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  • Technorati: graph / links

    A problem of aspirations


    by Sunny on 2nd May, 2007 at 4:10 pm    

    Zia Haider Rahman has written a very interesting article for CIF today around the recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation report linking race and poverty.

    So what does all this history mean? The first point is that we are dealing here with immigrants who are more likely to urge their sons to go into a restaurant job at 16 than carry on in school and widen their horizons.

    It is not enough to make education available to our immigrants, as if the newcomers are poised like coiled springs to jump at the opportunities offered to them. …we must be prepared to contemplate how we go about encouraging others to take that view also, even where experience suggests that our audience place decidedly less of a cultural premium on education.

    I think he makes a good point - many reports these days around poverty and exclusion of ethnic minorities focus a bit too much on what the government should be doing. Of course, their aim in many cases may be to influence public policy. But that paints minorities as victims who cannot help themselves, and making the assumption that their own cultural practices may be irrelevant. The report for example shows that that Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are much less likely to work, have more kids and are more likely to be not working because of illness. All these also have a huge impact on family income and how much money there is to go around.



      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Culture, Current affairs, Race politics




    92 Comments below   |  

    1. Jagdeep — on 2nd May, 2007 at 4:53 pm  

      Alot of truth there. Although I have to say, most Indians push their kids hard. If anything Indian youth moan that their parents are too ambitious and push them into professions and business and have a hyperactive culture of chasing success. That’s the way it was with my family, and all the other Indians I know.

    2. Halima — on 2nd May, 2007 at 5:02 pm  

      Interesting article. Totally agree - it’s all about class. A lot of work in the developing countries focuses on raising education demand from families and children - as well as supplying education so it might make good sense here to boost demand-side asks as well as invest in education training and learning.

      Good to point out the baseline from which many UK Bangladeshis start - very low, but also good to point out that Tower Hamlets education has had the most improved outcomes for some years now, and well, with people like Zia coming up the system, I think the picture is slowly changing. The low educational base has to do witht he relativeness of the British Bangladeshis as an immigration group maybe - stll newer than Pakistanis to this country.

      The restaurent trade, though, while not everyone’s cup of tea for social mobility, has acted as a coping strategy for many Bangladeshi men and as an initial stepping stone might still be helpful. The white working classes for example don’t have a trade to fall back on and this is causing lots of social issues.

      Where I might part company is with the focus on culture - as soon as authorities start playing with culture, they end up imposing another one. See parallel debates on governance culture in international aid giving at the moment.

    3. William — on 2nd May, 2007 at 5:20 pm  

      What has been a surprise in the results of research over the last few years is the differences between different Asian groups, i.e Chinese, Sikh, Hindu, Pakistani, Bangladeshi. Why is it that the first three do much better in terms of education, employment, affluence than the other two. Also while the other two groups are both Muslim Bangladeshis fair worse than Pakistani Muslims. Also why the difference between Black people and Asians and also Africans and Carribeans.

      Black people started arriving in the UK in larger numbers before Asians therefore it can’t just be connected with length of residence. If it is connected with family/social expectations then how do they arise and how can they be changed. This seems a bit of a puzzle. But something should be done.

    4. Jagdeep — on 2nd May, 2007 at 5:44 pm  

      With Indians, the immigrant mentality, and desire to make the family proud, is a great driver for educational, professional and business success. It can be a good thing, in fact I think it is, because it has inspired my family to do well, but for some types, the ones who want to be poets or just lazy, its tough, because you get pressured into doing things that you might not otherwise want to do ie: being a doctor or lawyer over being an actor or something stupid like that.

      Although that is changing and the next generation you will see more poets and sportsmen and lazy ones as their parents (ie my generation) cut them a break to a certain extent and dont make them go into non traditional fields like scuba diving instructors or whatever that bunch of coconuts wants to do. Although as long as my kids dont just go into ‘I.T, innit’, I’ll be happy, as long as they dont become bums and drop outs.

    5. Halima — on 2nd May, 2007 at 6:05 pm  

      True , not all linked to length of residence. Perhaps as Zia points out, it’s the skills-set immgrants bring with them. It needs linking back to socio-economic status from countries people are migrating from. This I think was the point Zia was making - many British Bangladeshis migrated from remote villages in Bangladesh, might’ve attended schools but might’ve dropped out early and their parents literacy skills in Bengali would be low. This is a generalisation but some trends can be gleaned.

      On Why Afro-Caribbeans mighr fair worse, is an interesting point.

      Actually a lot of research says that Asians of all kinds - whatever their material background, are born with educational values more akin to the middle classes - in that they push hard for the kids to do well at school.

      The Runnymede Trust has done from interesting work in the intra-group differences - but lone-parent households often equate with stress and lack of educational motivation. Lone-parents have to juggle jobs, with less time to read to kids, combined with the fact that minorities face disporpotionate discrimination in the labour market, it is easy to see why kids might fall between the seams.

    6. Naxal 1849 — on 2nd May, 2007 at 6:38 pm  

      Put simply, the difference between different groups of people from the sub-continent - Sikh, Hindu, Pakistani, Bangladeshi - is that the latter two are Muslims.

      I cannot speak for Hindus, but Sikhism and Sikh culture emphasises a strong work ethic; much like the Presbyterian work ethic. This is in addition to encouraging education and learning.

      With Muslims it is different. Education is seen as necessary only up to a point because, apparently, all knowledge is to be found in the Quran. So non-Islamic education isn’t given priority; Muslim parents preferring to send their children to learn Arabic and chant incomprehensibly.

      The same goes for work ethic - Muhammad himself never held down a job (apart from being a warlord and working as his wife’s dogs body for a bit). And Muhammad is ‘the’ example for Muslims to follow. And my, aren’t Pakistanis and Bangladeshis following it.

      Sub-continental Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims come from near identical places in the world - the only thing differentiating them is religion. You do the math.

    7. Jagdeep — on 2nd May, 2007 at 6:50 pm  

      Naxal 1849

      Why then do studies show that Muslims from India, especially Gujaratis, Ismailis, Bohras, perform to a comparable level as Hindus and Sikhs and much better than their Pakistani and Bangladeshi counterparts?

    8. Jagdeep — on 2nd May, 2007 at 6:56 pm  

      Naxal, why do you have to bring Muhammad into the question? You’re just a troll and a provocateur, trying to start a religious mud slinging match.

    9. Halima — on 2nd May, 2007 at 7:05 pm  

      Naxal

      You arguments assume that these nationalities put their religious identities first - I don’t know that the scriptures in any of our faiths prevent us from learning. In fact don’t they encourage us all to verse ourselves in truth and knowledge? Truth and knowledge might mean different things to us all, but the scriptures tell us to equip ourselves with knowledge skills.

      The Bangladeshis, although Muslim, have a very secular tradition ( had a war with Pakistan to prove this point during indepdendence).

      Going back to India, isn’t there that ancient saying whatever happens in Bengal will happen in India tomorrow? i.e. The Bengalis are the intellectual hotpots in India and pehraps give India its intellectual genes. Calcutta is living proof of this tradition. True, Bengalis might not to well on business, but this is different to saying they don’t value education. This might be their problem - they value it too much and can’t see why anyone might want to be a gymnast.

      Reducing things down to religion doesn’t work. Look at the middle income countries in the Middle East - with the exception of the Yemen which has low literacy rates, the region isn’t doing so badly in comparable international education standards. There’s something to be said for economics here.

      Judging from the outside all immigrants have strong wotk ethics otherwise we can’t survive, and our immigrant legacy, at least for our parents, was the strongest driver for mobility, not religion.

      Religion by itself never explains anything.

    10. William — on 2nd May, 2007 at 7:21 pm  

      It’s true about the work ethic in Sikhism. However as regard education in Islam then what went wrong as there has been historically a respect and aspiration for learning within Islam at least in medieval times with the establishment of many Universities etc. There were also many advances in maths and science, medicine, Physics, geography, architecture, art, history. This was not just learning about the Qoran etc. Also they played a part in the revival of Greek knowledge with the translation of many works of Aristotle etc. In fact the seeking of knowledge was seen as part of being a Muslim in order to discover “Gods Universe”.

    11. William — on 2nd May, 2007 at 7:24 pm  

      Also does not Iran have a highly educated population.

    12. Halima — on 2nd May, 2007 at 7:58 pm  

      That’s exactly what I was thinking - doesn’t Iran have a high record of sending out doctors to the rest of the world?

    13. raz — on 2nd May, 2007 at 8:30 pm  

      I don’t know about the situation with Bangladeshis, but the problem with British Pakistanis is less about religion than it is about the geographical origins of the immigrants. Majority of the UK Pakistani population hails from Kashmir/Mirpur, which is a relatively poor and underdeveloped part of Pakistan with a low educational base. There is a significant Pakistani middle class in the UK which is successful and well-educated, but these tend to be people who came from the larger, more developed provinces such as Punjab or Sind, and had a better educational background. It’s worth noting that there are Pakistani communities in other countries such as Canada who are doing much better than British Pakistanis.

    14. Sunny — on 2nd May, 2007 at 9:38 pm  

      I cannot speak for Hindus, but Sikhism and Sikh culture emphasises a strong work ethic; much like the Presbyterian work ethic. This is in addition to encouraging education and learning.

      Yeah this really works in places like Vancouver, where Sikhs have become a joke for geting involved in drugs, gang violence and basically being useless. It’s the village mentality, whether here, in Vancouver or on the internet. But hey, Naxal only comes to make broad generalisations without any basis. Try using the grey matter occasionally.

    15. Ms_Xtreme — on 2nd May, 2007 at 9:46 pm  

      Naxal..

      With Muslims it is different. Education is seen as necessary only up to a point because, apparently, all knowledge is to be found in the Quran. So non-Islamic education isn’t given priority; Muslim parents preferring to send their children to learn Arabic and chant incomprehensibly.

      The same goes for work ethic - Muhammad himself never held down a job (apart from being a warlord and working as his wife’s dogs body for a bit). And Muhammad is ‘the’ example for Muslims to follow. And my, aren’t Pakistanis and Bangladeshis following it.

      Reading a book will help your pea-sized brain to grow you know.

    16. Naxal 1849 — on 2nd May, 2007 at 10:00 pm  

      Just been watching Utd get slaughtered by Milan. Brilliant.

      I’ll try to answer all points raised:

      Jagdeep - try not to let your emotions get the better of you, it makes you look rather pathetic. Most Muslims from India, especially ones who have been through the Indian education system, have had the Islam bashed out of them - they are taught to be nationalists (see cricketers/bollywood actors/businessmen) and Islam becomes a private affair no longer dominating every sphere of their lives.

      Halima - Let’s not get bogged down with ‘truth’, it’s pointless. As for the pursuit of ‘knowledge’, how can a religion which dictates that all knowledge is contained in a little green book then at the same time encourage further learning. It is simple logic. the Bangladesh War of Independence was fought on the platform of Bengali Nationalism, not secularism. The saying you referred to applies to West Bengal, not many Muslims left there.

      As for the Middle East you omit the most important thing: oil. This is sustaining all Western-friendly governments at the moment; let’s see what happens when it dries up.

      As for your laughable assertion that all immigrants have strong work ethics you again fail to understand the implications of a welfare state. Reflect on that and then get back to me.

      William - the advances you talk of happened in-spite of Islam, not because of it. Don’t forget that when the armies of Islam captured Constantinople in 1453, the first thing they did was burn the great libraries.

      Most Iranians, of whom 70% are under thirty, are anti-Islam.

      Raz - A poor effort form you. Sikhs are from the same places Pakistanis are from. Don’t try to use geography as an excuse.

      Sunny - All of a sudden we are in Canada? How about we just stick to the UK.

    17. soru — on 2nd May, 2007 at 10:24 pm  

      ‘Most Iranians, of whom 70% are under thirty, are anti-Islam.’

      Presumably, a similar proportion to the number of Israelis who are antisemitic.

      I am convinced that 30% of all the world’s problems could be solved simply by more careful use of words, and in particular avoiding the silliness that results when political enemies adopt each others misuse of language.

      If you want to go around saying that the muslims in India and Iran are not ‘Islamic’, don’t you think your idea would be better communicated by using some word that matches your intent, that means what you think it does?

    18. raz — on 2nd May, 2007 at 10:37 pm  

      “Sikhs are from the same places Pakistanis are from”

      Bullshit. Why do Pakistanis in Canada/USA do so much better than Pakistanis in the UK? Why is there such a big disparity betwen the achievements of British Pakistanis from villages in Kashmir and those from cities like Lahore and Karachi? Use some common sense man.

      “Sunny - All of a sudden we are in Canada? How about we just stick to the UK.”

      Because it destroys your bigoted generalisations about religion. And believe me, Canadians know all about the “enlightened” nature of Khalistanis like you:

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/airindia/victims.html

    19. ZinZin — on 2nd May, 2007 at 10:49 pm  

      Presbyterian work ethic? I thought it was the protestant work ethic.

    20. raz — on 2nd May, 2007 at 10:51 pm  

      “doesn’t Iran have a high record of sending out doctors to the rest of the world?”

      Yeah I believe this is true of Pakistan as well, one study found that Pakistan is the third highest source of International Medical Graduates to affluent countries.

    21. Jagdeep — on 2nd May, 2007 at 10:57 pm  

      Jagdeep - try not to let your emotions get the better of you, it makes you look rather pathetic

      Naxal, don’t try the pompous patronising shtick with me you fanatical buffoon. The only person who is looking pathetic and emotional here is you. Ismailis, Gujju Muslims and Bohras are just as religious as everyone else. Your blockheaded generalisations seem like the result of an over emotional simpleton and chauvinist, and I’m enjoying watching you dig yourself deeper into your hole.

    22. raz — on 2nd May, 2007 at 11:06 pm  

      Jagdeep,

      Just for fun, here’s some more stuff to get naxal’s anti-Muslim blood boiling:

      Sikh traffic warden becomes celebrity in Pakistan

      “Since yesterday, I have been hearing different greetings, such as sat sari kaal, jo bolay so nihal and ballay ballay from car and bus drivers, motorcyclists and children. Lahoris are really very loving people and these are unforgettable moments for me,” remarked Dr Gulab Singh

      Pakistan to build Sikh university at Nankana Sahib

      Pakistan government plans to set up a university on Sikh religion and culture at Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak.

      The international Guru Nanak University being planned at Nankana Sahib would have the best architecture, curricula and research centre on Sikh religion and culture, Chairman of Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), Gen (Retd)
      Zulfikar Ali Khan, said.

    23. Sunny — on 2nd May, 2007 at 11:24 pm  

      All of a sudden we are in Canada? How about we just stick to the UK.

      Oh I’m sorry, I had this bizarre feeling you were making generalisations about people working harder because they belong to a specific religion. I didn’t realise this discussion was only limited to the UK given, you know, you’re the one who started talking about India, Iran etc.

      You’re wasting our time with these pathetic attempts to sound intelligent… yet again. Just don’t do it.

      —-

      Anyway, moving on from pathetic trolls, this i