In London, thousands of Asians packed the narrow streets of Southall on Wednesday night (7 June) to welcome Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai.
In London, thousands of Asians packed the narrow streets of Southall on Wednesday night (7 June) to welcome Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai. Lamp posts were festooned with Indian and British flags as Mr. Desai arrived to visit and talks with local leaders in an area with a large Asian population.
SYNOPSIS: The Indian Prime Minister was greeted by officials at Southall's Town Hall, as he took time off from his tow-day official visit to the United Kingdom. He was also greeted by demonstrators demanding action by India's ruling Janata Party to end discrimination against 'untouchables'. Mr. Desai told community leaders the untouchables would receive his support and then continued his tour of a part of London that has been transformed by the arrival of more than 30,000 Asian immigrants.
Southall, once a typical middle class London suburb, is now the centre of Britain's Indian community. There are Indian food stores, fashion shops selling saris and the area's there cinemas show only Indian films. However, there are signs that some immigrants are adapting to their new country. English and Asian residents tend to meet and mix in Southall's bar, though Mr. Desai, a strict prohibitionist, would disapprove of young Indians drinking British beer. In fat, the western attitudes of many Asians now living in Britain would conflict with the Indian Prime Minister's austere Hindu beliefs. But community relations officer, Mr. Inder Singh Uppal, say many immigrants still face problems in coming to terms with British life.
Asian and British are slowly learning to live with each other, though it is difficult for many English people, who were born in the area and have seen it dramatically change its character. But, Indian's External Affairs Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said he hoped Indians living in Southall would live like brothers with the rest of the community and help to form stronger ties between their old and new countries.