India was then considered the crowning jewel of the British Empire. Its colonization started as the East India Company expanded its commercial as well as economic interests in the country. Internal strife and opposition from the local Indian population then forced the British Empire to conquer India and complete dominion over the country. The country was eventually granted independence in 1947 and from then on established a working relationship between the UK and India.
This long history has helped establish a population of Indians living in the UK. While the first Asians from the Indian subcontinent may have reached Europe in the Middle Ages, full-blown immigration opened up with the colonization of India. From former ship hands to nannies to later on scholars and engineers from India found their way to the UK, to establish roots as Indians living in the UK. This further increased as the British economy grew, needing skilled workforce especially in IT and engineering.
Now, there are over a million Indians living in the UK. They have firmly entrenched themselves in the fabric of British society. They have endeared themselves to the British palate with the hybrid Indian dish Chicken Tikka Masala. They have become part of culture both as subjects and as artists in television and film. They have also risen to economic heights, with the country’s richest man counting himself as one of the Indians living in the UK. They are also considered as one of the more well off cultural groups in the UK, with an above average income capacity and armed with degrees from local universities.
The life of an Indian living in the UK is not all about fish and chips and roses with long walks. Discrimination is still a daily occurrence, though not as much because of the British acumen for tolerance. This has increased somewhat though after the 7/7 and 9/11 terrorist attacks, which has placed many of Indian facial features receive taunts and jabs because of their supposed Muslim influence and appetite for destruction. The greater issue though within this community is the ongoing discrimination between Indians and Pakistanis right in the UK, which is a reflection of the tension between India and Pakistan in the subcontinent thousands of miles away.
Entry into the UK though is also under fire. The European Union has recently entered into a free trade agreement with India regarding opening India to EU business in return for employment of skilled Indian workers in the EU. This agreement has been scored and criticized because of the most recent campaign promise of lowering net immigration numbers that goes against the special preference for skilled Indian workers coming into the EU and eventually the UK. This can also trigger a lowering of the average wage of locals and even Indians currently residing in the UK with the influx of new skilled migrants as a result of the free trade agreement.
As can be seen, the long history of India and the United Kingdom has established a well-assimilated and culturally vibrant community of Indians living in the UK. What the future holds though still remains to be seen, but for now, India is well within the fabric of the United Kingdom even if the home country has already been independent for so long.