Hamant Verma: The British Indian approach to business can help us escape recession

Share
Related Topics

British Indians have a conservative culture, with a small "c", which means they are sceptical of change, resourceful and austere – perfect for dealing with a recession. While the regular sight of an Indian housewife parking a large new Mercedes saloon outside one of Ealing Road's modest vegetarian restaurants probably looks ostentatious to indigenous Brits, shrewd Desis will have the nagging feeling that her husband could probably have afforded a bigger one if he wanted.

It is hard for mainstream high streets to draw lessons from the British Indian approach to business, not least because of the idiosyncrasies of south Asian culture. But an analysis should provide them with food for thought. Most British Indian shopkeepers tend to own their premises outright, which helps their ability to leverage.

Many of the shops on Southall Broadway and Ealing Road are family businesses, which means the owner can be flexible with the labour force. And because of the Indian communities' determination to strain every last A grade out of their kids at school, their workforce tend to be well educated.

Customer service is also good at these shops, with the owners personable and knowledgeable about their products. The diligent shopkeeper can become an "uncle" in name to a family in the course of time. Jaffer Kapasi, chairman of Leicestershire Asian Business Association, said the number of banks that have sprung up in and around Belgrave Road, in Leicester, over the past ten years is testament to another positive aspect of desi culture: saving for a rainy day. An inclination to save cash is drummed into Indians from childhood and the slightest hint of personal debt provides a loss of face in the family (and the occasionally threat of a slap on it, if the offender is young enough).

And leaving any debt to future generations is frowned upon in the Indian Diaspora. Let's not forget that a mortgage from a financial institution is only a recent method to buy a flat in big cities such as Mumbai; India is the biggest influence on British Indian culture, after all. If the British Indian community is conservative with a small "c", perhaps the "c" should stand for cost-effective.



Hamant Verma is former Editor of Eastern Eye

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal  

What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson?

Memphis Barker
Chuka Umunna was elected MP for Streatham in 2010  

Could flirty Chuka Umunna be worth a punt for Labour’s top job?

Matthew Norman
Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world