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Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 21:23 GMT 22:23 UK
Italian Indians: the other side of migration
A snapshot from a party held at a northern Italian farm
Indian workers tend to speak very good Italian

Stories of immigration into Italy tend to hit the headlines in the form of tragedies at sea and seedy criminal gangs smuggling people into the European Union.

However, such stories can hide successful and positive examples of immigration and integration.

One such example is the contribution made by Indian migrants in Italy, according to the Indian consul in Milan, Sujatha Singh.

Indians who come to the country tend to work in dairy farms and agriculture.

"They work in the kind of jobs that demand long hours and very hard work - basically in those areas where there is a shortage," Ms Singh told BBC News Online.

Agricultural work

According to her figures, about half of the total Indian migrant population in Italy live in the agricultural areas in the central and northern regions of the country.


Cows have started producing more milk apparently ever since the Indians have come and started taking care of them

Sujatha Singh

In fact, most of them originate from the agricultural areas of northern India.

With only 40,000 Indian migrants in the country, they do not represent a large percentage of the migrant population in Italy.

Many of them have been absorbed through amnesties.

"I am sure there are a few without papers, but then they are dealt with according to Italian law," Ms Singh said.

Successful migration

Indians started migrating to Italy around 10 to 15 years ago, the consul said, and their numbers grew progressively by word of mouth.

"They did well, they found ready acceptance," said Ms Singh. "Apparently, the Italian employers said: You are such good workers. Do you have any other people who can come?"

Migrant boat intercepted by Italian police
Many would-be migrants try to reach Italy by sea

She also said Indians were integrating successfully and that local authorities spoke very highly about the contribution that Indians are making to the local economy:

"They say that they are very industrious, that they are very hard working, law-abiding and that they have integrated very well".

She added that Indians and Italians lived very well together, and that there were no reports of racist attacks against Indian migrants.

Unhappy fate

However, Ms Singh admitted that some Indian migrants had met an unhappy fate.

"You hear of the tragedies that take place on the ships off the Italian coast and there are some Indians in these, there have been tragedies involving Indians".

International news tends to prefer to focus on the misery and tragedy of immigration, rather than on successful integration and professional achievement.

In Italy, however, there is a saying: A tree which falls down makes much more noise than a growing forest.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

22 Mar 02 | Europe
20 Mar 02 | Europe
16 Jun 01 | Media reports
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