recruited as servants at the end of the seventeenth century., and records of the EIC also suggest that Indo-Portuguese cooks from Goa were retained by captains from voyage to voyage. [ [ Lascars in The East End] ] In 1797, 13 were buried in the parish of St Nicholas at Deptford.

Following the Second World War and the break up of the British Empire, Asian migration to the UK increased through the 1950s and 1960s from Pakistan (including present-day Bangladesh) and Commonwealth countries such as India, at the same time as immigrants from former Caribbean colonies were also moving to Britain.

Although this immigration was continuous, several distinct phases can be identified:
*Manual workers, mainly from Pakistan, 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 of India and some from Pakistan arrived in the late 1950s and 1960s. Many worked in the foundries of the English Midlands and a large number worked at Heathrow Airport in West London. This created an enviroment to where the next generation of families do not lose their identity as easily. A good example would be the area Southall to which is populated by many Sikhs.
*During the same time, medical staff from the Indian subcontinent 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 Asians, 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.

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 Asian community has come from the births of second- and third-generation Asian Britons.

Influence on popular culture

It is notable that although there are roughly double the amount of British Asians in the UK today compared to people of African descent, British Asians are less represented in global and British media than any other major group; in the UK there is less than half the amount of British Asians represented in the media than those of African and Caribbean descent.

The biggest influence of British Asians on popular culture has probably been the so-called Indian restaurant, though in fact most are run by people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin. A recent poll found that chicken tikka masala has surpassed fish and chips in terms of popularity as the national dish. [Sur, Indraneel. The Hartford Courant. In Britain, Favorite Dish Is Chicken Tikka Masala. 2001. 14 August 2006. .] Chicken tikka masala, like the popular balti, is itself a British Asian invention. British Asian have also played a pivotal role in rejuvenating a number of UK street markets. According to the New Economics Foundation, Queen's Market, Upton Park is officially the most ethnically diverse.

The influence on popular music has been a long standing one for British Desis with music producer, composer and song-writer Biddu who produced and composed a number of music hits in the early part of the British Disco scene in the mid-1970s such as the smash hit Kung fu fighting for Carl Douglas and the 1 UK hit and worldwide smash I Love to Love (But My Baby Loves to Dance) for Tina Charles.

Bhangra music has in addition become popular among many in the general British public (especially younger people) [Dixon, Martha. British Broadcast Corporation News. Bhangra fusion gathers support. 2003. 14 August 2006. .] not only from the works of British Asian musicians such as Panjabi MC, Swami and Rishi Rich but also incorporated into the works of a number of non-Asian musicians not only British but including North American artists such as Canadian Shania Twain, who created a whole alternate version of her multi-platinum album Up! with full Indian instrumentation, produced by legendary British Asian producers Simon & Diamond. Diamond, better known as DJ Swami has also collaborated with superstar rapper Pras, of The Fugees, and his band Swami have become one of the most renowned acts in British Asian music history, having had songs in major Hollywood movies and best-selling video games. One of the first artists of Asian Indian origin to achieve mainstream success was Apache Indian who infused reggae and hip hop with Indian popular music to create a sound that transcended genre and found a multicultural audience. he is the only Indian artist to have achieved 7 top forty hits in the National UK charts. A subsequent wave of "Asian Underground" artists went on to blend elements of western underground dance music and the traditional music of their home countries, such Nitin Sawhney, Talvin Singh and Asian Dub Foundation.

The influence of Asian music has not only been from Asians living in the UK, but also from some UK artists that were starting using asian instruments creating a new and dynamic sound that was a mixture of sitars and tablas with a more rock traditional rock-based Western instruments like the drums and guitars. This created a inauthentic use of such cultural resources as all of the instruments were used to create a overall sound that treated all the instruments and influences equally. [,M1.] Bhangra asian identity and the search for authenticity There is one important thing to notice is the relationship of Bhangra and other musical genres namely Reggae, Dub, and Soul Not only has asian culture popularity in the UK has boomed, it also has influenced many local artists that created their own mixture of genres. [ Sanjay Sharma, Noisy Asians or Asian noise, The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music, ed. Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk, and Ashwani Sharma, 32-57. London: Zed Books, 1996. ]

The films "East is East", Chicken Tikka Masala and "Bend It Like Beckham" and the TV shows "Goodness Gracious Me" and "The Kumars at No. 42" have managed to attract large, multi-ethnic audiences. The success and popularity of British Pakistani boxer Amir Khan influenced the revival of boxing on ITV Sport. In 2006, "Time Asia" magazine voted the late British Asian musician Freddie Mercury, the lead singer and writer of the rock band Queen, as one of the most influential Asians in the past 60 years.Liam Fitzpatrick. " [ Farrokh Bulsara] ". "Time Asia".]

Lakshmi Mittal is currently Britain's richest man and the fifth richest man in the world. The Mittal family owns 43% of Arcelor-Mittal, the world's largest steel manufacturer, which was known as Mittal Steel Company before the merger with Arcelor. He was listed in the "Forbes" List of Billionaires (2006) as the richest Indian and the fifth richest man in the world with an estimated fortune of $55.0 billion and, according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2006, is the richest in the UK, with a net worth of £29 billion. The "Financial Times" named Mittal its 2006 Person of the Year. In 2005, he was the third richest man in the world according to "Forbes" List of billionaires (2005).

In the disability arena Ivan and Charika Corea founded the Autism Awareness Campaign UK.


This refers to the growing body of literature that refers to and documents aspects of the British Asian experience.

Well-known British Asian writers include: Salman Rushdie, Gurinder Chadha, Hanif Kureshi, Monica Ali, Meera Syal, Gautam Malkani and Raman Mundair.


Jawed Khaliq The first world champion boxer of Pakistani origin was born in Nottingham England.
Amir Khan (boxer) the silver medallist at the Olympic games in Athens in 2004 who has become a cultural icon in the UK with audiences of up to 8 million watching him live on national TV whenever he fights. Another notable boxer is Haider Ali who won the first ever gold medal for Pakistan in boxing at the commonwealth games in Manchester in 2002 in the featherweight division he now fights professionally out of Luton England. [ [ Pakistan Sports Board ] ]

List of other British Asian Sport personalities:

* Amir Khan
* Vikram Solanki
* Sajid Mahmood
* Monty Panesar
* Saqlain Mushtaq
* Adam Khan
* Dimitri Mascarenhas
* Ravi Bopara

* Kabir Ali
* Mark Ramprakash
* Nasser Hussain
* Owais Shah
* Kadeer Ali
* Moeen Ali
* Haroon Khan
* Hamza Riazuddin

* Min Patel
* Samit Patel
* Adil Rashid
* Zesh Rehman
* Bilal Shafayat
* Harpal Singh
* Anwar Uddin

* Usman Afzaal
* Adnan Ahmed
* Michael Chopra
* Nayan Doshi
* Majid Haq
* Ronnie Irani
* Omer Hussain

Celebrities in popular culture

Early British Asian stars include Sabu Dastagir, who had been famous for playing non-specific foreigners in British and Hollywood films, fondly remembered for his lead roles in "The Thief of Bagdad" and "Jungle Book".

Since the 1970s, British Asian performers and writers have achieved significant mainstream cultural success. The first British Asian Musician to gain wide popularity in the UK and worldwide fame was the late Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara), who led the rock band Queen, although most people may be unaware of his ethnicity. Famous British Asian actors in the 1980s included Ben Kingsley, who won an Academy Award for his performance in "Gandhi", as well as Art Malik for his roles in "The Jewel in the Crown" and "The Living Daylights".

The comedians Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal and Shazia Mirza are all well-recognised figures in British popular culture. The actress Parminder Nagra has a prominent role in the US TV series "ER", and played the lead role in the successful British film "Bend It Like Beckham". The presenter and match maker of the BBC marriage arranging show "Arrange Me a Marriage" is Asian-Scot Aneela Rahman. The actor Naveen Andrews plays the role of Sayid Jarrah in the popular US TV series "Lost", and also had a prominent role in the award-winning film "The English Patient". Hardeep Singh Kohli is a presenter, reporter and comedian on British television. British Pakistani boxer Amir Khan represents Britain in boxing and is the current IBF inter-continental light welterweight champion. British Kashmiri, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian contestants have appeared on "The Apprentice" including Tre Azam, Syed Ahmed, Lohit Kalburgi, Ghazal Asif, Shazia Wahab, Sara Dhada and most notably Saira Khan, who is now a British TV presenter. The broadcaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Samira Ahmed, meanwhile, present the "Channel 4 News".

Recently in the second season of "Britain's Got Talent", one of the most successful reality television shows, the British Asian dance duo "Signature", consisting of Suleman Mirza (a British Pakistani) and Madhu Singh (a British Indian) performing a fusion of Michael Jackson and Bhangra music and dance styles, ended up as the runner-up on the talent show, second only to George Sampson.


Although there are Asian communities all over the UK, towns and cities with particularly significant Asian populations include:

The area with the most British Asians is the London Borough of Tower Hamlets which has over 35% of Asians living therehuh, most of them being of Bangladeshi origin.

*Batley 30% S. Asian. 40.72% in Batley East [ [ Neighbourhood Statistics ] ] and 21.43% in Batley West [ [ Neighbourhood Statistics ] ]
*Bedford (Queens Park, Cauldwell) 7.7% S. Asian
*Birmingham (especially Sparkhill, Sparkbrook, Small Heath, Balsall Heath, Washwood Heath, Saltley, Handsworth, Handsworth Wood)19.5% S. Asian
*Blackburn 20.6% S. Asian
*Bolton 9.1% S. Asian
*Bradford (Manningham, Great Horton, Heaton, Girlington, West Bowling, Barkerend and Thornbury) 20.3% S. Asian
*Burton Upon Trent (anglesey) 4.3% s. Asian (east Staffordshire so also includes uttoxeter where the is little if any S. Asian population)
*Cardiff (Butetown, Grangetown, Riverside) 3.96% S. Asian
*Coventry 11.3% S. Asian
*Derby 8.4% S. Asian
*Dewsbury (Ravensthorpe, Thornhill Lees, Savile Town) around 33% Asian. [ [ Britain’s multiculturalism falters, by Wendy Kristianasen ] ] Savile Town is "97-100% Muslim" [ paragraph 4.3 ] The Asian population is estimated at 70% Gujarati and 30% Pakistani. [ [ Richard Donkin - Islam in Dewsbury] ]
*Glasgow (especially Pollokshields, Pollokshaws, Govanhill and Woodlands) Scotland0.9% S. Asian - some estimates are as high as 80,000. []
*Halifax 10% S.Asian"'
*High Wycombe 7.5% S. Asian
*Keighley (especially Lawkholme, Highfield, Knowle Park and Stockbridge) 15% S. Asian
*Leeds (Beeston, Harehills, Chapeltown) 4.5% S. Asian
*Leicester (especially Belgrave, Rushey Mead, Highfields, Spinney Hills, Evington) 29.9% S. Asian
*Luton (especially Bury Park) 18.3% S. Asian
*Manchester (especially Longsight, Rusholme, Whalley Range and Cheetham Hill) 9.1% S. Asian
*Newcastle upon Tyne (especially Arthurs Hill and Elswick) 3.8% S. Asian
*Newport (especially Maindee and Pillgwenlly) 2.6% S. Asian
*Oldham (especially Glodwick, Westwood and Werneth) 11.9% S. Asian
*Oxford (especially Cowley Road) 5.8% S. Asian
*Pendle (especially Nelson) 14.1% S. Asian
*Peterborough 7.0% South Asian
*Preston 11.6% S. Asian
*Reading borough 5.2% S. Asian
*Rochdale 9.8% S. Asian
*Burnley (borough) 7.2% S. Asian
*Rugby (especially New Bilton, Benn and Brownsover) 5.3% S. Asian
*Sheffield (especially Burngreave, Sharrow and Darnall) 4.6% S. Asian
*Slough 27.9% S. Asian
*Sandwell (especially the Victoria Park area of Tipton) 14% South Asian
*Southampton 3.8% S. Asian
*Stoke-On-Trent 4.1% S. Asian [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Estimated population by broad ethnic group, mid-2005 | date= | publisher= | url = | work | pages = | accessdate = 2008-10-05 | language = ]
*Sunderland (especially Eden Vale, Hendon and Thornhill) 1.2% South Asian
*Wakefield 5% Asian. The College Grove area is estimated at 36.49% Asian [ [ Neighbourhood Statistics ] ]
*Walsall 10.4% S. Asian
*Wolverhampton 14.3% S. Asian

*Note: Some local authorities contain large areas of countryside surrounding the actual towns, e.g. Bedford, Bradford, Leeds, Newport, Sunderland and High Wycombe. This may lead to the local Asian and ethnic minority populations being underestimated in these places.

Counties with a high population of British Asians include -
*Lancashire 5.3% S. Asian
*Greater Manchester 5.6% S. Asian
*West Yorkshire 8.7% S. Asian
*West Midlands (county) 13.4% S. Asian
*Greater London 12.09% S. Asian
*Berkshire 6.8% S. Asian
*Buckinghamshire 4.3% S. Asian
*Bedfordshire 8.3% S. Asian
*Leicestershire 11.9% S. Asian

London Boroughs with a high population of British Asians include -
*London Borough of Tower Hamlets 36.6% South Asian
*London Borough of Brent 27.7% South Asian
*London Borough of Ealing 24.5% South Asian
*London Borough of Harrow 29.7% South Asian
*London Borough of Hounslow 24.7% South Asian
*London Borough of Newham 32.5% South Asian
*London Borough of Redbridge 25.0% South Asian

See also

*List of British Asian people
*British Indian
*British Pakistani
*British Bangladeshi
*BBC Asian Network

External links

* [ BBC Radio Player] discussion on the dissatisfaction over the term Asian
* [ hWeb - An outline of the immigration pattern of the Pakistani community in Britain]
* [ British Council Arts - Contemporary Writers] information on British Asian writer Raman Mundair.
* [ BBC News Many Asians 'do not feel British'] 30/07/07 based on ICM Research poll conducted 4 - 12th July 2007
* [ Reassessing what we collect website - The Asian Community in London] History of Asian London with objects and images


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