The Politics of Immigration and Allegiance

Speaking truth to power is what Indians like Gandhji and the Sardar were good at. Taking their inspiration, when asked this past week by UK Government officials for input on British visa policy, I said, ‘there are 2.5% people of Indian origin in the UK. Over the past 40 years they have been probably the greatest net contributors per capita to the Government’s coffers – more so than even the native population per capita. You’re in a recession, looking for growth. Have you thought about doubling the number of Indians here? We have over 40 years proven track-record that Indian migration self-selects risk-takers and the successful. In fact, under current migration rules, probably 80% of the Asian Rich List would not qualify today.’

This is timely, because also last week Lord Popat initiated a Debate in the House of Lords that Parliament ‘takes note of the contribution made by the Ugandan Asian community in the United Kingdom on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of their expulsion from Uganda.’

I don’t like the term Asian. We mean Indian. Consider not just the loss to Uganda – history proves that, but also to India, who said of the 60,000 Ugandans they were not India’s responsibility. Today those 60,000 generate per capita more GDP than the nation of India.

The debate today about immigration may not be in the terms Powell framed it in the 70s. But make no mistake – and make it clear – Indians add net value to whichever country they go. Throughout history, everywhere, this has been true of Indians.

So when your country is in a hole, like a recession, of your own making, you want to get out of that hole – you better call for special forces – and they better be, need to be, Indian. History, data, the census, office of national statistics all prove it. Time and again. We punch above our weight. You shoot yourself in the foot, as the Ugandans did, in not recognising it. As Lord Popat said in his speech, ‘[We] make up 2.5% of the population, but account for 10% of our national output….But we are also fiercely patriotic. We believe in Britain, in its values, its traditions.’

This is timely also because this past week Lord Ahmed asked in the House of Lords, ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have raised with the Government of India the issue of ratification by India of the United Nations Convention against Torture and its optional protocols, and the proposal for a visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to India, including Kashmir.’

This worries me because in the first public speech in two years, the Head of MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence and security service, said earlier this year, ‘in the past about 75% of counter-terrorist casework was linked in some way to Pakistan or Afghanistan. That had now been reduced to below 50%’.

Bringing up Kashmir, in the manner Lord Ahmed does, is clear where his allegiances lie. Is it co-incidence, that the question on Kashmir was answered by Baroness Warsi in Parliament? The Baroness who has previously said on the issue of Kashmir, ‘I know the people of Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir have great expectations from me, my party and coalition government…regarding dispute of Kashmir.’

My point is not about Kashmir. India can look after herself. Britain’s Foreign Office is well aware of where her Parliamentarian’s allegiances truly lie. But my point is – it is one thing to limit all immigration, including Indian immigration to the UK, it is quite another then to attack Indians, from Britain, who have done so much for Britain. And that is speaking truth to power.

Alpesh Patel

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