Acclimatising to life in the UK as a South Asian

10th August 2022

On this week’s ‘Culture Shocks’ podcast, we had Parita Patel and Abanti Chakrabarty Mukhopadhyay on our podcast discussing life in the UK as a South Asian. The South Asian community is one of the most settled in the UK, with many members owning businesses and having influencers in various fields.  August is South Asian Heritage Month,  which started in 2020 to show the diverse heritage link between the UK and South Asia. This blog will discuss what it’s like being South Asian in the UK, representation in the public sphere, and improvements on how to get more representation in the media. 

Life as a South Asian in the UK

Our guests are first and second generations to the UK. ‘I consider myself second generation as my parents would be the first generation. They came over to the UK in the 70s. Some would classify me as a British Asian, so I feel a connection to the third generation and the first generation,’ Parita explains. Whereas with Abanti as a first generation, she ‘felt a bit different when my daughters started going to school it allowed mixing with the public.’ After arriving in 2003, Abanti felt that her confidence had gone down, and it took a long time to regain her confidence. 

Growing up, discussing racial issues was uncommon ‘in the Indian culture; it wouldn’t be discussed. Being a part of East African Indian. They don’t see anything outside of brown as being allowed,’ Parita says. Having racial and social conversations between three generations wouldn’t have happened before. Parita’s daughters are in the third generation and deal with these issues daily. ‘My daughters as third generations, these issues are really important and they will come home and have these conversations with me and they can. I couldn’t have those conversations with my generation. However, my daughters feel that they can have those conversations with the first generation, albeit in a diplomatic way,’ Parita says. There is a shift in what is discussed as the generations become more settled it is changing and presenting new views based on the culture these later generations are experiencing. 

South Asian Influence and Representation in the UK

Improvements still need to be made regarding the representation of South Asians in specific fields. In sport, ‘most Indians are fans of cricket. It’s almost in our blood,’ Parita says. Now it is common for many South Asian children to go to football clubs.  When you look at a sport like football, there are very few South Asians in the sport. ‘There are 3,000 footballers in the UK; only 10 are British Asians. As for managers, only two are British Asians,’ Parita says. There is a lack of representation; Parita suggests maybe the FA should have a strategic inclusion group and community talent scouts. 

Abanti feels that South Asians aren’t seen as strong in sports and that schools can inspire students to get involved. And we, as marketers, need to ensure that when sports, such as football, are being communicated, the audience is inclusive, not just the message or the creative. They need to think about how the message will reach that audience in order to inspire them. 

What can be done to have more representation? 

‘School should be safe and free. Teachers should be trained in all backgrounds,’ Abanti says. Children are shaped and moulded by what is around them. The media plays a massive part in children’s lives; therefore, we should have it reflective of what different ethnicities see. British TV shows have Indian families in them; however, they don’t correctly represent the life of most South Asians. Most shows have Indians as successful; however, it doesn’t show the struggle of first generations who arrive in the UK to live. 

In marketing, we must realise that one message doesn’t fit every culture or ethnicity. We have all tried to translate a sentence into a language we don’t know through an online translator, and we know it rarely goes well. A perfect campaign sentence in English may not translate well to German, Polish, or Dutch, let alone trying to translate it directly to Hindu, Urdu, and Bengali. This is where ethnic marketing steps in. We have to have one campaign for English and a similar campaign geared towards specific ethnicities that have been created in a way appropriate for their culture. 

As we take on these campaigns, we need to do more research about the different cultures. Reach out to community groups as we plan the campaigns to ensure we are not offending the ethnicities. Ethnic marketing is an essential aspect that brands can’t forget to do. We need to show consumers that a brand is representative of them to get their buy-in for a brand. At GottaBe! Marketing, we encourage the brands we work with to invest in multicultural marketing as we believe that by an equal society is one where people have equal access to information and opportunity. 

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