have better presence in UK's civil service
and Parliament, says Swraj Paul
London, Oct. 2, 2005
In keeping with its economic achievements
and political visibility, the Indian community in
Britain must have a better presence in the UK's civil
service and Parliament, NRI industrialist Lord Swraj
Paul, has said.
"With the enhancement of our achievements, our
political visibility as a community in the UK has
increased but we are still under-represented in political
life here. The presence of the Indian community in
the civil service, for example, has not kept pace
with the community's overall economic profile.
"We need more representation in Parliament,
something that Prime Minister Tony Blair has himself
called for and spoken about," Lord Paul said
delivering the keynote address at the Leicestershire
Asian Business Association Annual dinner at Leicester,
about 160 km from here.
He suggested that Government and political leaders
could come together with business leaders to ensure
ethnic inclusion at the top of large firms in London.
"This would be a gain to both employers and society,"
Lord Paul, the Ambassador for British Overseas Business,
He also requested the Indian community to exercise
its franchise in elections. "As a community,
I am not asking you to vote for one party or another.
It is your choice and that is the beauty of the democratic
"Of course, it would be remiss of me here if
I did not again say that I am a Labour peer and that
I think the Labour party has raised the profile of
this country and made it very vibrant. It has also
done the most for the Asian community - perhaps not
enough - but we are working on it."
The Friday night gala dinner was attended by over
650 distinguished guests including Keith Vaz, Labour
MP and former Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth
Office, and Stephen Dorrell, MP and former Conservatives
Minister in the John Major cabinet.
At the outset, the Labour peer said "as a community,
we have good reason to be proud of our achievements:
we have contributed well to the UK economy - the per
capita income of the Indian community is higher than
the national average, in fact one of the highest among
ethnic groups in the UK.
"Our contribution to the economy of the United
Kingdom far outweighs our actual population size.
There are almost two million people of South Asian
origin in Britain. We form the largest ethnic minority
group in the UK which is both a privilege and a responsibility."
Referring to the city of Leicester, he said it has
the highest proportion of persons of Indian origin
living in the UK - 22 per cent of the population -
and it is said to be the city that has the largest
population of Indians living outside India.
Touching the heartstring of the vast gathering, Lord
Paul said "we came to this country and started
out small, but there are now so many Indians that
have risen to national prominence, from business people
to lawyers, doctors, journalists and in entertainment.
"As a community we have proven our ability to
work hard and assimilate well, and it is for good
reason that we are now increasingly being seen as
the 'model immigrant community'."