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The Asian ‘brat-pack’

by Sunny on 2nd June, 2006 at 5:45 pm    

Something a bit more light-hearted for the weekend. Sathnam Sanghera has written a funny article in today’s Financial Times about the British Asian obsession with money, money and boasting about money. He makes a good point.

To find out why so many British Asians in business have egos the size of New Delhi I thought I would talk to Britain’s leading authority on Asian entrepreneurship, Spinder Dhaliwal, a lecturer at the University of Surrey . But while it was reassuring to hear her concede that “there is lots of boasting”, and that “it isn’t the minority that do it either”, I was not satisfied with her explanation that it was all down to “insecurity”.

So I decided to attend the “informal networking evening” after all, for research, and after throwing the subject out for discussion among the uncharacteristically pleasant attendees, I decided there were three central explanations for the phenomenon:
1. Asian culture is incredibly materialistic. …
2. Asians are now so firmly established in business – barely a week passes without the publication of some “Asian rich list” or other…
3. Indian culture remains patriarchal. While boys from birth are never more than two minutes away from fresh chapattis and praise, girls are left in no doubt that they are a burden and will be married off to the first half-sane lad who lollops through the door.

The even funnier thing is this was an event I had organised. Article here. [hat tip: Rakhee]

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  1. Nav — on 2nd June, 2006 at 6:46 pm  

    Insecurity? PAH!

    Work hard: play even harder…

  2. David T — on 2nd June, 2006 at 6:52 pm  

    A friend of mine was at the house of a family which had suffered a bereavement, and they were all in mourning.

    One brother who is ’spiritual’, was sitting on the floor, reading out emails of condolence from the guru in India. The other brother was trading gold futures online.

  3. Sunny — on 2nd June, 2006 at 7:13 pm  

    I’m telling you man, gold futures is where it’s at. The metal is going crazy in prices, and India produces (and consumes) so much of it, I bet it’s going to impact the economy.

  4. SajiniW — on 2nd June, 2006 at 7:48 pm  

    So glad someone’s spoken of the vulgarity that is Reuben and his friends.

    Ketchup and risotto - urgh!

    Guess that’s the nouveau riche for you.

  5. David T — on 2nd June, 2006 at 9:28 pm  

    Me, I’m the vieux pauvre

  6. Bikhair — on 2nd June, 2006 at 10:18 pm  

    No one ever told me what a wasteman was. I am curious.

  7. Nindy — on 3rd June, 2006 at 5:46 pm  

    I salute Sathnam Sanghera!

    “Eee buddie, I got a BMW innit… safe man, safe.”

    “Yeah man, thats proper boss, I got me an s-class man.”

    “sick man, sick.”

    Although I love my fellow brown brothers and sisters, they don’t half love their things. Even as I type, my darling mother has two of her friends over - typically desi they’re drinking cha and passing around some seriously bling gold.

    We indians are so the new bourgeoise.

    p.s. where can I get that article in full for free?!

  8. Sakshi — on 4th June, 2006 at 12:02 pm  

    In my opinion the list is to-the-point. It pinches us in the butt…but thats what we are.

    You can’t live with us and you can’t live without us.

  9. Rakhee — on 4th June, 2006 at 1:09 pm  

    Nindy - I have a copy of it, happy to scan it in and will send it to Sunny tomorrow who (if you ask nicely) am sure will email it on to whoever wants it.

    I’m a huge fan of Sathnam - he’s written some great comment pieces in the past and he’s a rare breed of Asian journalists in mainstream media who doesn’t try too hard and just makes great observations.

    As for what he said, I agree with him. The cars, the money, the status symbols are all the rage with the Asian Brit Pack but I don’t think it extends just to Asians. Take for example, some young black people (esp in the states). It’s all about the bling bling baby.

    Here’s a thought, The Mittals MTV cribs…

  10. Katy Newton — on 4th June, 2006 at 1:10 pm  

    “We indians are so the new bourgeoise.”

    Ha. We Jews were being materialistic years before you lot. The only difference is that at parties we don’t talk about the nice things we’ve got directly, we refer to them in passing whilst talking about traffic because we think it’s less obvious that way.

    “The North Circular was an absolute nightmare getting here. Just as well my new BMW series 5 has such efficient air conditioning.”

    “Really? I didn’t take the North Circ because my Lexus comes with satnav as standard.”

    Et cetera.

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