Indians in Leicester

UK council to thank Indians

A British council is planning to publicly thank Indian immigrants for their contribution to the economic recovery of the town.

The town of Leicester in the United Kingdom, which was once hostile to receiving Indian immigrants from Uganda, is considering a motion to thank them publicly.

Indian immigrants from Uganda arrived in Leicester on a cold morning of August 1972 – the council is marking the 40th anniversary of their arrival. The Asian migrants were expelled by Idi Amin.

Leicester, which was then struggling economically, did not want these migrants and the council even published advertisements in the Uganda media back then, saying that it was “in your own interests and those of your family… Not come to Leicester”.

“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 that is the subject of study by several European towns,” writes Prasun Sonwalkar in the Outlook India.

The public thanksgiving will become reality thanks to efforts of Leicester councillor Sundip Meghani, son of one of the many Indians expelled from Uganda.

Over the 40 years, Leicester’s attitude towards Indians has changed and many Indians are now in leadership positions in politics, such as Goa-born Labour MP Keith Vaz. Parminder Nagra, star of ‘Bend It Like Beckam’, is from Leicester.

Ludhiana-origin Manjula Sood became the first Asian woman to become the mayor of the town in 2008.

The city council, inspired by the Gujarati community’s links back home, officially twinned Leicester with Rajkot in 1996.

With one in five citizens of Leicester being Indian, it is the largest ethnic group besides the White British. Indians in Leicester are predominantly (14.74%) Hindu, and Gujarati is the primary language of 16% of the city’s residents.

“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 interviews with stars,” says the media report.

“Significantly, the first town Queen Elizabeth visited during her diamond jubilee celebrations earlier this year was Leicester, where she was welcomed by Bollywood songs and Indian dance, among other performances.”

There are nearly 1.4 million Indians in the United Kingdom.


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