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British Asian

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British Asians
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Total population
British South Asians (total of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi census categories)
3,078,374 (2011)
Regions with significant populations
United KingdomUnited Kingdom (figures are total of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi categories)
England England 2,944,498 (5.5%) (2011)
Scotland Scotland 85,875 (1.6%) (2011)
Wales Wales 40,172 (1.3%) (2011)
Northern Ireland N.Ireland 7,829 (0.4%) (2011)
Languages

Primary language: English

Ancestral languages: Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Nepali and others
Religion
Chiefly Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism
Christian, Buddhist, Jain and Atheist minorities

British Asians (also referred as South Asians in the United Kingdom, Asian British people or Asian Britons), are persons of Asian descent who resides in the United Kingdom.[1] In British English usage, the term Asians usually includes British originating only from South Asia. Prior to the formation of the United Kingdom, immigration of South Asian ethnic groups to England began with the arrival of the East India Company to the Indian subcontinent. This continued during the British Raj and increased in volume after the independence of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka from the British rule, chiefly for education and economic pursuits. A major influx of Asian immigrants, mostly Muslims and Polytheists, also took place following the expulsion of Indian communities (then holders of British passports) from Uganda.

Terminology

In Britain, the word "Asian" usually refers specifically to people of South Asian ancestry (Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans). This usage contrasts to that in the United States, where it is used to refer to people of East Asian origin.[2][3] The British Sociological Association's guidelines on equality and diversity suggest that "South Asian" is more precise than "Asian", and that the latter should not be used where there is a risk of it conflating South Asians with people from elsewhere in Asia.[3]

The United Kingdom Census 1991 was the first to include a question on ethnicity (apart from in Northern Ireland, where the question was not asked until 2001). The question had tick-boxes for "Indian", "Pakistani" and "Bangladeshi". There was also a "Chinese" tick box, as well as a general "Any other ethnic group (please describe)" option for those not wishing to identify with any of the pre-set tick boxes. For the 2001 Census, in England and Wales, "Indian", "Pakistani" and "Bangladeshi" and "Any other Asian background (please write in)" options were grouped under an "Asian or Asian British" heading, with "Chinese" appearing under a separate heading. In Scotland, all of these tick-boxes were grouped together under an "Asian, Asian Scottish or Asian British or Asian British" heading, and in Northern Ireland no broad headings were used, just tick-boxes for each of the Asian groups.[4] The 2011 Census questionnaire was more consistent with regard to the grouping of Asian ethnicities, such that Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese and any other Asian background options appeared under a broad "Asian/Asian British" ("Asian, Asian Scottish or Asian British" in Scotland) heading in all parts of the UK.[5]

Demographics

The 2011 UK Census recorded 1,451,862 residents of Indian, 1,174,983 of Pakistani and 451,529 of Bangladeshi ethnicity, making a total South Asian population of 3,078,374 (4.9 per cent of the total population), excluding other Asian groups and people of mixed ethnicity.[6]

South Asian ethnic groups mostly originate from a few select places in South Asia, these are known as place of origins. British Indians tend to originate mainly from the two Indian States, Punjab and Gujarat.[7] Evidence from Bradford and Birmingham have shown, Pakistanis originate largely from the Mirpur District in Azad Kashmir. The second largest ethnic group of British Pakistanis are the Punjabi people, largely from Attock District of Punjab followed by pathans and other ethnic groups from the districts of Nowshera, Peshwar and Ghazi in province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In the London Borough of Waltham Forest there are substantial numbers of Pakistani people originating from Jhelum, Punjab.[8] Studies have shown 95 per cent of Bangladeshis originate from the Sylhet region in the north east of Bangladesh.[9][10] In Tower Hamlets, people have origins in different zones in the Sylhet region, mainly from Jagannathpur, Beanibazar and Bishwanath.[11] The language spoken by Indians are, Punjabi, Gujarati, Kutchi, Hindustani, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu. People from Pakistan speak Urdu, Punjabi, Mirpuri, Hindko (dialects of Punjabi), Sindhi, Kashmiri, Pashto, and Seraiki. Gujaratis who emigrated from India and East Africa speak Gujarati, Hindi, and Kutchi (a dialect of Sindhi), while a sizeable number of Gujarati Muslims speak Urdu for religious and cultural reasons.[12] Bangladeshis from Sylhet speak Sylheti (a dialect of Bengali) and Bengali. People from Sri Lanka speak Tamil and Sinhala. Those who speak dialects mainly refer their language to the main language, for example Sylheti speakers say they speak Bengali or Mirpuri speakers say they speak Punjabi. The reason for this is because they do not expect outsiders to be well informed about dialects.[13]

The unemployment rate among Indian men was only slightly higher than that for White British or White Irish men, 7 per cent compared with 5 per cent for the other two groups. On the other hand Pakistanis have higher unemployment rates of 13-14% with Bangladeshis having one of the highest rates, around 23%.[14] Some surveys also revealed the Indian unemployment rate to be 6-7%[15] Persons of Indian or mixed Indian origin are more likely than White British to have university degrees, whereas Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are less likely.[16] With the exception of Bangladeshi women, every other group of South Asians, have higher attendance at university than the national average.[17] GCSE pass rates have been rising for all South Asians.[18]

According to the United Kingdom Census 2001, South Asian men from all South Asian ethnic groups intermarried with another ethnic group more than South Asian women. Among South Asians, British Indians intermarried with a different ethnic group the most both absolutely and proportionately, followed by British Pakistanis and British Bangladeshis.

Religion

The current Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, resides in South London.

The first group of Asian Muslims to migrate in significant numbers, in the 18th century, were lascars (sailors) recruited from the Indian subcontinent (largely from the Bengal region) to work for the British East India Company, most of whom settled down and took local wives.[19] Due to the majority being lascars, the earliest Muslim communities were found in port towns. Naval cooks also came, many of them from the Sylhet Division of what is now Bangladesh. One of the most famous early Bengali Muslim immigrants to England was Sake Dean Mahomet, a captain of the British East India Company who in 1810 founded London's first Indian restaurant, the Hindoostane Coffee House. He is also reputed for introducing shampoo and therapeutic massage to the United Kingdom.[20]

There have been three waves of migration of Hindus in the United Kingdom.The first wave was before India's independence in 1947. In the early 1960s the Conservative Health Minister the Rt Hon Enoch Powell recruited a large number of doctors from the Indian sub-continent. The second wave occurred in the 1970s mainly from East Africa. The later communities included those from Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Mauritius and Fiji. The last wave of migration began in the 1990s and included Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka and professionals including doctors and software engineers from India. British Pakistani and Bangladeshi are much more religiously homogeneous, with Muslims accounting for 92% of each group while their counterparts of index.phpIndian and Sri Lankan origin tend to be religiously diverse, with 55% Hindus, 29% Sikhs, and 15% Muslims. British Gujaratis are predominantly Hindu belonging to various caste organizations, with large minorities of Muslims, Jains, and smaller numbers of Christians and Zoroastrians. South Asians who marked "Other Asian" as an ethnic group and then wrote in their specific ethnic group were mostly (23%) of Sri Lankan origin. Due to a growing sense of affiliation with Britain, many third generation South Asians chose to not mark "Asian or British Asian" and instead marked "British Asian" in the "Other Asian" write in section.[21] Notable religious buildings are the East London Mosque, London Central Mosque, Birmingham Central Mosque, Baitul Futuh, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir London, Bradford Lakshmi Narayan Hindu Temple and Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha.

The publication of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses in 1988 caused major controversy. Muslims condemned the book for blasphemy. On 2 December 1988 the book was publicly burned at a demonstration in Bolton attended by 7,000 Muslims, followed by a similar demonstration and book-burning in Bradford on 14 January 1989.[22] In 1989 Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwā ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie.[23]

Britain is also home of notable Asian religious leaders and scholars. Some of them are Mirza Masroor Ahmad (Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Community), Sheikh Abdul Qayum (one of the best known scholars in Europe and Chief Imam of East London Mosque), Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq (Khateeb of Birmingham Central Mosque), Dr. Mahmudul Hasan (Khateeb of Essex Mosque), Abdul Rahman Madani (Chairman of Global Eid Trust and Chief Imam of Darul Ummah Mosque), Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi (principal of Hijaz College), Ajmal Masroor (Imam and Liberal Democrats politician) and Pramukh Swami Maharaj (fifth spiritual successor of Hindu Swaminarayan).

History in Britain

Allamah Muhammad Iqbal is one of the most essential figures in South Asia.

The earliest date at which South Asians settled in Great Britain is not clear.

If the Romany (Gypsies) are included, then the earliest arrivals were in the Middle Ages. DNA surveys have linked Romanies to present-day South Asian populations and the Romany language is a member of the Indo-Aryan language family. Romanies are believed to have begun travelling westward around 1000 CE, and have mixed with South-west Asian and European populations over many centuries.

Romani began arriving in sizeable numbers in parts of Western Europe in the 16th century. The Romani who settled in Britain are known as Romanichal.

When the Portuguese Vasco da Gama arrived in India in 1498, he opened a direct maritime route between South Asia and Europe. In the following century many South Asians arrived in Europe by sea as sailors, slaves and servants. Trade and English piracy brought some of these people to Britain and four South Asian men in London answered the call for sailors for the first English East India Company fleet to Asia. Their Portuguese names identifies them as Luso-Asians.[24]

People from South Asia have settled in Great Britain since the East India Company (EIC) recruited lascars to replace vacancies in their crews on East Indiamen whilst on voyages in India starting from the 1600s. Many were then refused passage back, and were marooned in London. There were also some ayahs, domestic servants and nannies of wealthy British families, who accompanied their employers back to Britain when their stay in Asia came to an end.

The Navigation Act of 1660 restricted the employment of non-English sailors to a quarter of the crew on returning East India Company ships. Baptism records in East Greenwich suggest that young Indians from the Malabar Coast were being recruited as servants at the end of the seventeenth century, and records of the EIC also suggest that Indo-Portuguese cooks from Goa were retained by captains from voyage to voyage.[25] In 1797, 13 were buried in the parish of St Nicholas at Deptford.

Since the 17th century, the East India Company brought over thousands of South Asian lascars, scholars and workers (who were mostly Bengali and/or Muslim) to Britain, most of whom settled down and took local white British wives, due to a lack of South Asian women in Britain at the time.[26] Due to the majority of early South Asian immigrants being lascars, the earliest South Asian communities were found in port towns. Naval cooks also came, many of them from the Sylhet Division of what is now Bangladesh. One of the most famous early Bengali immigrants to Britain was Sake Dean Mahomet, a captain of the British East India Company. In 1810, he founded London's first Indian restaurant, the Hindoostane Coffee House. He is also reputed for introducing shampoo and therapeutic massage to the United Kingdom.[27] By the mid-19th century, there were more than 40,000 Indian seamen, diplomats, scholars, soldiers, officials, tourists, businessmen and students in Britain.[28] By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were around 70,000 South Asians in Britain,[29] 51,616 of whom were lascar seamen (when World War I began).[30]

Following the Second World War and the breakup of the British Empire, South Asian migration to the UK increased through the 1950s and 1960s from Pakistan (including present-day Bangladesh) and Commonwealth countries such as India, at the same time as immigrants from former Caribbean colonies were also moving to Britain.

Although this immigration was continuous, several distinct phases can be identified:

  • Manual workers, mainly from Pakistan, were recruited to fulfill the labour shortage that resulted from World War II. These included Anglo-Indians who were recruited to work on the railways as they had done in India.
  • Workers mainly from the Punjab region of India and some from Pakistan arrived in the late 1950s and 1960s. Many worked in the foundries of the English Midlands and a large number worked at Heathrow Airport in west London. This created an environment to where the next generation of families did not lose their identity as easily. An example would be Southall which is populated by many Sikhs.
  • During the same time, medical staff from the Indian subcontinent were recruited for the newly formed National Health Service. These people were targeted as the British had established medical schools in the Indian subcontinent which conformed to the British standards of medical training.

Beginning around 1964 Africanization policies in East Africa prompted the arrival of Asians with British passports from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. At first these were the people employed in government and administrative roles, but this was expended to include those Asians engaged in commerce. The movement was called the "Exodus".[31]

In 1972, all South Asians were expelled from Uganda by the controversial figure Idi Amin, then president of Uganda. Those holding British passports came to Britain. Many such displaced people who were predominantly of Gujarati origins had left behind successful businesses and vast commercial empires in Uganda, but built up their lives all over again in Britain, starting from scratch. Some of these "twice-over" migrants became retailers, while others found suitable employment in white-collar professions.

The Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 and Immigration Act 1971 largely restricted any further primary immigration, although family members of already-settled migrants were still allowed. In addition, much of the subsequent growth in the South Asian community has come from the births of second and third-generation South Asian Britons.

Influence

British-Indian Lakshmi Mittal is one of the wealthiest persons in the world.

South Asians are said to contribute 6% to the UK GDP, whilst making up only 4% of the population.[32][33] Other sources state that the figure may be even higher - the Centre for Social Markets estimates that British Asian businesses contribute as much as 10% of total GDP.[34] Although there are roughly double the number of South Asians in the UK today compared to people of African descent, South Asians are less represented in global and British media than any other major group; in the UK there is less than half the amount of South Asians represented in the media than those of African and Caribbean descent.

The biggest influence of South Asians on popular British culture has probably been the spread of Indian cuisine, though of the 9,000 Indian restaurants in the UK, most are run by Bangladeshis; their ancestral home was part of British India's Bengal province until partition in 1947. South Asians have also played a pivotal role in rejuvenating a number of UK street markets. According to the New Economics Foundation, Queen's Market in Upton Park, East London is officially the most ethnically diverse.

As in Canada, Bhangra music has become popular among many in Britain [35] not only from the works of British South Asian musicians such as Panjabi MC, Swami and Rishi Rich but also incorporated into the works of a number of non-South Asian musicians not only British but including North American artists such as Canadian Shania Twain, who created a whole alternate version of her multi-platinum album Up! with full Indian instrumentation, produced by South Asian producers Simon & Diamond. Diamond, better known as DJ Swami has also collaborated with rapper Pras, of The Fugees, and his band Swami have become one of the most renowned acts in South Asian music history, having had songs in major Hollywood movies and best-selling video games. One of the first artists of South Asian Indian origin to achieve mainstream success was Apache Indian who infused reggae and hip hop with Indian popular music to create a sound that transcended genre and found a multicultural audience. He is the only Indian artist to have achieved 7 top forty hits in the National UK charts. A subsequent wave of "Asian Underground" artists went on to blend elements of western underground dance music and the traditional music of their home countries, such as Nitin Sawhney, Talvin Singh, Asian Dub Foundation, Panjabi MC, Raghav, and the Rishi Rich Project (featuring Rishi Rich, Jay Sean and Juggy D).

The influence of South Asian music has not only been from South Asians living in the UK, but also from some UK artists that were starting using South Asian instruments creating a new sound that was a mixture of sitars and tablas with more rock-based western instruments like drums and guitar.[36][37]

The films East is East, Chicken Tikka Masala and Bend It Like Beckham and the TV shows Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No. 42 have managed to attract large, multi-ethnic audiences. The success and popularity of British Pakistani boxer Amir Khan influenced the revival of boxing on ITV Sport.

Lakshmi Mittal is currently Britain's richest man and the fifth richest man in the world. The Mittal family owns 43% of Arcelor-Mittal, the world's largest steel manufacturer, which was known as Mittal Steel Company before the merger with Arcelor. He was listed in the Forbes List of Billionaires (2006) as the richest Indian and the fifth richest man in the world with an estimated fortune of $55.0 billion and, according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2006, is the richest in the UK, with a net worth of £29 billion. The Financial Times named Mittal its 2006 Person of the Year. In 2005, he was the third richest man in the world according to Forbes List of billionaires (2005).

In 2004 it was reported that UK Sikhs had the highest percentage of home ownership, at 82%, out of all UK religious communities.[38] UK Sikhs are the wealthiest south Asian immigrant group in the UK and the second wealthiest (after the Jews) religious community in the UK, with a median total household wealth of £229,000.[39]

Art

Anish Kapoor, CBE, RA (born 12 March 1954) is an Indian-born British sculptor. Born in Mumbai, Kapoor has lived and worked in London since the early 1970s when he moved to study art, first at the Hornsey College of Art and later at the Chelsea College of Art and Design. Kapoor received the Turner Prize in 1991. Born in London and of Asian origin Shezad Dawood became known for this work in various media in the early 2000s. Also born in London and of Pakistani origin, Haroon Mirza emerged as an artist in the late 2000s. Best known for his sculptural installations that generate sound, Mirza was awarded the Silver Lion for the Most Promising Artist at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011.

Literature

Well-known South Asian writers include H.S. Bhabra, Salman Rushdie, Ghulam Murshid, Tahir Shah, Gurinder Chadha, Nazrin Choudhury, Rekha Waheed, Hanif Kureshi, Monica Ali, Meera Syal, Gautam Malkani, Bali Rai and Raman Mundair.

Sports

Amir Khan (left) and Malignaggi, champions of 2004 Summer Olympics.

Jawaid Khaliq, the first world champion boxer of Pakistani origin, was born in Nottingham. Amir Khan, the silver medallist at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, has become a cultural icon in the UK with TV audiences of up to 8 million watching him fight. Khan represents Britain in boxing and is the current WBA world light welterweight champion. The boxer Haider Ali won the first ever gold medal for Pakistan in boxing at the commonwealth games in Manchester in 2002 in the featherweight division.[40]

Nasser Hussain was the captain of the England cricket team. Michael Chopra played for the England national under-21 football team and became the first footballer of Indian descent to play and score in the Premier League. In 2006 he scored the fastest goal in Premier League history, as Chopra had only been on the pitch for ten seconds after coming on as a substitute.[41] Swansea City defender, Neil Taylor is also of Indian descent.

Other British South Asian sport personalities:

Celebrities in popular culture

Shazia Mirza is a popular British comedienne.

Early South Asian stars to break into English and Hollywood films include Sabu, remembered for his lead roles in The Thief of Bagdad (1940), Jungle Book (1942), and Black Narcissus (1947).

Since the 1970s, South Asian performers and writers have achieved significant mainstream cultural success. The first South Asian musician to gain wide popularity in the UK and worldwide fame was Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, East Africa, to parents of Parsi descent from Bombay. In 2006, Time Asia magazine voted him as one of the most influential South Asians in the past 60 years.[42] At around the same time, music producer, composer and song-writer Biddu gained worldwide fame for a number of hit songs, including "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas and "I Love to Love (But My Baby Loves to Dance)" for Tina Charles. In the 1990s the South Asian artists who gained mainstream success included Apache Indian, whose 1993 single "Boom Shack-A-Lak" was used in many Hollywood movies, and Jas Mann, who headed Babylon Zoo and whose 1996 single "Spaceman" set a UK chart record when it sold 418,000 copies in its first week of release.

Prominent South Asian actors in the 1980s included Art Malik, for his roles in The Jewel in the Crown and The Living Daylights, and Sir Ben Kingsley (born Krishna Pandit Bhanji), one of Britain's most acclaimed and well-known performers. Kingsley is one of few actors to have won all four major motion picture acting awards, receiving Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards throughout his career, including the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Gandhi (1982).[43] The actress Parminder Nagra has a prominent role in the US TV series ER, and played the lead role in the successful British film Bend It Like Beckham (2002). The actor Naveen Andrews plays the role of Sayid Jarrah in the popular US TV series Lost, and also had a prominent role in the award-winning film The English Patient (1996). The actor Kunal Nayyar plays the character of Rajesh Koothrappali in the popular US sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. Long-running British soap operas such as Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks have all had a number of South Asian characters.

The comedians Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, Papa CJ and Shazia Mirza are all well-recognised figures in British popular culture. The presenter and match maker of the BBC marriage arranging show Arrange Me a Marriage is a South Asian-Scot Aneela Rahman. Hardeep Singh Kohli is a presenter, reporter and comedian on British television and radio. British Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian contestants have appeared on The Apprentice including Syed Ahmed, Tre Azam, Lohit Kalburgi, Ghazal Asif, Shazia Wahab, Sara Dhada, and most notably Saira Khan, who is now a British TV presenter. The broadcasters Daljit Dhaliwal, Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Samira Ahmed are known for working on Channel 4 News.

The award winning dance act Signature involved a British Pakistani and a British Indian.

The term South Asian was given the tag "Br-Asian" around the turn of the millennium by media businessmen Moiz Vas and Nav Sagoo. Vas and Sagoo were responsible for the South Asian Music awards which aired on ITV1 in the UK. Sagoo conceived the Br-Asian stage at Glastonbury Festival in 2004 and 2005 which featured acts such as Rishi Rich, Jay Sean, Swami, Raghav and Pentagram.

In 2008, in the second season of reality television Britain's Got Talent, one of the country's most successful reality television shows, the South Asian dance duo Signature, consisting of Suleman Mirza (a British Pakistani) and Madhu Singh (a British Indian) performing a fusion of Michael Jackson and Bhangra music and dance styles, came second on the show. The most successful South Asian musician in 2008 was the British Tamil artist M.I.A., who was nominated for two Grammy Awards for her single "Paper Planes", and has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score for "O... Saya", from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack. The actor Dev Patel, who played the role of Anwar Kharral in the teen drama series Skins, also played the leading role in Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, for which he received several awards and was nominated for the 2009 BAFTA Award for Best Leading Actor.[44]

In 2009, Mumzy Stranger, an R&B and hip-hop music artist, became the first British Bangladeshi to release a music single, called "One More Dance".[45] In October 2009, Jay Sean's single "Down" reached the #1 on the Billboard Hot 100[46] and sold four million copies in the United States,[47][48] making him the first South Asian-origin solo artist and "the first UK Urban act to top Billboard‍ '​s Hot 100,"[49] "the most successful male UK urban artist in US chart history,"[50] and the most successful British male artist in the US charts since Elton John in 1997. A new generation of British Asian musicians have followed, such as Shizzio, 21 Perspective and Raxstar. In the early 2010s, Asian boy band members, Siva Kaneswaran of The Wanted and Zayn Malik of One Direction, have gained considerable mainstream popularity worldwide; The Wanted reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Glad You Came" while One Direction topped the Billboard 200 with Up All Night.

Humza Arshad and Ali Shahalom are well known British Asian Comedians for their YouTube careers which normally consists of stereotyping British Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslim Culture. In 2011, one of the Humza Arshad's video was the seventh most viewed on YouTube in Europe.[51][52]

Communities

The council area with the largest British Asian and British Muslim population is the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, whose population is 36.6% of South Asians and 39% of Muslims, mostly British Bangladeshis.

Counties with a high population of British Asians

London Boroughs with a high population of British Asians

Towns and Cities with particularly significant British Asian populations

  • Note: Some local authorities contain large areas of countryside surrounding the actual towns, e.g. Bedford, Bradford, Leeds, Newport, Sunderland and High Wycombe. This may lead to the South Asian and ethnic minority populations being underestimated in these places.

See also

Notes

References

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