Being British Indian – moving from good to great by God’s grace

‘These girls were targeted because they were not part of your community or religion’ said the judge in the sex grooming case. So not only race, but religion was an issue too. So Keith Vaz, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee – you’re wrong when you say it wasn’t, and the judge who heard all the evidence and sat through the entire trial is right. Your Select Committee has fewer more important issues to investigate than this. Don’t do the politically astute thing of dodging the issue for fear it will harm Labour prospects among the Muslim community.

I like all British Indians do not want to be tarred as ‘Asian’ – but we’ve been whinging about that for a long time. It’s not what bothers me anymore. What bothers me is not what others may misperceive about my Indian community, but what they may indeed truthfully perceive; that they may know how we mis-treat women, that in the country of my parent’s birth, female child sex slavery is prevalent, that the murder of girl babies is widespread simply because they are girls. And it is a Muslim, Aamir Khan, this week who launched the campaign ‘Daughters are precious: female foeticide’. India needs billion more Muslims like Aamir Khan, a billion more Hindus to be more like Aamir Khan. He is all that is great in being Indian, in Muslims, in Indian Muslims.

So before we British Indians get too holy about how goody goody we are, let us use this as an opportunity to better ourselves, rather than sitting on the side-lines to criticise others alone.

So before we take too much pride in the fact we are Indian and not Asian, and not Pakistani or Muslim, let us remember, the grandparents of all these sexual groomers were Indian. That we too live in Britain, and we too have a responsibility to engage and improve and help as well as criticise those troubled parts of our society. It is too easy to leave it at, ‘they’re not Indian, we wouldn’t do that, look at how goody goody we are.’ If we really want to move from good to great then we would be looking at how we can help solve this problem, not simply point out that we are not part of the problem.

It is important to remember humility at these times – ‘there but for the grace of god go I.’ For those British Indians reading this, remember, had your grandparents been born 500 miles north of where they were, then indeed, there but for the grace of god go you. For those British Indians pointing out, ‘these Pakistani Muslims are not like us, us who are Indian and so good’ where are you when the child sex slavery of girls in your ‘home’ country of India is rife? Where? Days are too short, too much too do, work, home, can’t get involved in such campaigns? Pathetic!

Alpesh Patel

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