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Saturday, 24th February 2024



India is the country of global attention – President Obama and David Cameron are going there this year, the Commonwealth games are being held there in October, and the greatest interest is in the economic boom of India. But there is also a unique story that lies untold right here in Britain.

The India that lives and breathes in Britain, not just among Indian people and communities, but also among thousands of non-Indians who have fallen in love with aspects of India, is often forgotten, by-passed or ignored. Every day, a huge amount of volunteering  and charity is done to maintain and manage the hundreds of temples, mosques, gurudwaras, community centres that have been built by the Indians up and down the country and also by organisations like Oxfam and smaller charities to help India. Indian family care for the elderly is legendary. Aspects of India to be found in Britain include not just the curry houses, but also the clothes and businesses, the yoga and ayurveda centres, the campus-wide National Hindu Students Forum, the music groups and bollywood films, the sarees and salwars, the doctors and consultants in hospitals, alongside the nurses, the teachers and lecturers, the list goes on and on.  In fact, the UK is the stage for the live experiment between East and West, and it is through the living Indian community that this experiment is being executed and refined. Surely for global harmony, we need to look into this experience!

Unfortunately, the BBC has decided to close the only public national radio station and website that we have - BBC Asian Network! This move makes the Masala tour even more relevant by helping to raise the grassroots voice of Britain which will be ever more important in helping to prevent the closure of this vital source of Asian expression in Britain. One secret is to widen the audience base to all those who love Asian culture, and there are millions of such people in Britain. I will use my tour to draw and build this audience - if 6 Music can be saved by a grassroots campaign, so can Asian Network.

I want to lift your living stories out by touring Britain, listening and sharing your voices and experiences, and exposing the huge cultural and spiritual wealth that lies at the very core of Britain which is already lifting Britain out of the ‘moral’ recession. I will be travelling up and down the country in the whole month of November, to mark the start of my fiftieth year of life, and share my passion and love for India with the rest of the country. There will be a daily podcast, a blog, pictures and even possibly a video on our website www.diverseethics.com so you can follow this journey every step of the way.

Here is what you can do to help you and me along the way:

  1. Get excited about this trip, pray for its success and tell your friends and family that it is going to happen. Bang the drums, and start dancing....
  2. Share your excellent contacts in media to ensure it gets the national press, radio and TV coverage it richly deserves. Write to them via email ... let them know that this is a story worth broadcasting. This tour can change the cultural landscape of Britain and give Indian friends the recognition they deserve.
  3. Help me to get corporate sponsors for the trip. Indian-friendly businesses will be featured on this tour, and they are some of the most creative and biggest job creators in Britain, and do this every day, quietly and artistically. It will also help your company attract top talent and customers.
  4. Tell me some unusual stories and contacts whom you think I should visit along the way, like:  
  • the huge number of female master-chefs quietly cooking family meals in Indian homes up and down the country from oral recipes, without seeking fame or fortune;
  • the 76 year-old Sikh award-winning athlete in Birmingham,
  • the Bollywood dance school which has a large number of English boys and girls on its list,
  • the Yoga teacher who has energised his whole village to a spiritual and ethical lifestyle,
  • the Sikh langar from Birmingham which completely transformed the World Parliament of Religions in Barcelona,
  • Sewa International’s national Sewa day on 21st November  2010 to teach employees in  Britain the beauty of selfless volunteering by practicing it for a full day, t
  • the Jain temple in Leicester where the priest has completely transformed the local community and brought non-violence and reverence for all life to the heart and soul of Britain,
  • the GP who wears a saree every day to work, and shows people how to live a healthy lifestyle by giving them vegetarian  recipes and yoga classes,
  • Dips Catering, which can serve 1000 fresh hot vegetarian meals at a time, and take all their catering workers for a free paid holiday every year,
  • Vikas Pota’s new book, India Inc, which tells the creative stories of Indian entrepreneurs and what makes them succeed globally,

.......... these are the stories you will be hearing and reading about daily in November, and use them to build your identity about what it means to be British and a lover of India.

  1. At the end of the tour:
  • there will be a book to chart out the story of India in Britain, and
  • people will not have to hide their love of India when they go to work, that
  • Indians will be better respected and understood,
  • that our children and youth will grow up with pride about their dual identities and be allowed and respected to be themselves,
  • that the great love of India expressed by people who were never born there is worthy of celebration, ....
  • I want to collect your creative ideas for a better Britain, and take them to the door of 10 Downing Street with your help, and tell Prime Minister David Cameron that we are already helping to weave a dynamic, spirited and ethical Britain, with plenty of creative ideas, and ready to do more, and the loss of the Asian Network will be a loss of the soul of Britain.
  1. I  will need volunteers along the way to help me on the journey, your personal grace as I will be staying in people’s homes throughout the way to experience that greatest of Indian gifts – the gift of love and hospitality, the technology of daily blogging and podcasting, the planning of my travels and itinerary, a full-time personal assistant who will get excellent media experience,  ... so your help is very welcome. It is my dream to visit local community centres in every town and meet leaders and members of grassroots communities everywhere I go. This trip is about the ordinary who are truly extra-ordinary. I am looking for a volunteer personal assistant with good PR and communication skills, for whom this tour will be an experience of a lifetime.
  2. Remember above all, enthusiasm costs nothing, and can enrich everyone, so be inspired as the world has inherited a timeless reservoir of wisdom, and it deserves to be re-ignited in Britain.
  3. Comment on this email by writing your view below and share it with the world. Forward this weblink to friends and family - this is noise worth making!

Benefits of the Masala Tour

  • At the end of the tour, we will have developed a large number of articles, podcasts and information about the living India in Britain, and the bridge-building and creativity that has come out of this. This resource will be very helpful for companies and charities wishing to understand, recruit, and sell goods or services to this community.
  • The national media profile of individuals and communities living all over the country will be raised. And this is only the beginning. It is likely that this story will be replicated by others and collectively, will show to Britain the huge strength of its diversity and resourcefulness.
  • The huge wisdom and creativity of India will start to filter into mainstream Britain.



Dr. Atul Shah is author of ‘Celebrating Diversity’, BBC broadcaster, lecturer  and founder of the visionary social enterprise and internet portal, www.diverseethics.com


Contact Emails:

Email Us – to offer your ideas, contacts, help and assistance, or call Dr. Atul on 07804294903.

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To stop the closure of BBC Asian Network

go to the above website and register your voice or email

Article added on 12th July 2010 at 8:47am
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