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Indian Diaspora in the United Kingdom a study guide


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Sandeep sen


aishwarya kandukuri


ananya nanda



keshav suryanarayanan

7,672 km (4,767 miles)

16,125 km (8707 miles)


united kingdom





The phases of ancient migration, colonial migration and post colonial migration make it clearer to understand how Indian Diaspora settled in the UK. During the ancient era, Indians had trade links with the East Africa, by various groups such as the Ismailis, the Hhoras. The Ranyas and the Chettiyars under the banner of Nattukottai Chettiyar Association (Tinker, 1977). Even before the colonial indentured labor migration, "population mobility was inherent in the social order..." and is observed in the case of the marginal peasants who "...shifted their loyalties from one master to another and hence traveled from one region to another" (Jain 1993). The trajectory of migration to the UK can be traced through the timeline given below.

UK Immigration laws enabled Indian Diasporic communities to make their homes in the UK. The army requirements of Indians to serve in the Royal Army, the law of indenture, and later, the establishment of the Indian Workers Association in 1956, led Indians to move to the UK. The exodus of Indians from Kenya, Uganda etc led them to shift to the UK as it was a more accepting and liberal environment to live in. The liberal Immigration Law of the UK also enabled Indians to freely live there. The Indian Diaspora play an active role in current politics with 15 representatives in Parliament. The Indian Diaspora has been voting for the Labour Party all these years but the last elections saw a shift to the Conservative Party for its neoliberal politics and employment schemes.

Indians were recruited to fulfill the labour shortage that resulted from World War II. Workers mainly from the Punjab and Gujarat regions arrived from India in the late 1950s and 1960s to work in the foundries, and textile manufacturing in the Industrial towns. Sikhs either set up businesses related to the textile industry or took up industrial employment. Medical staff from India were recruited for the newly formed National Health Service. During the 1960s and 1970s, large numbers of East African Indians, predominantly Gujaratis, and Punjabis opened shops when they arrived in the UK. Today British Indians have among the lowest poverty rates(25%), highest employment rate(73%), highest average pay levels, second wealthiest of all ethnic minorities

The premise for Indians to shift to UK was the want of opportunity and employment. This however, led to a permanent settlements of Indians in the UK, giving rise to cultural intermixing, and more importantly, a cultural enclave that they reside in. The Little Indias, the separate residential areas in which the communities from India live in high concentrations give rise to question of whether it is intermixing of the Indians with others or is it a separate identity in isolation. The answer lies in a deeper understanding of the socio-cultural development of Indians in UK through various events, organizations and social behaviour that delves into the inquiry of the intermixing of different cultures in the United Kingdom.



There was an influx of immigrants from Punjabi males from India were recruited the British colonies and the Indian as seaman, sailors on British merchant subcontinent as the British government ships, soldiers into the British national sought to address the ever growing and army and were posted overseas. pressing labour shortage due to the abolition of slavery. PHASE i - COLONIAL MIGRATION

migration timeline




Indian labourers from Punjab, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were sent for both skilled and unskilled work to the sugar and rubber plantations of the British colonies in Guyana, Trinidad, Fiji, and East Africa.


cultural history

1947 - INDIA'S

ECONOMIC history


political history




As a result of independence, Britain invited citizens from various Commonwealth countries to take up employment in Britain to help in the reconstruction of the country after the War. PHASE II - POST C



did you know

THE CURSE OF KALA PAANI Kalapaani refers to the Indians who crossed the sea or “Blackwater� to live in the UK during the British regime in 18th and 19th century. The process of crossing the seas was prohibited in major Indian religions at that time resulting in a loss of caste. Expatriates were mainly sailors and servants who used to live with their British masters. A large number of concubines accompanied the men as well. In most parts, they went in an agreement to come back after a certain period of time which they failed in many cases. Many of them turned into beggars or prostitutes. Later a law was passed to ensure the rights of expatriates.



Source of Diaspora






SIKHISM - 22.15%



By 1960, around 60000 Indians and Pakistanis migrated to Britain to join the working class. A majority were from Punjab and Gujarat and small number of these were Muslims and Parsis.

Indians were banned from Uganda, Unlike the industrial workers who Kenya and Zanzibar. Indians in other migrated in the 60s & 70s, the third parts of Africa who held British generation of immigrants are highly passports also fled to Britain fearing the skilled and educated professionals, i.e. same fate, predominantly Punjabis and engineers, doctors etc. Gujaratis who were merchants. PHASE III - CONTEMPORARY MIGRATION



1950S - 1960S

ISLAM - 13.5%

HINDUISM - 44.02%




OTHER - 2.34% NO RELIGION - 3.13%



climate India has many climates across the country, e.g. tropical wet, tropical dry, subtropical wet mountainous, unlike that of a comparitively homogeneous climate all over the UK, in general cool and cloudy, and rare hot temperatures. Since the UK is on the polar jet stream path, frequent changes in pressure and unsettled weather are typical. Many types of weather can be seen in a single day.

little indias A Little India is an ethnic enclave containing a large population of Indian people within a society where the majority of people are of Indian origin. They often are a concentration of Indian restaurants, shops and colourful walls evocative of Indian neighbourhoods. Birmingham -Handsworth London- Kingsbury Glasgow -Govanhill Southall Nottingham -Hyson Green Harrow Leicester -Belgrave Wembley Latimer East Ham Manchester -Rusholme Stratford Berkshire -Slough Tooting West Midlands-Wolverhampton Ealing Lancashire -Blackburn Brent Preston Uxbridge New Malden Forest Gate Manor Park

Indians constitute the single largest ethnic minority. SouthHall is dominated by the Punjabi & Sikh communities, Tamils are concentrated in North London, Gujaratis live primarily in London and Leicester.


MACRO LEVEL FACTORS Nation State: Indians in UK are welcomed for their Indianness - For instance, Sikhism’s tenets of tolerance and community living. Modi addressing Indians in Wembley had the Park full even on a Friday night, giving the image of Indians in UK still having sentiments of nationalism and association to their motherland. The tireless endeavours of the government to ensure the nation’s pride abroad is a pattern we see in India’s policy with UK. Indian Culture: We see great transformations in the cultures of the migrating populations. Though their physical or geographical position is de-localized, their social and cultural position is still attached to the old memories of the culture from which their living patterns have emerged. The establishment of temples in UK along with a break of Diwali are still unheard of in any other nation with the Indian Diaspora. This draws hints towards a homogeneous society that British and Indians live in. MICRO LEVEL FACTORS Practices: The ties of Indian migrants to

Britain have led to the migration of values and practices into another culture. The Diwali Poojas, celebration of Holi in colleges and homes, the culture of having sweets and ‘Mithai walas’ is also some Indian culture that UK is witness too. The inclusion and fame that the Indian delicacies have received, to the extent of calling Chicken Tikka Masala the national dish of UK, is a mark of unity too.

Oppression: The Patidars from Gujarat are an extremely prosperous community given their mobility and high caste factors that make their social climbing much easier. However in that bargain, the caste practices of India also still continue to define the marriage patterns of the diaspora in UK. The Indian Diaspora within UK, is therefore, dispersed and not one entity. Glocal:

Given the global trends in the market, it is easy for people today to separate from their roots. On the other hand, globalization has the contrary effect of making them hold on to a connection to their roots. For instance, the British Indians own handloom shops of Indian textiles, provisions, and food in order to maintain their Indian roots in the local context of their cities in the globalized United Kingdom. The Indians in Britain are famous for their Indianness and identity as Indians, even in a globalised country like the UK.

diasporic tales PEOPLE OF TWO PLACES As the shipment of provisions would arrive from India, Guddi, the daughter of Pritam Singh Sangha, a local business owner, would run from house to house spreading the good news. The residents of Southall knew that her arrival meant that larders could be replenished with food staples that doubled as a reminder of home. The shelves emptied as quickly as they had been filled as spices, chapatti flour, lentils and other products were not available anywhere else: Britain’s love affair with curry was still several years away. Sangha could never in his wildest dreams have imagined that he was starting a consumer revolution that would give birth to Chota Punjab in Southall. This was 1954, when Indians began moving to Britain from India and Africa. every given moment.


Photo: Diwali Celebrations in Leicester

A switch is thrown, the cheers ring out and, on a chilly autumn evening, Leicester’s “Golden Mile” comes alive with light, colour, and street decorations as far as the eye can see. It’s the start of Diwali celebrations in Leicester, marking the Indian festival of lights with Bollywood-inspired dance, fireworks and a heartening sense of community. Leicester’s annual fortnight-long Diwali festival, culminating in another crowd-pulling event on Diwali Day itself, is often described as the biggest and best outside India.

Photo: Indian market in Southall The sights, smells, and sounds of Britain have changed since Indians arrived there. Temples, gurudwaras, and mosques were built and Green Street in East London, Green Lane Road and Belgrave Road in Leicester, and Stratford Road in Birmingham became Indians’ favourite shopping locations. Everything from ‘jhaadoos’ to ‘kadai’ could be bought here.

Photo: A Gurudwara in the UK There are about one and a half million South Asian people living in Britain, with a significant proportion residing in the London area. Just as it is in India, this number is made up of people from countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Nearly half of the South Asian population is estimated to be of Indian descent. Indian people have made their mark on many aspects of London life, participating in all levels of politics, business and cultural initiatives. They also contribute substantially to the health of Londoners via medical practices and the NHS. Indians in UK today have become one with the culture of space they are in, without losing the identity of previous generations. Albeit, 800 guests don’t arrive at weddings that are as loud as they are long, but the essence of celebration is still Indian at its core. British Indians still remain a people tied to two places at every given moment.

Photo: An Indian “Bazaar” in the UK However, things were not always this colourful for Indians in the city. In August 1972, 40 years ago, nearly 10,000 people of Indian-origin fled Idi Amin's Uganda and arrived in the depressed, deprived and unwelcoming town of Leicester on a cold, misty morning. They were not officially, welcome. That year, the Leicester City Council warned Indians in a newspaper advertisement that it was "in your own interests and those of your not come to Leicester." Forty years on, the situation could not be more different. Not only has the Indian community worked hard and prospered over the years, it has also transformed a declining town into a buzzing multicultural haven. Things have progressed drastically since 1972, passengers at the Leicester train station are greeted with welcome signs in Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati, among other languages, while local radio stations Sabras Radio and BBC Asian network belt out latest Bollywood numbers and interviewers with stars.

Photo: A temple in the UK

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Photo: A Little India Restaurant in the UK Dean Mohammed opened up a restaurant in London and was known most adverts read this as “Indian dishes, in the highest perfection… Unequalled by any curries ever made in England’. Many Indians had to depend on their own personal recipes while others could have utilised some of the curry and pilau recipes that were to be found in Hannah Glasse’s ‘The Art of Cookery’ which dated back to 1747. Janet Clarke, an antiquarian bookseller, commented that many of the earlier recipes were very mild and were flavoured more with herbs than spices. She went on to say that it was common to find curries and pilaus flavoured with coriander seeds, peppercorns, lemon juice and salt.

Photo: An Indian restaurant in the UK When it came to the 19th Century more ingredients had become available and were used in these recipes: fenugreek, cumin, ginger, turmeric and cayenne, for example. She has even recreated some of the old recipes and the results were amazing. Ivan Day, a historian specialising in food, also commented on how the ways of cooking Indian food was very different: frying meat in fat (such as ghee) was alien to the British. They also had to get used to the fact that the herbs and spices were not fresh, but had taken 6 months to arrive by boat.

Photo: Indian restaurant in the UK Indians described their dishes based on the ingredients, for example ‘Korma’ or ‘Bhuna’ so where does the word ‘curry’ come from? It has been suggested that the Tamil word for sauce, ‘Kari’ has lead to the name, but a cookbook published in 1390 referred to dishes as ‘cury’, which related to any hot and spicy dish.

TEA CHAI NAKI? George Orwell wrote an essay on how to make tea perfectly, in 1946. On 23 September 1658, the London republican newspaper Mercurius Politicus carried the first advert for tea in the British isles, announcing that a “China drink called by the Chinese, Tcha, by other Nations Tay alias Tee” was available in a coffee house in the city. When Kolkata says Cha-Cha they are not about to dance. They are about to sit down and drink a cup of tea. Tea smuggled into Darjeeling by a Scotsman, has come to define evenings in India's City of Joy. The afternoon “Cha Khawa” culture is a love affair that no one in Kolkata is spared from starting from the lady of the house and mama near the traffic signal on the road, to the lazy office babu.


Photo: Bhangra in the UK Back in the 1980s, the influx of first and second generation Indian students attending university gave birth to competitive UK Bhangra. The traditional Punjabi folk dance, which has an undeniable popularity worldwide, is somewhat of a staple of the British Asian experience. Asian and Indian societies from universities, polytechnics and colleges would enter teams and regularly travel across the UK to take part in Bhangra competitions. Competing teams would be rewarded for their creativity, technique and charisma, along with their homage to the traditions of Bhangra and Giddha dancing originating from the Punjab.

Photo: An Indian making tea in the UK Before 1815, Europe only knew of Chinese tea. The habit of drinking tea was created by the Dutch who imported tea from Java and China. Tea trade became a highly lucrative business. Tea drinking itself has evolved in many ways, with every region of this vast country making their own chai variants. There are humble roadside chaiwallas making hundreds of steaming cups that connect all strata of society, and on the other end of the spectrum are the gourmet stores that sell and serve fine Indian tea. UK grew to love tea in a similar fashion. Once the middle classes were drinking it, huge taxes were whacked on it, and tea-smuggling became a serious problem. It took William Pitt the Younger to see sense and remove the taxes before the working class could afford to settle down for a nice brew. By the mid-18th century, tea had became the country’s most popular drink – pushing ale and gin from their place in British hearts. Before long, the East India Company was using tea clippers, such as the Cutty Sark, to bring the harvest from India as fast as possible, and, in 1908, the teabag was invented, revolutionising the making of the 165m cups of tea drunk in the UK every day.

Photo: Buying tea in the UK

Photo: Bhangra in the UK The Bhangra Showdown, organised by Imperial College Punjabi society, marked the first official UK Bhangra competition. It had a number of universities around the UK participating. The knowledge of Bhangra was limited at the time and was mostly influenced by the North American Bhangra scene, which had been established earlier on. Bhangra music has also played an increasingly pivotal role in British culture and can now be heard across the soundscapes of multicultural cities around the globe, in mainstream fashion and advertising, and in the songs and music of Bollywood films. British bhangra's centres of music industry are increasingly located in Birmingham and London, from where its musical products are distributed and performed internationally. Punjabi folk music became a genre of popular music in post-war Britain, particularly in the midlands. It draws attention to key cities and regions, such as Birmingham, Walsall and the Black Country, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester, in terms of how they have sustained the cultural production of this music and its industry.

Photo: Album cover of an Indian musician


Pictures (from left to right): Mira Nair (filmmaker), Jeet Thayil (Poet), Raman Mundair (Playwright), Daljeet Nagra (Novelist), Vikram Seth (Novelist & Poet)

INTRODUCTION The thematic representation in all of diasporic writings are quite similar all across the board, especially when it comes to the Indian literature writers in the United Kingdom. It demonstrates that the inner needs of all human beings are the same. Alienation is a part of the experience of the Indian diaspora and even if people are at home in any part of the world it does not mean that they will not become victims of the sense of alienation. Increasing acceptance into the host society does not indicate that the diasporic characters can feel at home. It is also true that Indian diasporic writing is full of the feelings of alienation, love for the homeland a double identification with the original homeland and the adopted country, crisis of identity, mythic memory and the protest against discrimination in the adopted country. Diasporic writings are to some extent about the business of finding new angles to enter reality; the distance geographical and cultural, enables new structures of feeling. The hybridity is subversive. It resists cultural authoritarianism and challenges official truths. Ahmad Aizaz, in In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures (1992) states that “one of the most relevant aspects of diasporic writing is that it forces, interrogates and challenges the authoritative voices of time”. A diasporic text must have a structure of location followed by dislocation and relocation. There should be crossing of borders or boundaries, moving from one culture to another and sense of alienation, resistance, reaction, assimilation and so on. There must be longing and memory for home and the feeling of being exiled and displaced. A diasporic text must portray the experience of dislocation. Among the diasporic writers, we may find several types. The superb novelist Kamala Markandaya, author of Nectar in a Sieve and The Golden Honeycomb, settled in Britain, but like Anand found it increasingly difficult to find outlets for her writing in this county. Markandya straddles the divide between the two generations, almost always writing about India but doing so with a detachment perhaps bred of distance. A breakthrough for literature from the sub-continent obviously came with the publication in 1981 of Salman Rushdie’s second novel Midnight’s Children. The book was massively influential, winning not only the Booker Prize for Fiction but also the ‘Booker of Bookers’ when the prize celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. At a stroke the British novel joined up with what had been happening in European and American fiction, particularly in terms of magic realism. In an essay entitled ‘Imaginary Homelands’ Rushdie examined the position of the diasporic past-colonial writer. In later novels, The Ground Beneath Her Feet and Fury, he continued to survey the migratory cross-cultural complexity of modern society, increasingly seeing America rather than Britain as the true cauldron of globalisation. The commercial success of the musical Bombay Dreams, with music by A.R. Rahman and book by Meera Syal, may help Indian playwriting to move out of the theatrical margins. The Royal National Theatre has staged two plays by Tanika Gupta, The Waiting Room and Sanctuary, and the Young Vic Company commissioned an Asian version of Harold Brighouse northern comedy Hobson’s Choice from her. This follows in a tradition begun by Jatinder Verma at Tara Arts with his Production of an ‘Indianised’ Tartuffe. Firadus Kanaga, essayist and commentator à la Chaudhuri; Aamer Hussain, short story writer, Sunetra Gupta, novelist and scientist, Rukhsana Ahmad, translator and playwright Ranjit Bolt, poet and translator; Debjani Chatterjee, poet and editor: the ‘middle generation’ is vibrant and innovative. Since none of these has yet won the public reputation of a Rushdie or a Kureishi, the jury is out on whether they are to be regarded as minor figures, interesting for what they tell us about the transitional nature of modern Britain. They speak for a diaspora which is apparently still in an early phase of its literary development. Their canvas tends to be far smaller than Rushdie’s and their focus more realistic. They eschew fantastical elaborations of language or narrative. An exception, at least in scare, is A. Sivanandan, but though he was only published in the 1990s he comes from an earlier generation. There is still an equivocation of belonging in some of the younger writers. Amit Chaudhuri, the most fastidious of them in terms of style and technique, belongs more to Calcutta than to England.

wOMEN AND WRITING In the past, the work of Indian women writers has been undervalued due to patriarchal assumptions about the superior worth of male experience. One factor contributing to this prejudice is the fact that most of these women write about the enclosed domestic space, and women’s perceptions of their experience within it. Consequently, it is assumed that their work will automatically rank below the works of male writers who deal with „weightier themes. Additionally, Indian women writers in English are victims of a second prejudice, vis-à-vis their regional counterparts. Since proficiency in English is available only to writers of the intellectual, affluent, educated classes, a frequent judgement is made that the writers and their works belong to a high social strata, and are cut off from the reality of Indian life. The majority of these novels depict the psychological suffering of the frustrated housewife, this subject matter often being considered superficial compared to the depiction of the repressed and oppressed lives of women of the lower classes that we find in regional authors writing in Hindi, Bengali and other native languages. The achievements of the Asian Women Writers Collective must not be overlooked. Syal was one writer who was nurtured in this stable, though hers was a twintrack trajectory since she also established herself as a successful actress. The two streams converge in her emergence as one of the best screenwriters in the country. Ravinder Randhawa, Leena Dhingra (also an actress), Tanika Gupta and others produced work in various genres that spoke of life in a swiftly changing culturally diverse new Britain. The collective explored questions of identity, racism and feminism, and the very fact that they could confidently project themselves as ‘Asian women writers’ was itself significant in a culture that was sometimes perceived to deny black and Asian women adequate opportunities for self-expression.

themes across diaspora The diasporic literature arises under these circumstances. The broken psyche of the immigrants sheds off its psychosis into writing. Therefore, the migrant writer feels a forceful need to write and with their multicultural ethos and a profound understanding of socio-cultural and economic realities around them, they have been successful in transforming their experiences into writings. Another important reason for writing by the creative talent in the diasporic community is to make their existence recognized. The very act of creation is a purposeful effort to form a cultural identity. Diasporic writing unfolds these experiences of unsettlement and dislocation, at some or the other level. A diasporic text can be investigated in terms of location, dislocation and relocation. The changing designation of home and accompanying nervousness about homelessness and infeasibility of going back are recurrent themes in diasporic literature. The expatriate literature also deals mostly with the inner conflict in the context of cultural displacement. The immigrants away from the families fluctuate between crisis and reconstruction. They are thrice alienated from the native land they left behind, from their new host country and their children. Diaspora literature is in constant conversation with the metahome. The longing to regain lost home often culminates in the creation of a different version of home. As Salman Rushdie observers; “... one physical alienation from India at almost inevitably means that we will not be capable of redeeming precisely the thing that was lost, that will, in short, create fictions not actual cities or villages, but invisible ones, imaginary homelands, Indians of mind.”(Rushdie, 1991:10) Nostalgia, loss, betrayal and duty are the foundations of new homes as diasporic protagonist adjust to new countries. In adjusting to new countries, issues of acculturation and assimilation become the central point as these immigrants negotiate the unbalance of their hyphenated identities. Usually, the first generation diaspora clings to food and clothes as the most obvious markers of Indianness that sets them apart and highlights their difference. The insistence on this difference is often a conscious declaration of belonging to another place. On the other hand, second generation diaspora declines and removes such identity markers to assimilate the dominant culture.

THEME 1: TRADITIONAL VALUES “Indian-ness is now a metaphor, a particular way of partially comprehending the world. Though the characters in these stories are or were Indian, I see most of these as stories of broken identities and discarded languages and the will to bond oneself to a new community against the ever-present fear of failure and betrayal.”(Mukherjee 1985). This ethnic identity of Indian-ness is something that saw a massive struggle across generations of diaspora. A few examples of writers who signify traditional values are Daljit Nagra and Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, a playwright who did a play called Behzti (2004), meaning dishonour in Punjabi. Behzti ignited violent protests and riots by local Sikh leaders when it debuted at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. This is the kind of attachment that Indians in UK still have to their religious or traditional roots, even though their lifestyles may have turned ‘modern’.

THEME 2: PARENTS & CHILDREN While second generation children often reject their parents’ social expectations, immigrant parents are not simply flat representations of static societies. They are also individuals who have broken away from their original communities in moving to the alien lands. Thus, the second generation diaspora writers portray complex parental characters who are themselves double figures. It is also very important to note that Indian Diaspora writers are different from one another among themselves in many ways. Their attributes vary with regard to their choice of themes, points of view and narrative techniques. Rohinton Mistry writes very differently from Jhumpa Lahiri. Meena Alexander is different from Rushdie or from the other Indian writers living and writing abroad. The cultural baggage which these diasporic writers carry is different and unique to the region from which they come. But they are unanimous in expressing nostalgic outpourings. Their ways of adapting is also different, for in India, there are vast differences with regard to time cherished traditions. It is only natural that when these diasporic writers start writing, they write about the customs, tradition, dress and cuisine, peculiar to the region from where they come. In a way they bring the sa me rich diversity that exists in India into their writings by portraying the minute details of their rites, dress and cuisine into the literature that they create.

THEME 3: NOSTALGIA Diasporic writing mostly becomes a response to the lost homes and to issues such as dislocation, nostalgia, discrimination, survival, cultural change and identity. Dislocation is one of the first feelings that haunt a diasporic community. There are several factors which are the reasons for the dislocation of a community from their home country to a foreign land. These can be broadly divided into two such as voluntary and non-voluntary movements. Voluntary movements, can occur due to two reasons namely educational and economical need. On the other hand, non-voluntary movements occur due to political and national compulsions and in the case of women, it could be marriage. When diasporic people find themselves dislocated from the home society, they are upset mentally and strive to remember and locate themselves in a nostalgic past.

THEME 4: IDENTITY One of the key problems that a diasporic community faces is the predicament with regard to identity. It is one of the most common themes in their literature, and in many cases the search for self-identity is portrayed as confusing, painful and only occasionally rewarding. Some write semi- autobiographical novels, delving into personal pasts in order to either discover or re-examine their motivations and affinities. Others use fictional characters and situations to question traditional norms, testing, trying, and occasionally reinforcing (whether internally or otherwise) notions of race and culture. The second and later generations of the diasporic community generally display a dual identity. Although the second and later generations of the diasporic community consider the country in which they are born as the home country, the society still perceives them as outsiders and therefore they are caught in a hyphenated identity. Kwame Dawes’ words as quoted in Weedon’s article “Migration, Identity, and Belonging in British Black and South Asian Women's Writing” substantiates this issue, “They were born there or have grown up there all their life. They are uncomfortable with the notion of a home elsewhere for they have no sense of exile. Their sole exile is the exile within their own home country.”






Writer and academic Preti Taneja’s debut novel We That Are Young, released in 2017, reimagines Shakespeare’s King Lear set in contemporary India, inspired by the parallels she has drawn between the original text and the her parents’ homeland.

Best known for The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian, published in 1951. Over the course of his literary career, he received numerous accolades for his writing.His oeuvre provides a magisterial appraisal of the histories and cultures of India, especially in the context of British colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Award-winning poet Daljit Nagra’s parents came to the UK from India in the late 1950s. His poem “Look We Have Coming to Dover!” explores the experience of British-born Indians, and he was recently commissioned to write a poem about his home town of Harrow, North London.




Born in England, has successfully represented the lives of first generation as well as second generation non-resident Indians in the West in her novels Anita and Me And Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee. Hari Kunzru in is novel Transmission traces a part of the lives of three diverse characters Leela Zahir, an actress, Arjun Mehta, a computer expert, and Guy Swift, a marketing executive traversing through Bollywood, the Silicon Valley, and London

Bye Bye Blackbird and The Nowhere Man. Two of the earliest novels that have effectively depicted diasporic Indian characters are These novels reveal how racial prejudice against Indians in the UK of 1960’s isolates the character and deepen their sense of displacement. The two writers made their mark in the field of literature by capturing the essence of prejudice, race and discrimination leading to the ‘identity of a ‘Nowhere Man’.

Also a highly respected poet among the diasporic writers in England. Having written poems such as Mappings (1980), The Humble Administrator's Garden(1985) , All You Who Sleep Tonight (1990) etc, he was also commissioned by the English National Opera to write a libretto based on the Greek legend of Arion and the Dolphin. He uses themes of romantic tales and a very iinteresting idea of table manners that he uses to convey the tryst that Indian diaspora has with, modernity.




Has created waves with his first novel A Suitable Boy. Through this novel, like most of the expatriate writers, he is looking back at a land left behind, a home that is on the edge of vanishing into the darker recesses of the memory. He was born in India but has been in England since the 80s.

In his novel Afternoon Raag, portrays the lives of Indian students in Oxford. He depicted the positive aspect of displacement by showing the benefits of living as a migrant, the opportunity of having a double perspective of being able to experience diverse cultural modes. Hr e brings about the aspects of migration and diversity.

Born in Ludhiana, India, came to the UK at the age of five. She calls herself as an "outsider writer" and says that she has come to appreciate her states of "unbelonging" as they allow her to transcend boundaries and "belong" anywhere. Her famous work include A Choreographer's Cartography and Lovers, Liars, Conjurers and Thieves






In 2015, UK-based Gill started uploading her poems on Instagram (nikita_gill), a medium that had just started to get people curious about it. Today, she’s a published author with three titles under her belt; her latest being Wild Embers: Poems of Rebellion, Fire and Beauty. The themes explored by all these writers are similar: loss, suffering, migration, displacement — feelings that most young readers experience but are unable to put into words. “I find these emotions cathartic as opposed to draining. Ever since I was a child, the world overwhelmed me and often. I empathised with pain, which was sometimes occurring halfway across the world. And to clear my head of all those negative emotions, I’d write them down,” says Gill.

Behzti (2004): Meaning dishonour in Punjabi, Behzti ignited violent protests and rioting by local Sikh leaders when it debuted. The majority of the play takes place in a Gurudwara and includes a particularly controversial scene involving rape, physical abuse, and murder. The play brought up debates over to what extent religious sensitivities should matter in multicultural Britain. Two days later the play was cancelled with Bhatti being forced into hiding. In 2010, it was finally re-staged in London. The blasphemy argument is no longer a credible reason to censor or cancel plays.

As a playwright, is unmatched in his bilingual creativity and in the reworking of India’s various pasts. Although his works were focused on reimagination Indian myths, his presence in the Indian diasporic community of playwrights in England put Indians on the map in England. This fame and reputatiom earned by people like Karnad have left a plane for younger playrights to take over new aspects and adapt Indian mythology and stories to fit the aspects of nostalgia and home, opening the horizon of Indian playwrights in the United Kingdom.



She is a young playwright who was born and grew up in Chennai, India. Through her play called ‘Free, Outgoing’ she proves that even Asians born and living in their ancestral homeland are not at all cut off from the influences of the West pressing upon Asian identity. This play explores the contradiction between India’s embrace of Western technology and adherence to traditional values.

The author of the libretto for the opera Babur in London, commissioned by the UK-based Opera Group with music by the Zürich-based British composer Edward Rushton. The world premiere of Babur took place in Switzerland in 2012, followed by tours to the United Kingdom (where it shows at theatres in London and Oxford) and India. At the work's core is an exploration about the complexities of faith and multiculturalism in modern-day Britain.

podcasts BIDISHA MAMATA In 2015, UK-based Gill started uploading her poems on Instagram (nikita_gill), a medium that had just started to get people curious about it. Today, she’s a published author with three titles under her belt; her latest being Wild Embers: Poems of Rebellion, Fire and Beauty. The themes explored by all these writers are similar: loss, suffering, migration, displacement — feelings that most young readers experience but are unable to put into words. “I find these emotions cathartic as opposed to draining. Ever since I was a child, the world overwhelmed me and often. I empathised with pain, which was sometimes occurring halfway across the world. And to clear my head of all those negative emotions, I’d write them down,” says Gill.



Was born in Ludhiana, India and came to live in the UK at the age of five. Mundair’s work for theatre is often philosophical and political, engaging and questioning. Recurring themes include loss, faith, loyalty, redemption and compassion. She has written plays such as Side Effects and the algebra of freedom.

Born in Kanpur UP, she moved to Birmingham when her mother remarried a british citizen. She developed interest in the London/UK hip-hop scene and was in many ways the pioneer of hip-hop in the Indian diaspora. She was one of the first female Indian rappers and this was only made possible by her fans of the Indian diasporic community (through social media, internet, Youtube) in UK. She also became famous in Bollywood with movies like Johnny Gaddar.

The New Home

Green Street in East London is a bustling affair on the weekend. Green, orange, white and blue, the different colors of the hoardings, mangoes, hockey sticks and cricket bats, bookstores that also sell peacock feathers, and one couldn’t miss the three-headed lions ivory statue standing outside the antique store. Green Street in East London is a bustling affair because of the people who shop there. In the crowd of the Indian shopping district in Green-street, a mother and her teenage daughter wade through a swarm of people on the streets looking for things to buy from their homeland at an exorbitant price. Intense negotiations ensue at every store. Shibani, a woman in her early 40’s carrying a jute bag that says I do not quote from the scriptures, I simply see what I see, walks down the pavement with her daughter looking for things to buy for their new home. Saurabhi, who just turned 18 in the month of July, is an Instagram star. Her 3 line poems reach thousands of her followers every morning and her one-liner captions always a thousand more. Shibani, always found this habit of her daughter to be something of a bother. Saurabhi, would argue for days about how Instagram is a great way to reach out to the masses and her mother would tell her how reaching out to the masses means nothing if you don’t make them think. “We came here thinking we would start a new community of people who believe in ideals that we brought from our homeland. But we didn’t want them to follow us, we wanted your generation to lead us. That’s why we kept silent all these years so that you could have better education and have a better life. But what do you do -- write these meaningless poems on Instagram. Few people read the poem and see the photo, tar por ki? They leave a like and comment, beautiful. I wish I could write like you. Arre, Kamala Das fought with her hands for us, Gandhi took a bullet, aar tumi sudhu phone lege thako. Reply with more hearts.” Saurabhi, reddened by anger would retort with fire in her tongue. “I didn’t come from India, I was born here. I didn’t ask for this burden of heritage, it was placed on me. They won’t let me be and neither will you. How can this be fair? Do you want me to stand or stay on my knee?” As they sift through shops looking for decorations for their new home, they walk past an antique electricals store. The store itself was filled with dust and spider webs, the store owner Kuldeep Singh, believed it added aesthetic value to his products. “Ki re, we should have a table lamp for your study table na?” Shibani asked Saurabhi as she grabbed her by the arm and pulled her towards the store. “What! No, I already have an LED lamp and my room is just fine the way it is,” said Saurabhi but her mother didn’t hear her at all as she led her into the dingy and dusty shop illuminated with yellow lamps. “Kuldeep er shop ta same to same rolo. Nungra chei. I hope there are no snakes here.” “Maa, this is London. There are no snakes in London. I can see spiders though.” Kuldeep Singh, the store owner appeared from behind one of the shelves. His turban was dusty from having come in contact with his artifacts. However shabby, his appearance was, his grey beard, barrel chest, and his booming smile seemed to light up the dark store. Saurabhi quickly took his picture and began typing on his phone. “Accha, Kuldeep da, how are you? How is Minidi?” Shibani knew most of the store owners in Green Street. “Arrey, Shibani di, Khub bhalo KHUB BHALO,” said Kuldeep as he erupted in raucous laughter, and then he suddenly shrunk, “But Mini is not jollygood. She had some bad food and now her temper is breaking like low-quality plywood. But koi nai, she will be fine in few days. Once she drinks some nice milk with haldi from Mishra’s shop, she will be fit one hundred percent. Now tell me, would you like to buy my fans, bulbs, and shaddi ki lights?” “Na Na, I hope Minidi gets well soon, tara tari. Not fans or bulbs, I came to buy your table lamps for my choto shona.” “We are not here to shop for my room, I will pick what I need for my room, you pick things for the rest of the house. Okay?” “Baba re! Kamor debe naki? Your room is part of our house and since we are here to shop for our new home, we need to decide what we have to buy together.” Saurabhi winced at her mother and returned to her phone. Shibani shook her head and continued, “Kuldeepji, you see the kids these days don’t care about us and our beliefs, they think they know everything and we are just old people who came from some foreign land and don’t understand what’s going on here. I am telling you, these girls and boys are not different from the firangs in any way.” Kuldeep let out an explosive laughter, bits of dust fell from the ceiling, “Shibanidi, aap sahi bol rahe ho. Maybe we are old but we still remember the day we landed in Heathrow airport and rented our shops here. It was not easy for us. Hum Chehre par muskaan liye ghoomte the par in our hearts only thought of the home we left behind. For you it is in Kolkata, for me it is in Amritsar. How can we forgive these people for what happened to us? But we must, for our children, we must accept and move forward.” “Kuldeepda, you don’t get emotional now. I am feeling very hungry and this girl won’t look up from her phone. I will come back in half an hour haan. Give my regards to Minidi.” said Shibani and turned to Saurabhi, who looked up at her mother. “Accha, come let’s go to Bangla Bazaar and buy some chicken patis. Khub Khide payeche.” Saurabhi nodded and followed her mother out of the store, but not before leaving a smile for Kuldeep uncle.

I am home, But I am told everyday, It is not mine.


As they left the dusty old store, Saurabhi fell in step beside her mother. Their shoes clapped against the wet pavement of Green Street. It was drizzling. They turned around the corner and Saurabhi recognized a graffiti on the wall. It was a Banksy - The Yellow Lines Painter. Painted on the side of a working man’s club, the Banksy shows a painter in overalls whose job is to paint yellow lines on the pavement, taking a break after painting double yellow lines that turn into a large yellow flower on a wall. What remained of the original was only that which Banksy painted on the wall, the actual painting ran all the way across the pavement and on to the road to join the yellow lines. The painter was barely recognizable now but Saurabhi knew exactly what this was. She immediately whipped out her phone and clicked a picture. #Banksy “Wow, there you go again. I see this every day, why do you have to take pictures of everything and post on Instagram? Can we please get to Bangla Bazaar, Khub khide peyeche.” “Maa, do you know whose work of art this is? This is a Banksy, his work is internationally recognized by the art world and everyone else. Do you know that he uses a rat in his artwork because it is an anagram for art.” “Re paagli, this is not art. Art is not what you see but what you make others see. Do you think painting on walls is art? This is not even a good painting.” “Banksy’s signature style of using stencils to create street art came from a need for speed. Banksy is not your average artist who will wait for his work to be placed in a gallery for everyone to see. When Banksy paints people crowd around the area to see. Banksy is for everyone and he doesn’t paint for critics to recognize him. He is spreading a message of peace. Yeah, his art is over simplistic but it is so that there is no confusion on what he is trying to say. He or she is not concerned with creating the next Monalisa, whom no one knows why she is smiling. His intent is more universal. He draws our attention to what not everyone can see, the working man’s dreams. Don’t you see Maa, Banksy is drawing for all of us.” “Naa, tumi bolle holo naki? Banksy does not make me feel anything, his art relies on pure shock value. It is a marketing stunt. Don’t be fooled by these gimmicks, baba then these firangs can fool you into believing anything. True art comes from long deliberations and arduous hours of work. This is an hour’s work, this is why the citizens of today are so hell-bent on doing everything so fast that they have forgotten that the true worth of work is seen in the details. People have given up their lives to protect art and what it signifies…” Shibani looks away from her daughter. Saurabhi moves closer to her mother and falls in step beside her as she looks at the crumbling Banksy in the corner of an Indian shopping area. “Maa, I know you miss Daadu a lot.” Shibani clenches her fists to stop her tears from flowing out. “I wasn’t even born then but from your stories, I can tell that he really loved you and cared for everyone around him. He gave up his life for a reason Maa, he fought because he wanted to give you and me a better life, and he succeeded. Look where we are now, in the very country that colonized us. We are the largest and most prosperous community in England and we are respected and welcomed by the English themselves. Today, we are as much a part of England as they are a part of ours.”

“I know you want me to be more Indian in my dressing, and my tastes but Maa, I am Indian. Look, I am just like you but in a different time. My poems talk of the same pain that you read of in your hardbound books of Jeet. I just like to write on Instagram, does that make me so bad? Yes, in your eyes I am more like Banksy who doesn’t understand the culture and history of art, just as I don’t understand the trials and tribulations of your generation. But I didn’t move here, I was born here. This is where I spoke my first words and yet people ask me where my home is. We are the same, you and I. aama der bhasha may not be the same, but we are both speaking from the heart. I am your daughter and I have my own identity to preserve. I can’t do that if you keep asserting yours on me. We cannot live in the same way, but we can believe in the same things.” Shibani looked down at her daughter. Her eyes were red, not with anger but with tears. She was crying, not in shame, but with pride and knowledge that had been passed on from those that came before her. Green Street in East London is a bustling affair on the weekend. Green, orange, white and blue, the different colors of the hoardings, mangoes, hockey sticks and cricket bats, bookstores that also sell peacock feathers, and one couldn’t miss the three-headed lions ivory statue standing outside the antique store. Green Street in East London is a bustling affair because of the people who shop there. It is not just the British Indians buying groceries, and tea imported from Darjeeling, English folk flock to the stores to acquire rare spices and other assortments of goodies that arrive from India. India is as much a part of England today as England is a part of Indian history. The New Home is a harmonious place where everyone bickers and fights but neither can live without the other.

Scents of home

The scents of Green street bring back memories Of my mother and my motherland. Each familiar fa,ce and sound doing its bit To bring home back within the grasp of my hand. I am someone else in this land A strange, an outsider, treated as such. I do not want to belong to them, no more. So this does not bother me too much. But they will no longer tell me they are better than me. That is what my dadu fought. I might have left home, but home will not leave me. In their webs of deception, I will no longer be caught. I may be far away, but I am not adrift. My nostalgia is my anchor, My memories my compass. I will find my way back to my answer.


Anilcherianmani. “INDIAN DIASPORA IN THE UK-1.”, YouTube, 6 Feb. 2015, Indiandiplomacy. "Bridging Worlds A Meeting of Minds: The Story of Indians in the United Kingdom." YouTube, 06 Oct. 2014.


Hear, Nicholas Van, Anna Lindley, Frank Pieke, and Steven Vertovec. The Contribution of UK-based Diasporas to Development and Poverty Reduction: A Report by the ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford, for the Department for International Development. Oxford: COMPAS, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, 2004. Print. Chanda, Rupa, and Sriparna Ghosh. "The Punjabi Diaspora in the UK: An Overview of Characteristics and Contributions to India." SSRN Electronic Journal (2013): n. pag. Print. Sharma, Sheetal. "Immigrants in Britain: A Study of the Indian Diaspora." Diaspora Studies 5.1 (2012): 14-43. Print.


Mishra, Vijay. The Literature of the Indian Diaspora: Theorizing the Diasporic Imaginary. N.p.: Routledge, 2014. Print. Kuznecov, Yevgeny N. Diaspora Networks and the International Migration of Skills: How Countries Can Draw on Their Talent Abroad. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2006. Print.

Individual roles ANANYA NANDA : Economic, Social and Political - Content Creation, Curation and Research AISHWARYA KANDUKURI Introduction of Indian diaspora in United Kingdom - Content Creation, Curation and Research SANDEEP SEN ‘Little Indias’ and processes - Content Creation, Research, Images KESHAV SURYANARAYANAN Timeline of Migration and Mediums of travel - Content Creation Design, Graphics, Maps, Arranging and Formatting


Alexander, M. (n,d.), The Kenyon Review, Interview with Meena Alexander.(R.Maxey, Interviewer) J.G. Ravi Kumar Diasporic Women Writers: As a Social Perspective IJAHMS Vol 01,No.12, December, 2015, ISSN No,2395-0692 N. Jayaram, Ed, 2004. The Indian Diaspora: Dynamics of Migration. Vol.4 Sage: New Delhi Pandey, Abhay. 2008. Indian Diasporic Literature: Creative, New Delhi. Prbal J. Roddannavar, Themes seen in Diasporic Writings, AJMS, Vol12, Issues3, March 2014, ISSN:2321-8819. ONLINE ANVESHANA INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN EDUCATION, LITERATURE, VOLUME 1, ISSUE 2 (2016, Nov/Dec) (ISSN-2456-3897) PSYCHOLOGY AND LIBRARY SCIENCES Alastair Niven, South Asian Diaspora literature in Britain Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Diasporas Old and New: Women in the Transnational World.” Textual Practice 10 (1996): 245-69. Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture London: Routledge, 1994.pp 77 Dodiya, Jaydipsinh. Indian Women Novelists in English. New Delhi: Sarup and Sons,2006 Ghosh, Amitav. “The Diaspora in Indian Culture” from,The Imam and the Indian: Prose Pieces, New Delhi: Ravi Dayal Publishers and Permanent Black, 2002. Rushdie, Salman. “Imaginary Homelands” from Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991,, London: Granta Books, 1991 Braziel, Jana Evans & Anita Mannur. (Eds.) Theorizing Diaspora: A reader.Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003 Chaudhuri, Amit (ed.). The Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature, London: Picador, 2001. Lahiri, Jhumpa.The Namesake. New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2003. Bharati Mukherjee, 1999, Darkness, Penguin India, New Delhi. Bharati Mukherjee,1990.Jasmine Grove Weidenfeld, New York Desai, Anita. 1985. Bye Bye Blackbird. Delhi: Orient Paperbacks. Desai, Kiran. 2006. The Inheritance of Loss, Grove Press, New York.

WEBSITES Rau Badami Seth, The Criterion: An International Journal in English ISSN 0976-8165

individual roles ANANYA NANDA Brainstorming for Creative Piece

- Research, Content Creation and Curation

AISHWARYA KANDUKURI Mediums of diasporic literature and various writers - Content Creation, Curation and Research Brainstorming for Creative Piece SANDEEP SEN Creative Piece as Short Story - Content KESHAV SURYANARAYANAN Poetry - Content Brainstorming for Creative Piece

Study Guide - Indian Diaspora in the UK  
Study Guide - Indian Diaspora in the UK