By Rozina Visram

'Rozina Visram's first-class publication does for Asians what Peter Fryer completed for African Caribbeans in his groundbreaking booklet, Staying Power.'
Socialist Review

'An unheard of advent to Asian legacy and historical past in Britian' Muslim News

Praise for Rozina Visram’s past pioneering research,
Ayahs, Lascars and Princes:

'A vigorous– and well timed– survey of British Indian history.' Salman Rushdie

'Rozina Visram’s very good booklet does greatly to give an explanation for how the belief of white supremacy lingers.' Hanif Kureishi

'Scholarly, succinct and gripping to read.' Dilip Hiro, TLS

In this new, groundbreaking publication, Rozina Visram bargains an widely researched, accomplished research of Asians from the Indian subcontinent in Britain. Spanning 4 centuries, it tells the background of the Indian group in Britain from the servants, ayahs and sailors of the 17th century, to the scholars, princes, squaddies, pros and marketers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Drawing on basic assets and lately declassified executive files, Visram examines the character and development of Asian migration; authentic attitudes to Asian payment; the reactions and perceptions of the British humans; the responses of the Asians themselves and their social, cultural and political lives in Britain. This resourceful and exact research asks what it can were like for Asians to dwell in Britain, within the middle of an imperial city, and files the anti-colonial fight by way of Asians and their allies within the united kingdom. it truly is a useful contribution to our knowing of the origins of the numerous assorted groups that make up modern Britain.

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145 Having fallen on hard times, Mahomed advertised, in 1813, for a situation as a butler or valet, adding that he had ‘no objection to town or country’, in order to increase his employability. His son, William, aged 16, a postman in London, could not have earned enough to support the family. By then Mahomed was past middle age, and starting afresh could not have been easy. Is it any wonder then, that this painful episode has not been mentioned in any of his subsequent writings, except obliquely and in the most general terms as ‘reverses … attended with all the uncertainty, and precarious circumstances of struggling fortune’.

The returns to the Bengal Board of Trade, dated 1800, reveal that of the total crew of 287 lascars on three ships, the Cavera, the Gabriel and the Calcutta, 73 died on the voyage to England, and 11 on the return voyage; 22 were discharged sick in England, while 36 deserted. Thus 145 lascars, just over 50 per cent, returned home to Bengal. In another instance, Joseph Hume, the surgeon on the Houghton, which left England for Bombay, in June 1799, complained that the ship was crowded, with 223 lascar passengers, ‘many of them … in a dangerous situation’, suffering from fever, flux and venereal disease; others ‘with ulcers on different parts of their body which remained obstinate … ’; 14 died during the voyage.

10s. per head per month, while lascar food, though costing only 6d. a day, 15s. a month, worked out more expensive because of the greater numbers employed. 108 But such claims to humanitarian motives do not really stand up. The main reason appears to be partly economic protectionism. As Hepple points out, the roots of discrimination lay in the ‘relative cheapness per head’ of lascars in the eastern seas. As early as 1711, one contemporary writer expressed his fear of competition on the Cape route.

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