Southall: Chota Punjab, west London
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Southall: Chota Punjab, west London book
Southall is a densely populated, multi-ethnic suburb of west London situated near Heathrow Airport. The majority of its inhabitants are of Punjabi origin – some having come to Britain from East Africa – and predominantly of Sikh religion, complemented by sizeable numbers of Punjabi Hindus and Muslims from both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border. This diverse Punjabi majority lives alongside minorities of English, Irish and Afro-Caribbean backgrounds. Southall has attracted migrants since the beginning of this century when local manufacturing industries began to develop. In the 1930s they came from the depressed coal-mining areas of South Wales and Durham as well as from the poorer rural regions of Southern Ireland. West Indian migration to Southall began in the late 1940s and continued until the 1960s, mainly from Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada and Dominica. Punjabi migration began in the 1950s. With the partition of India in 1947, the Punjab was split between India and Pakistan and there was a massive relocation of its inhabitants. Large numbers of Sikhs and Hindus migrated into the Indian part of Punjab, intensifying economic competition and the demand for land. Males from the rural villages of the Punjab, predominantly farmers and landowners of the Jat caste of Sikhs, in fear of becoming landless and in search of better prospects, took up the offer of jobs at Woolfe’s Rubber Company, Nestlé and Lyons food-processing plants and other local industries (Bains, 1988). Paradoxically, the tightening of British immigration laws in the 1960s led to a surge of migration, this time of the wives and children of earlier migrants who, fearing the imposition of further immigration restrictions, came to join their husbands and to reunite their families (Brah, 1982).