Nadia Whittome

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[edit] Whittome’s Indian roots

Naomi Canton, Britain’s youngest MP talks about her desi roots & more, January 14, 2020: The Times of India

Nadia Whittome, who is half-Punjabi and half-Anglo-Indian, got actively involved in politics at 16
From: Naomi Canton, Britain’s youngest MP talks about her desi roots & more, January 14, 2020: The Times of India

Whittome, 23, Wants To Work For S Asian Solidarity

At 23, half-Punjabi and half-Anglo-Indian Nadia Whittome is Britain’s youngest sitting MP. The Labour politician, who was elected for the first time in the December parliamentary elections, told TOI in an interview that her win is a big boost for young people of colour and that she aims to work towards solidarity between South Asians in the United Kingdom.

“I’m looking forward to using my position as an Indian-origin MP to build solidarity between South Asian people. Whether we are Bengali, Indian, Pakistani or Kashmiri... we need to come together over our shared interests, experiences and struggles.”

“My election has been a boost for young people of colour in Nottingham,” said Nottingham East’s first BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) MP, who got actively involved in politics at 16.

Up to date on Indian politics, Whittome says she wants to speak to students protesting in India. “I have friends who are very involved in Indian politics. I absolutely resist the BJP and the regime they are presiding over in India. I’m certainly keen to speak with groups … groups that are resisting Modi’s government. I am keen to speak with those and build solidarity with them.”

Born in Nottingham to a Sikh father and Anglo-Indian mother, who later separated, Whittome and her brother — a brick-layer living in Sydney — were raised by their mother. Her 65-year-old father Jagdip’s ancestral village village is Mehrampur in Nawanshahr — not far from fellow Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi’s village Raipur in Jalandhar. He moved to the United Kingdom aged 21, first working in factories as a miner, then giving immigration advice at the local law centre and at one point running a corner shop. Now, he is a driving instructor.

He met Whittome’s mother, Trish, a local government social care lawyer, in Croydon. Trish was born in Britain to Anglo-Indian parents, who had immigrated from Kolkata to the UK in the 1950s.

“My mum’s Catholic and my dad is Sikh. I am a baptised Catholic but not a practising one,” explained Whittome, who dropped out of a law degree at Nottingham University to work as a hate crime worker.

While Dhesi’s village saw celebrations when he first became MP, Whittome said she is “not aware” of any taking place in her ancestral village. “We don’t have any family there now.... My dad left when he was 21 and his parents moved to the UK after him.”

Whittome has been to India only once — at the age of nine with her father — to attend a wedding. “It was great to see where my family came from. I would like to visit India again... I would love to go to Kolkata with my great aunt, my mum and her sister to see where they grew up.”

“I do quite like my bhangra. I don’t watch Bollywood films but when I was a kid I used to watch the Indian soaps with my aunty. The Indian food I have is a mixture of Punjabi and a kind of Anglo-Indian Bengali... It’s funny because I am never seen by white people as being white because I am not. On the Anglo-Indian side, there is some white blood, but it is from 1600 or 1700, and on my dad’s side, my ancestors are all Indian,”she says of her India connection.

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