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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Many Asians 'do not feel British'
Pie chart showing results of poll
More than a third of British Asians do not feel British, a BBC poll suggests.

The research among the under-34s for the Asian Network found 38% of the UK residents of South Asian origin felt only slightly or not at all British.

More than a third agreed to get on in the UK they needed to be a "coconut", a term for somebody who is "brown on the outside but white on the inside".

ICM Research interviewed 500 Asian people aged 16-34 and 235 white people aged 18-34 between 4 and 12 July.

Of those polled 84% were satisfied with life in Britain and almost half thought they have more opportunities here.

All of the British Asians polled were of South Asian origin.

Half of them, and nearly two-thirds of the white people interviewed, agreed it was too easy for immigrants to settle in Britain.

Identity 'important'

Three-quarters of the British Asians felt their culture was being diluted by living in the UK and nearly half believed white people did not treat them as British.

A total of 59% of the British Asians polled felt they were British, compared to 73% of white people.

Among the British Asians interviewed were 296 Muslims, 112 Hindus, 39 Sikhs and 33 Christians.

Many British Asians consider themselves to be British but at home they are more in touch with their cultural and ancestral roots
Reena Combo
Magazine editor
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Among the Sikhs, 77% said they felt completely British or a lot. For Muslims, the figure was 64%, followed by Hindus and Christians on 46%.

The poll was commissioned to coincide with the BBC's India and Pakistan '07 season of programmes to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1947 partition of India.

Some 12% of those polled said they considered themselves to be "coconuts".

Meenal Sachdev, director of Connect India - which works with young Asians to strengthen identity - said she did not think British Asians needed to be "coconuts" to be successful.

"Identity can be a tool for success. I feel very confident about being a British Indian," she said.

"Confidence with identity comes down to ability and knowing you have as many opportunities as other people," she added.

Reena Combo, editor of Ikonz, a monthly Asian magazine aimed at young British Asians, said: "I feel British but I feel very Asian as well.

"Many British Asians consider themselves to be British but at home they are more in touch with their cultural and ancestral roots."

But she agreed some British Asians thought they needed to become "coconuts".

"They feel they need to fit into society and that society looks at them in a bad way," she added.

Your Comments

I think Asians fit well into society. I consider myself a British Asian because I am Asian and was born and brought up in the UK. It's a unique blend, evidence of success is shown in the media on a regular basis. Take a look at different styles and music the British Asians contribute to the world as a whole!
Asif Khan, London

I am a Sikh Indian Lady born and brought up in the UK. I love the UK and consider it to be my home. Having said that, I am proud to be Indian. I feel people like me have the best of both worlds. I believe Sikhs as a whole integrate in the UK very well as our culture does not conflict with the UK and instead works in harmony. I am not a Coconut nor am I distinctly Indian or British. I have a balance with both sides which is what all British actions should achieve.
Sati Sethi, London

I may not be Asian but I also don't feel British, I'm Scottish. What is the problem with not feeling 'British'? Many of the UK residents don't feel that way either and that includes English people I know.
Leon Anderson, Aberdeen, Scotland

I don't even think about it, I live, work and pay my taxes and hang out with all sorts of people from different backgrounds. No worries.
Rocky Jay, Southampton

I'm a British born young man with a Pakistani ethnicity. However, I feel more British than I feel Pakistani, I relate to the British culture more than the Pakistani one. I'm surprised to learn that a third of those interviewed thought that being a "coconut" is the only way of achieving well in the British community. Recently I've been elected as the Member of UK Youth Parliament for the Borough of Rochdale. I represent a diverse community and one of the things I want to do in my community is to engage with young Muslims in particular about their so-called 'identity crisis'.
Usman Nawaz, Rochdale, England

Whilst my parents are from India, I was born in Britain and have spent most of my life there. I don't especially 'feel' British, but nor do I 'feel' Indian. I think to align oneself so passionately to any sense of 'nationhood' is stifling. I see the state as a convenient boundary, nothing more. I am a citizen of the world. I appreciate Italian food, Russian literature, the Japanese work ethic, Indian Kama Sutra and the English weather. Why should I 'favour' any one country over another? I will support government policy if I feel it's just and feasible, and I will support any football or cricket team if I feel they have played well enough to win, it's irrelevant to me whether they're Indian, English or whatever else.
Jagdeep, Sutton Coldfield, UK

I am very proud to be a British Indian. Yes there have been struggles, especially growing up in the 80's but otherwise I feel I have been given all the opportunities possible. I love going to India and completely respect and enjoy the country, culture and people but see myself as British first and wouldn't live anywhere else. Disappointed to hear that a proportion don't feel at home here, personally I think you have to make an effort to integrate too. I would be really interested to see the breakdown of these results by ethnicity, i.e. for Indians and then for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis... I'm sure there would be quite a difference.
Rons, London

I'm a British Sikh and feel my loyalty goes to the country that has given me and my family so much, so yes I'm British, but still feel that improvements regarding understanding of all cultures need to be respected and understood.
Tal Sahota, Wolverhampton, West Mids

One does not necessarily have to be a coconut, but being sensitive to other cultures is very crucial in today's age. Obviously when you move to a different country, it is utmost important to appreciate the local values and find a sort of a middle point where you are comfortable. If you hate everything, then it is not a good thing for yourself as well as others staying in that country.
Mahesh Gogate, London

Two cousins speak about being British Asians



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