Today the government’s new points-based Ozzie-styled style immigration system comes into force. The gist is a tightening of Visa requirements for entrants of non-EU nation states prioritising the highly skilled. As Brucie, whose knighthood is being clamoured for as we speak, used to put it: what do points make? Points make prizes.” However restaurant chefs rank low in the points-scheme. According to industry insiders the new regime could mean the ruin of the UK curry industry which contributes a healthy whack to the national economy. That’s 80,000 people employed in 10,000 restuarants worth £3.5 billion per anum.
The Red Hot Curry article gets in a pop at Eastern Europeans implying that the Polish are better suited to unblocking toilets than creating “Indian” delicacies. A restauarateur interviewed by the Bucks Free Press concurrs: “The Government are telling us to employ local people, but when you try to employ Polish people you find they can’t make a chapatti” and in the Times the head honcho of Brick Lane’s Cafe Naz says: “I tried to employ a Polish man in my restaurant. He didn’t last the week. It’s… very hard work, and when he got home his girlfriend complained he smelled of curry.”
Yet this shouldn’t be about competing ethnic groups. Stuff in Indian restauarants is served up by Bengalis and was concieved in the UK to appease the western palatte. It’s now part of British national culture. The late Robin Cook cited Chicken Tikka Masala as the UK’s national dish and at the time it was calculated that sales of it (including the microwavable ready meal versions) were outselling fish and chips by a huge margin.
Effects of this new crackdown have also been felt in Birmingham’s curry triangle, Scotland and (just like the burning of Jade Goody effigies) been reported in India. This country has been greatly enriched by world cuisines yet surely the answer to a bleak future where the Goodness Gracious Me “going for an English” becomes reality would be more training in catering via NVQs and other elements of the formal qualifications framework that accomodate the diversity of cooking in the current UK. A reclassification of cooking to accept it as a skilled activity would also be welcome although there are additional hurdles of language proficiency that new entrants must demonstrate. Such obstacles should not be relevant to the second generatoin but according to Rajman Sarker cooking is not considered cool by them: “The younger generation are not interested in tradition at all and people born in this country would prefer to work in Tesco and not follow the family business.”