LONDON: UK Hindus are ‘intelligent, wealthy and very well-bred’ with just 0.4% found in the country’s prisons in 2021, the lowest of any religious cohort, according to a media report, days after Rishi Sunak became Britain’s first Hindu Prime Minister.
England and Wales are now home to 983,000 Hindus, with cemeteries in London showing that Hindus have been coming to the UK from India for 500 years.
It is an immigration success story. There are only 329 Hindus in UK prisons, according to The Times newspaper report.
“They are better qualified than Christians and earn more. Now Rishi Sunak, a second-generation doctor’s son, is at No. 10,” the report notes.
The first major wave of Hindu migration came in 1947, after independence and the bloody partition of India, and was encouraged to fill the UK’s post-war labor shortage. Even anti-migration hardliner Enoch Powell recruited health workers from the Indian subcontinent during his tenure as health minister.
The second wave came from East Africa in the 1970s, when Idi Amin expelled the Asian population from Uganda. While 4,500 members of the diaspora fled to India, 27,000 resettled in Britain. A third wave came after the UK relaxed immigration laws for overseas students in the 1990s.
Like most religious and ethnic minorities, Hindus are concentrated around major cities: 47% of British Hindus live in London, which represents 5% of the capital’s population. The East Midlands, with concentrations around cities such as Leicester, are home to 10% of Hindus of Britain.
Yet over the past 50 years, Hindus have dispersed to most corners of the country, according to the report.
“There has been a general sprawl effect over the last generation,” says Break Katwalafounder of the British think tank Future.
“At the next census, we will see that there is a little more diversity everywhere,” he said.
He says that after two or three generations, immigrant populations tend to become more suburban.
Indian GPs, newsagents and convenience store owners who branched out into new areas contributed to the spread.
Babita Sharma, 45, is a former BBC journalist who grew up above her parents’ store in Reading.
“The corner store put people of color in every white community. It was a golden opportunity though. . . you stayed like a sore thumb,” she said.
In 2018, 59% of British Hindus said they had a tertiary education, almost double the 30% of Christians, according to the report.
Only 7.8% of British Hindus have the GCSE as their highest qualification, compared to 20% of Christians. Only 5.5% of British Hindus have no formal qualifications, he said.
The cliché of the demanding Indian parent – ​​as satirized in the 1990s sitcom Goodness Gracious Me – appears to have a basis in reality, he added.
The first cohorts of Indian migrants were poorly paid to fill gaps in the British unskilled labor market. Many have started their own businesses to escape low pay and discrimination in the workplace.
In 2012, Hindus living in London had a net worth of £277,400 (including property), second only to the Jewish community. Hindus have the third lowest poverty rate, behind Jews and Christians. Hindus receive the second highest hourly wage among religious groups in the UK behind the Jewish community, earning £13.80 an hour.
“[Our children] saw us working so hard, day in and day out, seven days a week, almost 12 hours a day, and I don’t think they want to work like that. I always told them, “We work hard so you don’t have to,” says Prit, who still owns a shop.
The most recent census showed that 15.4% of British Indians, almost 50% of whom are Hindus, held professional and senior management positions, the highest proportion of any group, according to the report.
In 2018, more than 40% of British Hindus were in “high-skilled employment”. Again, only Jews ranked higher, with British Sikhs third, he said.
Sunak, the son of a general practitioner and a pharmacist, was then a banker at Goldman Sachs before embarking on a political career.
In 2021, just 0.4% of prisoners in the UK identified as Hindu, the lowest of any religious cohort. Those with higher education, income, and socioeconomic status are less likely to commit crimes in general, so it may be that the low crime statistics are due to high Hindu social mobility.
Trupti Patel, president of the Hindu Forum of Britain, says faith itself, along with strong community ties, also deters crime. Hindus tend to live in large households – 3.2 people in Britain, compared to an average of 2.4 – with extended families bringing stability to young people.
“If someone does something wrong, the whole community will stand up and say, ‘That’s totally wrong, you shouldn’t do it,'” she says, adding that fear of shame plays a part.
But the picture is not all rosy, as last month’s clashes in Leicester between groups of Hindu and Muslim youths showed, with some suggesting that the rise of Hindu nationalism in India is fueling anti-Muslim sentiment in Britain. Britain, according to the report.
While the first waves of Asian immigrants to the UK identified strongly with Labour, recent elections have seen a decline in support for the party among Hindus and a shift to the Conservatives. South Asian Muslims and Sikhs remained aligned with Labour.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron tried to diversify the Conservative Party to secure Britain’s ethnic minority voters, who still vote disproportionately for Labour.
However, Katwala says more brown faces in politics alone cannot win over large swaths of the new floating voters: “Now there is no particular identification with any party and, above all, the conservatives no longer have not made the progress they were hoping for simply by diversifying their front seat.
When polled, British Indians mostly say it is ‘not too important’ to have a British Indian MP representing their constituency.

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