UK-Asian Population Report
The following information is taken from the "South Asian Population Report for Great Britain" which was originally produced for the TECS and the Minorities Working Group. It is based on information gathered from the 1991 Census. Its aim is to offer an insight into the South Asian community in Britain - a community of 1.5 million (in 1991, the figure is closer to 1.8 million today), with a disposable income exceeding £5 billion! The South Asian community is not only the largest minority group in the UK, but it is also the wealthiest, and they are rapidly becoming the most influential.
The 1991 SADP Census Analysis
Summary of Conclusions
Just a Flavour
The brief overview of the South Asian community in Britain that follows is, we fully accept, limited in its scope and content. The prime purpose of the report, however, is to give Training and Enterprise Councils (TECS) and other interested parties just a flavour of the achievements and economic characteristics of, and the problems faced by, South Asians in the UK. When it comes to the development of plans and strategies, the report highlights a number of important and significant issues for TECS, which, we suggest, must be taken into account if they (TECS and their partners) are to meet the needs of all sections of their communities effectively.
Issues like the dangers of applying generic descriptions such as Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi, to whole groups of people, when, within each group, we find such a rich diversity of religious, cultural and social backgrounds. The implications for the design of products and services, for marketing and communications and much more besides, are many and various.
Focus on Achievement
Putting aside the problems of using broad definitions for diverse groups of people, and turning instead to achievement, the report shows that Indians appear to have been the most successful among South Asians. More Indians, for example, can be found among the professional and managerial classes, and, again, perhaps underpinning this achievement, more Indians hold a degree or its equivalent. In respect of educational attainment, Indians are as successful as the White majority. Pakistanis and Bangladeshis on the other hand have, as the report shows, fared less well within the UK educational system. Small wonder, then, that they are less well represented within the managerial and professional occupational groups.
Why so Successful?
Why have Indians been so successful in British society? The answers are complex and beyond the scope of this report. However, two factors spring to mind. First, their success could have much to do with the fact that a high proportion of Indians now in the UK came from a middle class background. Second, their academic/success-oriented culture may fit more easily into British society than the rural/agrarian cultures of their Pakistani and Bangladeshi counterparts.
Despite their notable achievements, success within the educational system for example, it is a sad fact that Indians still suffer from a higher unemployment rate than the White population. Why? Possibly this is but one of the numerous indicators of racism - a problem faced by all too many South Asians.
Coming back to where we started, we trust that this brief introductory report will help to give TECS and other organisations a clearer, more highly focused picture of the South Asian communities in Britain. To achieve our ultimate goal of developing everyone's potential to the full, we must first seek to understand the needs of all members of our multi-racial society.