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  • Weekly round up of news and blogs

    by Sunny
    29th January, 2006 at 9:14 pm    

    Should Indian (i.e. Bangladeshi) restaurants be employing Eastern Europeans to fulfil labour shortages? Too much cultural difference or are they just being racist?. Either way, restaurants are increasingly facing big labour shortages. [via Frank Jordans]

    This week’s New Statesman has a cover story on India with accompany articles, so make sure you check it out. Commentary by William Dalrymple, Pankaj Mishra, Edward Luce, Ziauddin Sardar, Basharat Peer, Amit Chaudhuri and others [via Jay Singh].

    Prospect magazine last week also featured a cover piece on India, focusing instead on why western philosophy remains so sealed off from eastern thinking and philosophy. A bit of intellectual snobbery perhaps?

    Taking recent examples such as Kate Moss’ cocaine addiction and more recently attacks by the Murdoch press on Lib Dems, blogger Curious Hamster writes a brilliant piece on how the media has recently dealt with issues and agendas very selectively.

    National Nitwit has written a satirical piece on Hamas naming a Minister for Car Bombs.

    Baraka writes on delicious desi aunties (it’s a clean piece dammit), and laments the move towards a westernised ideal of skinny women.

    Simon Barrow is keeping readers updated on developments and vigils for the four Christian peacemakers abducted in Iraq.

    Bloggers in the middle east meanwhile are keenly watching an Israeli-Iranian summit. Hoder, an Iranian blogger based in Canada, has just landed in Israel to meet Lisa.

    That’s it this week, Tim Worstall has his weekly britblog roundup, and keep sending in those links!

                  Post to

    Filed in: India,South Asia,The World

    13 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. Frank notes

      Cultural barriers

      The Asian Times reports that Indian (by which they presumably mean Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi) restaurants have been asked by the Home Office to cease discriminating against Eastern Europeans seeking work in their kitchens. Apparently, restauran…

    1. Rohin — on 29th January, 2006 at 10:08 pm  

      And Gong Hai Fat Choi! The year of the main course. I mean dog.

    2. Sunny — on 30th January, 2006 at 12:15 am  

      D’oh! I forgot to say it was the Chinese Happy New Year! Damn you Rohin, do you always have to make me look incompetent :’(

    3. Rohin — on 30th January, 2006 at 12:39 am  

      Nah Sunny, you do that perfectly well yourself.

    4. tanvir — on 30th January, 2006 at 11:21 am  

      The rate-limiting factor in with the Indian restaurant business at the moment is definitely staff.

      Major restaurateurs dont give a damn about race of staff, they care about their bank balances. My dad employs non-asian staff, Bosnian and Iranians. They are however doing menial jobs such as preparing salads, or just serving food (not-taking orders).

      The cooking aspect of it has two tiers, one kind of restaurant where the food is quite generic with the chefs own little twist (after some experience), or what are seen as ‘proper’ chefs, who are innovative and have some depth in their understanding of the asian cooking process and are able to from time to time invent their own dishes.

      The latter kind of chef is much much harder to come by, where as the generic chef whose curry is all made from the same base of tomato puree etc still needs a good year or twos experience, usually at smaller take-aways before they can be left in charge of a kitchen.

      —The front house work i.e. waiter / host work requires someone with good english, some knowledge of customer service, and good personality to build a good rapport with customers all of whom are targets to be charmed into becoming regulars. On top of all that, the person needs to be trust worthy, as they are handling thousands or many thousands of pounds every night, therefore a family member is usually preferred.

      So why not train these eastern european workers to be able to do all the above? It is a long, time consuming and costly process. What if after all that the guy leaves? This happens a lot. What I have also noted is that my dad has trained up a lot of pakistani staff to be competent in the kitchen to the level of tandoori chef….but in Nottingham, the trend is: as soon as they have been in the country long enough, and have gotten all their relevant licenses….they go off to be taxi drivers.

      So the reason why kitchen staff are sought from places like Bangladesh is usually due to language skills, familiarity with dishes / spices and furthermore the contact is likely to be known through someone at some sort of personal or family level therefore there is to some degree peace of mind upon whether the guy is going to be reliable and dedicated to starting this career. Staff for ‘front-house’ jobs are sought abroad for the same reasons and also because restaurateurs prefer family members handling cash.

      There is a more sinister side to this seemingly legitimate practice. This is when the system gets abused in order to make money. There are people in the sub-continent who are desperate to come to the UK and who are willing to pay large sums of money to do so. So some corrupt restaurateurs charge these people money to bring them over as restaurant staff, and I think that contributed to the government making the decision to end staff imports from the subcontinent.

    5. Jay Singh — on 30th January, 2006 at 12:01 pm  


      That was a really interesting post - thanks!

    6. Bikhair — on 30th January, 2006 at 8:13 pm  

      “Baraka writes on delicious desi aunties (it’s a clean piece dammit), and laments the move towards a westernised ideal of skinny women.”

      Chubbies are such haters.

    7. Bikhair — on 30th January, 2006 at 8:16 pm  


      In the U.S. no matter what resturant you go to there are always Latinos working in the back. The servering or waiter/waitress staff are white but the cooks and cleans are always Latino and paid in cash. I was surprised to see even at my favorite Bangali food place to see Latinos cooking Bangali food. Business is cool that way. No ideology except the Benjamins.

    8. Col. Mustafa — on 30th January, 2006 at 8:19 pm  

      Woah, latinos cooking indian food.
      hmmm, cool.

    9. Sunny — on 30th January, 2006 at 9:55 pm  

      Bikki hunny, your husband lets you out of the house? Now there’s a surprise!

    10. Tanvir — on 31st January, 2006 at 3:26 pm  

      Ok, so I told you guys about the basic reasons why Eastern Europeans are not getting to work in ‘Indian’ restaurants.

      Here’s the other unspoken reason:

      Average asian man gets about £180-200 for working in a kitchen, tandoori chef: £200-240, chef: £220-350.On the books: everyone gets paid £80-120(max) a week.

      Now the worker squeezes every penny possible out of the DSS for low-income, 10 kids, disability etc, and tops up his earnings to bring it close to earning around £25k a year (tax-free)… so the equivalent of someone having a £30k+ a year job. How many average Joe chefs get paid that much?

      Unless you participate in the scam as a restaurant owner, you are just not going to get staff. Nobody will want to work for you and effectively get paid half of what they could do through the scam.

      Now this is a problem for the restaurant owner, how is he going to balance the books? He is showing on paper only paying the guy £80 but he is paying £180 and is having to steal this extra £100 each, for several staff from the business or company. Some better established restaurants have managed to get over these obstacles these days by paying higher wages and also just hiring non-Asian staff that may not be accustomed to the DSS scamming practices.

      I think the whole DSS culture of much of Asian Britain is disgusting, and is a parasite of the community that must be tackled to remove some of the barriers to progress. No doubt there are genuine claimants, but then there are many who are not. If I had the time that is one issue I would definitely like to write and raise awareness about, and I commend Tony Blair’s efforts to get people of incapacity benefits.

      The culture promoted by state handouts is so detrimental to the communities. At first instance you may think its good for them because they are getting money for free, but it is actually the worst thing you could do for some of these people. When a kid sees his parents sitting at home, doing nothing, how on earth is he or she going to be inspired to pursue the success that people in this country have the privileges of having access to?

      I remember once there was a cleric who came from Bangladesh to our mosque on tabliq. In his sermon he raised the issue of brothers not working to earn a living, and how they could spend hours at a mosque which is all noble work, but he basically said earning their living in a respectable way should come first and gave various examples from Quran and Sunnah. Rather than take heed a large number of the pan chewing old men just cussed him behind his back the following week by which time this cleric had continued on his travels

    11. Sunny — on 31st January, 2006 at 3:58 pm  

      I agree, its a parasitic problem. There are groups of Afghani Singhs who do the same. I think over time these guys will add back to the economy by having to become more open about their earnings, and spending the money on local goods, but its a shame that in the short term they’re sponging off the state.

      Saying that, I’m not sure there are that many because the number of officially unemployed is still pretty low as a number for the economy, and has been for a while despite absorbing all these migrant workers.

    12. shan — on 14th February, 2006 at 5:02 pm  


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