Gujaratis In Britain

Gujaratis in Britain: Profile of a Dynamic Community

The Gujarati community makes up a dynamic and increasingly successful sector of the British population. Immigrants from New Commonwealth and Pakistan formed 4% of total UK population, i.e 2.2 million people, according to the OPCS Cencus inl981. People of Indian origin in Britain number about 1.2 million whether they or their parents came directly from India or from the many other parts of the then British Empire. Of this 1.2 million, around 600,000 are Gujaratis. They are mainly settled in metropolitan areas like Greater London, East Midlands, West Midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire. However, they are also settled far beyond the cities. Former British Prime Minister, Barroness Margaret Thatcher, pointed out in her message for 'Asian Business', they are 'not only helping to bring new life back into the inner cities, but also into our smaller towns and villages'. Approximately 65% of the Gujaratis in Britain are settled in or around London, so that Gujaratis in the capital number some 400,000. Gujaratis in Britain have earned a very creditable reputation for being hardworking and ambitious. Not only, .Barroness Margaret Thatcher, but HRH Prince Charles too and several other eminent people have prasied their achievements - and especially the achievements of those who have come from East Africa.

There is a large Gujarati business community in Britain, involved in the retail sector, wholesale, export and import, manufacturing and financial services, including banking, insurance, etc. Gujaratis are also well represented in the professions in the UK, many of them being respected doctors, accountants, solicitors, pharmacists, opticians, engineers, and others including, increasingly, in the mainstream media. The number of professionals would easily run to over 10,000, In the economic sector, the largest concentration of Gujaratis is in retailing. According to an Economist Intelligence Unit report, 48% of Britain independent retailers are now Asians. And, according to tobacco giant Rothmans Southern Sales Division, 90% of the latter's customers are Asian, almost 70% of these being Gujaratis. Based on the above statistics, one can safely presume that there are between 40,000 and 50,000 Gujarati owned businesses of various types in Britain today. These are between predominantly to be found in the grocery, CTN (confectionery, tobacconist, newsagent), convenience stores and pharmacy sector, as well as in sub-post offices, off-licences and garage forecourts.

Gujaratis in Britain are also making significant inroads into the hotel industry, it is estimated that in London area alone there are over 1,000 hotels owned by Gujaratis with an estimated investment of over £2,500 million. Among Gujaratis involved in public limited companies, some have receieved most flattering notice in the City and financial press. While the first generation is establishing its niche in economic activities, the younger generation is making spectacular advances in education. According to several reports about the numbers of Asian and Gujarati students in various schools and colleges, Gujarati youngsters would seem to be in the forefront of achievement in higher education in Briatin both quantitively and qualitively. Today there is hardly any prominent institution of learning in the United Kingdom, including such world famous names as Oxford, Cambridge and LSE, where Gujarati boys and girls are not well represented. Gujaratis in Britain have not only become prominent in both the educational and economical fields in their country of adoption, but they are also eager to contribute to various worthwhile and philanthropic projects in Britain, India and other countries. What has been achieved over the short span of the last 20 years, makes one confident that the Gujarati community will continue to make an increasing contribution to the Britain of tomorrow,

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