The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Asians put pound stamp on UK life

London, Sept. 1: British Asians make up 4 per cent of the population of the UK, but contribute '103 billion to the economy ' about 10 per cent of the country’s entire economic output.

This was claimed last night by a Manchester-based group, the Institute of Asian Professionals, which held a function in London to launch a “power list” of the 100 most influential Asians in Britain.

On the list were some well-known names such as Lakshmi Mittal and Lord Swraj Paul, who are both in steel, Sir Gulam Noon, who put chilled Indian meals into supermarkets, Amartya Sen, former Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Avtar Lit, whose Sunrise Radio provides a backdrop in thousands of Asian names.

The chairman of the organisers, Khalid Darr, who is a publisher, said the figure of '103 billion ' this seems far too high to many ' was derived by “extrapolating research” from several sources, including “a database of 300,000 Asian professionals”.

“The figures are quite staggering,” Darr admitted. “Entrepreneurship, coupled with a wonderful work ethic, fuelled with a desire to better oneself, is a potent force driving the British Asian business community.”

He added that his power list, which was “verified by peer groups”, would be updated annually. He had included not only “the usual suspects” ' a reference to wealthy businessmen ' but also people who were prominent in human rights (such as Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty).

Noon said he was not convinced by the '103-billion figure. The former president of the London Chamber of Commerce said: “Our research showed there were 40,000 Asian-owned businesses in London which had created 300,000 jobs and were contributing '60 billion to the economy. Since Asian businesses are concentrated in London, that nationwide figure of '103 billion seems a bit far-fetched to me.”

Lord (Meghnad) Desai, a professor at the London School of Economics, said the Asian contribution “could be anywhere between '50 billion and '150 billion.

“Asian professionals earn above average,” he pointed out. “Hindu professionals are the richest, Bangladeshi Muslims are the poorest.”

Muslims are well represented on the power list. Among those included is Sir Anwar Pervez, chairman of the Bestway cash and carry group, whose story is a classic rags to riches.

Artistic influence is difficult to define but no one will quibble with the choice of Gurinder Chadha, whose Bend It Like Beckham has encouraged a whole generation of young Asian men and women to go into acting.

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