By Amit Roy
THE QUIP by former prime minister David Cameron that Indians living in the UK have helped to put the “Great” back into “Great Britain” may not be so far-fetched, judging by the findings of a report which focuses on some of the impressive achievements of the Indian diaspora.
Not only have they made chicken tikka masala the nation’s favourite dish, ahead of fish and chips, but Indian businesses, big and small, have created in excess of 174,000 jobs – mostly for indigenous folk.
When 800 Indian-owned subsidiaries, whose parent companies are back in India, are considered – they include firms such as Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Steel – the number of jobs created jumps to 280,000.
The report, India in the UK: The Diaspora Effect, launched on Tuesday (4) at a large gathering at the Guildhall in the City, celebrates “the energy and entrepreneurship of the Indian diaspora in the UK”.
Its size is often given as 1.5 million by the British government but the true figure is closer to 2.5m.
The report has been drawn up by Grant Thornton, “one of the world’s largest professional services network of independent accounting and consulting member firms”, in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (Ficci)and the Indian High Commission.
A delighted high commissioner Ruchi Ghanashyam, who instigated the report, said at the launch: “This is like a dream come true for me.”
Indians in the UK, she said, “Do contribute enormously to the economy of the country they have made home”.
She also pointed out: “All over the world in 190 countries we have a diaspora that is over 30 million strong.”
Details of the report were given by lead author Anuj Chande, Grant Thornton’s head of south Asia, who began: “I recall in 1991 we had estimated that the net wealth of the Indian diaspora community was something like £7bn. Our work today indicates is that the net wealth of the diaspora community is over £75bn – and I believe that is still an underestimate.”
The report estimated there were 65,000 Indian diaspora-owned companies in the UK, of which 654 of the largest had been analysed. One of them, B&M Retail, employed 26,496, thereby dispelling any notion that Indians have ever been a burden on the state.
The 654 companies “have a combined turnover of just under £37bn, employing 174,000 people,” according to Chande’s calculation. “And they pay about £1bn in corporation tax alone. We haven’t counted all the indirect taxes but that would be significantly higher. And in terms of capital expenditure alone, based on the last published accounts, they spent £2bn.
“We have looked at the location of these businesses, how the Indian diaspora are across the country.”
Research shows “52 per cent of the 654 companies are actually based in London, 13 per cent both in the north and the south, 11 per cent in the Midlands, nine per cent in the east, and one per cent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively. London, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester are key locations for such companies.
“Sectorwise, we found that the Indian diaspora reflect very much the natural attraction that Indian diaspora business people have towards real estate, medicine and trading. Real estate is very much in the Indian blood. Hospitality tops the chart – nearly 20 per cent are involved in this sector.
“The next most popular sector is healthcare and pharma which is at 15 per cent – that ranges from care homes to manufacturing of pharma, wholesaling and retailing.
“Nine per cent are involved in food and beverage – chicken tikka masala is the most popular dish, overtaking fish and chips.”
He also stressed: “35 per cent of the companies researched had at last one woman director on the board. This compares favourably with the India meets Britain tracker report, which shows that in Indian parent owned companies, 24 per cent of their directors are female.”
Speaking afterwards to Eastern Eye, Chande said: “Sectorwise there is a big emphasis on real estate, medicine, and trading, the three passions of Indian diaspora businesses.
“Over the years as we progress some of those sectors may change – with the new second generation coming in technology might take on more importance, media might take on more importance so we will see a change in the sectoral composition of the Indian diaspora companies.
“The India meets Britain tracker tracks all the Indian owned subsidiaries – it excludes branches because there is no public information on branches and this (the diaspora report) also includes Indian citizens who happen to live in the UK.”
He posed the question, “Who is Indian?”, and explained: “We started with 250 of the most common family names and supplemented that with our own market knowledge – we have been working in this sector for 30 years, so we have our own intelligence of who these companies are. We researched to make sure they were of Indian origin.”
The new Ficci chairperson Baroness Usha Prashar commented: “As the size, spread and influence of Indians around the world grows, the potential of the diaspora to make a substantial contribution to its adopted countries around the world and to India grows.”
Eastern Eye’s Rich List 2019 is acknowledged as one of the primary sources for the report. It found: “The total net wealth of the 101 people on Eastern Eye’s Rich List has increased over the past 12 months from £80,255,000,000 to £83,343,000,000 – a rise of £3,088,000 or 3.85 per cent. The number of billionaires has gone up from 12 to 13. In 2017, it was nine.”