Many Asians ‘Do Not Feel British’

BBC News, July 30, 2007

More than a third of British Asians do not feel British, a BBC poll suggests.

The research among the under-34s for the Asian Network found 38% of the UK residents of South Asian origin felt only slightly or not at all British.

More than a third agreed to get on in the UK they needed to be a “coconut”, a term for somebody who is “brown on the outside but white on the inside”.

ICM Research interviewed 500 Asian people aged 16-34 and 235 white people aged 18-34 between 4 and 12 July.

Of those polled 84% were satisfied with life in Britain and almost half thought they have more opportunities here.

All of the British Asians polled were of South Asian origin.

Half of them, and nearly two-thirds of the white people interviewed, agreed it was too easy for immigrants to settle in Britain.

Identity ‘important’

Three-quarters of the British Asians felt their culture was being diluted by living in the UK and nearly half believed white people did not treat them as British.

A total of 59% of the British Asians polled felt they were British, compared to 73% of white people.

Among the British Asians interviewed were 296 Muslims, 112 Hindus, 39 Sikhs and 33 Christians.

Among the Sikhs, 77% said they felt completely British or a lot. For Muslims, the figure was 64%, followed by Hindus and Christians on 46%.

The poll was commissioned to coincide with the BBC’s India and Pakistan ‘07 season of programmes to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1947 partition of India.

Some 12% of those polled said they considered themselves to be “coconuts”.

Meenal Sachdev, director of Connect India—which works with young Asians to strengthen identity—said she did not think British Asians needed to be “coconuts” to be successful.

“Identity can be a tool for success. I feel very confident about being a British Indian,” she said.

“Confidence with identity comes down to ability and knowing you have as many opportunities as other people,” she added.

Reena Combo, editor of Ikonz, a monthly Asian magazine aimed at young British Asians, said: “I feel British but I feel very Asian as well.

“Many British Asians consider themselves to be British but at home they are more in touch with their cultural and ancestral roots.”

But she agreed some British Asians thought they needed to become “coconuts”.

“They feel they need to fit into society and that society looks at them in a bad way,” she added.

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