There gets a point where it is not just about what you can do for your country, but what your country should do for you.
A British Indian relative, Kavish Patel, tells me how despite getting married 12 months ago, he still is being refused permission to bring his wife to the UK from India. Do you know what immigration officers want to know? The intimate details of his Facebook chats with his wife – so they can determine it is not a sham marriage. Oh, and more intimate private information than that too – like what they did on honeymoon. 12 months! Hey, just make him wait 15 years and you’ll have your proof.
On November the 11th the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in Whitehall in memory of all the soldiers, including the 2million Indian soldiers who fought for British Independence in the Second World War. The motto of the day is, ‘we shall never forget’.
Because of that war, the European Convention on Human Rights was enacted. Article 8 provides me the right to privacy. Article 12 provides me the right to family life and marriage. Do you know why? Because the Nazis happened. That’s why that Convention exists and is binding on the British Government.
I ask, beg, plead, with every British Indian Parliamentarian to stand up for British Indians and take up the case of the humiliation of British Indians seeking to have the right to family life, to marriage. You Parliamentarians walk on the shoulders of giants – Indian giants. Just as quick as you are to be grateful to Britain at every opportunity, and how grateful you are the country offered you a home as a Ugandan Indian, or a penniless migrant from Kenya, or Tanzania or India – remember too you worked for it, you earned it. You repaid your debt of gratitude manifold to the country. Look the country in the eye not from a position of being prostrate on the floor. My grandfather did not migrate here because of the generosity, great though it is of the British people, but because he was in the British Army in the War, and generously provided his Indian courage to the war effort. He earned that right to migrate. When your fellow British Indians fought in the Second World War – they too earned the right for you to migrate here – lest you forget – until the British Parliament legislated away that right. Lest you forget.
Patriotism is loyalty of the citizen to the country, but the country owes loyalty to its citizens. A British Indian seeks not extra protection but certainly demands no extra prejudice because he is Indian. He expects not to have to have his right to family life and privacy invaded. A right British Indians fought for. A right without British Indians in the Second World War would certainly not exist to native Britons because British Independence would not exist and the European Convention on Human Rights would not exist.
So do not mistake our gratitude for weakness, our gratefulness for a willingness to be maltreated. We too, by the millions, put the Great into Great Britain. So the next time one of our number wishes to bring their newly married spouse from the land of their ancestors – show us the respect we deserve and demand. We are British Indians. This is our nation. Lest YOU forget.