With over 1.3 billion people and a GDP likely to overtake the UK’s in the next couple of years, India is a country we all need to take notice of.
An estimated 1.4 million British Indians live in the UK, and are classified as the largest visible ethnic group. With Brexit this is a huge market for Britain to trade with and with so many who are either Indian nationals or of Indian descent here, we have a huge opportunity.
We speak to Nimit Shishodia about Indian politics and to get a flavour of the Indian diaspora in the UK.
Nimit thanks for your time.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be living and working in the UK?
I grew up in the suburbs of Delhi. After my engineering degree, I learnt Japanese for two years. I was intended to go to Japan, but a Japanese company in London had a requirement of bilingual network engineer and I landed in UK and continued to stay here.
You have become engaged in UK politics and campaigned for Seena Shah the Conservative candidate for Brentford & Isleworth in GE2019. How did you get involved in that?
We, the Mangalam group met Seena in a pub during her campaign and she asked us for help and we decided to support her. I was the ward coordinator for Syon and Brentford. We have done canvassing, door to door flyer distribution and road shows, it was great experience to interact with general public as a Conservative campaigner. I found Conservative party members generous, to the group and decent people.
You’re involved in organising India festivals with Mangalam in Hounslow. How did that come about and what sort of events do you do?
Mangalam is a non-profit organisation based in West London and we primarily do Holi (Color) and Diwali (Fireworks) in March and November, respectively.
I have joined the organisation in Oct 2018 and it has been a great experience so far, with lot of community members and volunteers Mangalam has exponentially grown in last year and supported politics.
Mangalam YouTube channel holds the videos for our activities: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1fPc9IYQj-Ac8p8xfZFHQg
Last year you were recognised by the High Commission for helping clean-up the building. How did that come about?
We came to know about the mess created around the High Commission of India (HCI). The Indian diaspora decided not to retaliate in the same way we felt the Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) protestors did to the High Commission, instead we followed the Mahatama Gandhi’s way of peace – calling the whole act as Gandhigiri (the practice of the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi). A lot joined on the day for the clean-up and we clearly sent the message out to the other side.
You have said before this was the first time you had seen the diaspora of the various regions of India come together as one. What do you think has changed?
I think it was about the country, when people saw what we felt was a threat from Pakistan and PoK protestors over Indian diaspora and HCI, London. People from all over the country united.
What was it like being in the High Commission and most importantly did the High Commissioner serve Ferrero Rocher?
We were treated well in the HCI and we have made so many contacts. Mangalam team was officially invited to dinner by a HCI Counsellor and our efforts were well respected and regarded by the Indian Government, making us feel proud. Time to time we are invited to various events at the HCI.
The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is in power in India and seem to be breaking the hold the Congress Party had for many years. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi is depicted as a controversial figure over here, what are your thoughts on Modi?
Modi as a PM is a great leader for India, he thinks out of box, work hard and committed to growth of country. He comes up with great ideas, but at times with a poor execution plan.
How do you think the Indian diaspora in the UK generally view India’s domestic politics?
I feel the Indian Diaspora often get too involved in Indian politics, where as they should also indulge in UK politics, since we live here. 2019 is the first time I saw Indian diaspora supporting Conservatives at such scale, due to the Labour party’s anti-India propaganda.
Lastly with Britain having a more global focus away from the EU, what do you see as the opportunities for our countries collaboration over the coming decade?
UK as a country needs industries, small and bigger. With leaving the EU, this may be an opportunity to rebuild the country with a self-sufficient and self-sustainable model. I would really love to see British products exported all over the world, boosting the country’s economy.