British Indians, who overwhelmingly favored Britain to remain in the European Union, decried the June 23 vote on the referendum commonly referred to as Brexit, saying it was a "nightmare" for the nation.
The United Kingdom is home to over 1.4 million British Indians, according to the 2011 census. According to the "British-Indians for IN" campaign, 1.2 million British Indians were eligible to vote in the EU referendum June 23. The campaign received support from British Indian parliamentarians across all the major political parties, including the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats. #Brexit has been trending on social media since before the referendum, and most British Indians favored the vote to stay.
The British Indians India-West spoke with unanimously voted to 'Remain.' Many posted their opinion before and after the voting on social media.
Priya Sharma, a 36-year-old merchandiser from Central London came to the UK 12 years ago. Married to a Scottish-Indian, she was shocked when she learned that Britain had voted 'Out.' She said: "I work near Borough Market in London; I consume a little part of EU everyday."
"From my morning cup of French coffee to German sausages and the Greek olive spread I put on my locally baked bread, which I am sure uses a medley of Europe-imported ingredients, people don't realize the importance of staying with the EU, but they will, soon. It's too bad it happened," she stated.
Sharma is not alone.
Geetanjali Ramanathan, CFO of a London-based Merger and Acquisitions advisory firm, rues: "I think it's a very uncertain period. These kinds of decisions should never be left to such black and white referendums. There had to have been better ways of dealing with the issues of immigration and budget before it got to this."
"There are threats of Scotland leaving. There has been a lot of misinformation and back peddling on promises already. Really sad. The politicians will need to navigate carefully, and I am not feeling too optimistic at the moment," said Ramanathan.
Ramanathan's husband, founder and managing director of their M&A firm adds: "Everyone we know who's well educated voted 'Remain.' The couple of people we know who voted 'Leave' are more the working class whose jobs have been affected maybe by the inflow of people from EU, which has lowered wages and increased competition for them."
"But look at the bright side: With the 10 percent fall in the pound, it's cheaper for U.S. companies to acquire companies in the UK and for folks in the U.S. to invest in real estate in the UK. Am guessing this will happen. Hopefully the government here is smart enough to use this to negotiate a better deal with the EU. I think they will. This too shall pass, eventually," he said.
Anjali Pathania, a London banker, is disappointed at the outcome. She said: "For a government that was elected with majority just last year, the fact that this result has Cameron stepping down and no concrete succession plans in place is also very concerning. It's already having a tumultuous effect on world economies, and it's very difficult for the common man in England to comprehend what its repercussions are going to be in the immediate future. Am really disappointed too."
For Ashley Mahajan, a British woman from Nottingham, married to an Indian, this decision means nothing short of a disaster. She said: "My reaction to Brexit is basically horror. It is so disappointing that more than half the population of the UK have voted to leave despite the far reaching financial and political ramifications."
"To ignore the advice of the majority of politicians and leading economists, financiers and business leaders is utter folly, and, as far as I can see, the only reason they have done so is through a misguided belief that foreigners are over-running our country, taking our jobs, etc., which is simply not true," said Mahajan.
"These people seem to believe that we are back in colonial times, that the British Empire still exists. And for this, they have ruined our economy and future prospects, not just in the short term but in the long term. This decision will have far-reaching effects for our children. They will not have the same security, the same opportunities that we had, and will be brought up in a land of imbecilic, imperialist xenophobes. The older generation have severely compromised the future of the young," she said.
Several British-Indians pondered the aftermath of the vote. Niyant Kumar, partner with a global consulting firm in London that helps foreign companies do business with India and vice versa, said: "As the dust settles, attention is going to turn to what happens next."
"A timeline is emerging, the first key date of which will be the handover to the next PM in the next three months, following David Cameron’s resignation, which doesn't reflect well on the country's leadership attitude. This is no doubt just the beginning of much deliberation and behind-closed-door discussions. What example are we setting for other nations and regions to follow? What's next — Scotland regaining independence from the UK, France exiting the EU, or Londoners petitioning for separation from the UK and forming its own alliance with the EU?" he pondered.
"The aspect that frustrates me the most is how as a society we seem to be regressing. Irrespective of our economic, political and immigration viewpoints, fundamentally shouldn't we be thinking more about how we can work together with other nations, countries and races? Haven't we seen enough impact of racial and political segregation to rationalize the exile of people from a particular religious background?" said Kumar, obliquely referring to Trump.
"A Bremain campaign line that has always resonated well with me: Marriage is never easy, but wait till you face the reality of divorce and the implications of breaking that union. Good luck, Britain. Good luck, World. Let the pain begin," he added.
His marketing executive wife, Bhavya Kapoor, who is more relaxed about the situation, expressed her reaction with a charming one-liner: "I think #HesNotThatIntoEU."