Theme of the week: CULTURE

The United Kingdom is home to numerous cultural and ethnic communities. British Indians have contributed to this global community in more ways than one, cultural achievements being among the foremost. Dance, music, literature, theatre, food, art, spirituality — the list is extensive — are only some of the areas that Indians have excelled in.

Last week, we began posting excerpts from interviews that we have conducted with members of the British Indian community. Every week is headed by a particular theme: this week’s theme is culture.

DSC_0299SARVANI SASHIDHAR is a Kuchipudi dancer trained under such eminent gurus as Padmasri Dr. Sobha Naidu, Sri Vedantam Radhey Shyam, Smt Seetha and Sri Rajaram. She started performing already at the age of seven, and has staged shows in national as well as international events, including the inauguration of the Commonwealth Games in 2010. As a practitioner and choreographer of this classical Indian dance form, Sarvani often attempts to raise awareness of social issues. In 2013, she founded Sahasra Fine Arts. It is her hope and intention to train many others in this beautiful art form.

What is your proudest British Indian moment?

All those times that I’ve been out promoting Kuchipudi (very rarely seen in UK) in schools to make the art form available to children.

If you could wish for one thing, what would it be?

Perform Kuchipudi in front of the Queen!

Madhava TurumellaMADHAVA TURUMELLA is a leading Hindu Scholar of the ancient Vedas. Vice President of the Hindu Forum of Britain, he is a repository of great ‘Shastric’ knowledge. He is also a revered priest. The CEO of the Big Data division of a UK tech company, he is a British Indian living in Ealing borough with his wife and 8 year old son.

What according to you is the biggest contribution of the British Indian community in the UK?

There are many positive contributions we Indians bring to UK society.  Two of them come to the top of my mind:

  • We contribute a lot of tax money to the economy and we generate more jobs than any other Asian community
  • We contribute to a safer society.  Very few Indians commit crime and very few Indians are in UK jails.  As a result, by being law abiding citizens, we contribute immensely to a healthy law abiding society.

As a British Indian, what personal values do you associate with the Conservative party?

In my personal opinion, the Indian mindset is bound by tradition to conservatism and classical liberalism.  For example, Indians prefer individual responsibility.  They don’t like an overarching state to dictate do’s and don’ts to the population.  They prefer less government and more governance.  This concept of conservatism can be found in the words “Ramarajya” which even Mahatma Gandhiji wanted India to have.  Ramarajya is an ideal Indian conservative society.  Less tax burdens on hard working people, and encouragement for people to work.  Give a person to fish and he eats for a day, but teach him to fish and he eats for the rest of his life.  Indians live with this kind of conservative wisdom.

Comparatively, the UK conservative party comes much closer to the traditional Indian mindset.


Ashwini ShahASHWINI SHAH
 is a senior professional working in the HR industry within the investigations, security and risk management domain. A naturalised British citizen, she has been in the country for nearly 7 years.

What according to you is the biggest contribution of the British Indian community in the UK?

The contribution of the Indian community to culture, and the establishment of temples (such as ISCKON, Swaminarayan) and Gurudwaras, which are not only places of worship but also centres of community service.

What is your proudest British Indian moment?

I think in the 1980s there was a big protest march to protect the ISCKON temple. Apart from that there are so many British Indian entrepreneurs who made it big and have contributed to the British economy. We have a dedicated radio station, we arrange so many cultural events, and Britons have also acknowledged all this. The Gandhi statue being unveiled this weekend at Parliament Square is a mark of recognition of all that British Indians have contributed to this country.

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