The term British Indian (also Indian British or Indian Britons) refers to citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) whose ancestral roots lie in India. This includes people born in the UK who are of Indian descent, and Indian-born people who have migrated to the UK. Today, Indians comprise about 1.4 million people in the UK (not including those of mixed Indian and other ancestry), making them the single largest visible ethnic minority population in the country. They make up the largest subgroup of British Asians, and are one of the largest Indian communities in the Indian diaspora, mainly due to the Indian-British relations (including historical links such as India having been under British colonial rule and still being part of the Commonwealth of Nations). The British Indian community is the sixth largest in the Indian diaspora, behind the Indian communities in the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Nepal. The largest group of British Indians are those of Punjabi origin, accounting for an estimated 45 percent of the British Indian population (based on data for England and Wales), with smaller groups including Gujarati and Marathi communities.
United Kingdom 1,451,862 (2011)England 1,395,702 (2011)
Wales 17,256 (2011)
Scotland 32,706 (2011)
Northern Ireland 6,198 (2011)
2.3% of the UK's population (2011)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Related ethnic groups|
British Indians are socioeconomically affluent and are primarily members of the middle class, with official figures demonstrating that British Indians have the highest average pay levels among all ethnic groups in Britain.  A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2011 found British Indians have among the lowest poverty rates among all ethnic groups in Britain, second only to White British. Studies and official figures have shown that Indians are more likely to be employed in professional and managerial occupations, including financial services, than all other ethnic groups, including White British people.
People from India 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. Initially these were men from the Indo-Portuguese or Luso-Asian communities of the subcontinent, including men from Bombay, Goa, Cochin, Madras and the Hugli River in Bengal. Later Muslim Bengalis and men from Ratnagiri were hired. Many were then refused passage back and had no alternative than to settle 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 South Asia came to an end. British soldiers would also sometimes marry Indian women and send their mixed race children back to Britain, although the wife often did not accompany them. Indian wives of British soldiers would sometimes ask for passage home after being abandoned or widowed if they did accompany their children. In 1835, Bridget Peter a native of the Madras region lost her husband, a British soldier serving in His Majesty's 1st Foot Regiment. She petitioned the Directors from Chelsea Hospital 'in a state of destitution'. They paid to return her and her three children to India.
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 a small number of young Indians from the Malabar Coast were being recruited as house servants at the end of the 17th century, and records of the EIC also suggest that Indo-Portuguese cooks from Goa were retained by captains from voyage to voyage. In 1797, 13 were buried in the parish of St Nicholas at Deptford.
|2001 (census)||1,053,411 (1.79%)|
|2011 (census)||1,451,862 (2.30%)|
During the 19th century, the East India Company brought thousands of Indian lascars, scholars and workers (who were largely Bengali and/or Muslim) to Britain largely to work on ships and in ports. Some of whom settled down and took local British wives, partly due to a lack of Indian women in Britain and also abandonment due to restrictions on South Asian crew members being employed on British ships such as the Navigation Acts. It is estimated 8,000 Indians (a proportion being lascar sailors) lived in Britain permanently prior to the 1950s. Due to the majority of early Asian immigrants being lascar seamen, the earliest Indian 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 Hindoostanee Coffee House. He is also reputed for introducing shampoo and therapeutic massage to the United Kingdom. By the mid-19th century, there were more than 40,000 Indian seamen, diplomats, scholars, soldiers, officials, tourists, businessmen and students in Britain, the majority of them being seamen working on British ships, Lascars lodged in British ports in between voyages. Most Indians during this period would visit or reside in Britain temporarily, returning to India after months or several years, bringing back knowledge about Britain in the process.
In 1932, the Indian National Congress survey of 'all Indians outside India' estimated that there were 7,128 Indians in the United Kingdom. The resident Indian population of Birmingham was recorded at 100 by 1939. By 1945 it was 1,000.
Following the Second World War and the breakup of the British Empire, Indian migration to the UK increased through the 1950s and 1960s. This was partly due to the British Nationality Act 1948, which enabled migration from the Commonwealth with very few limits. In 1950 there were probably fewer than 20,000 non-white residents in Britain, almost all born overseas. 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 British Indian community has come from the births of second- and third-generation Indian Britons.
Although post-war immigration was continuous, several distinct phases can be identified:
- workers 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 and Gujarat regions arrived from India in the late 1950s and 1960s. Many worked in the foundries of the English Midlands. Large numbers of Gujaratis worked in the textile manufacturing sector in the northwest industrial towns of Blackburn, Dewsbury, Bolton, Lancaster, Manchester and Preston. Sikhs coming to London either migrated to the East to set up businesses where the wholesale, retail and manufacturing elements of the textile industry were located. Many Sikhs also moved to West London and took up employment at Heathrow airport and the associated industries and in the plants and factories of major brands such as Nestle around it.
- During the same time, medical staff from India 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.
- During the 1960s and 1970s, large numbers of East African Indians, predominantly Gujaratis but also sizeable numbers of Punjabis who already held British passports, entered the UK after they were expelled from Kenya, Uganda and Zanzibar. Many of these people had been store-keepers and wholesale retailers in Africa and opened shops when they arrived in the UK. In 2001 East African Indians made up 16% of the total British Indian population.
By the early 21st century, the British Indian community had grown to number over one million. According to the 2001 UK Census, 1,053,411 Britons had full Indian ethnicity (representing 1.8% of the UK's population). An overwhelming majority of 99.3% resided in England (in 2008 the figure is thought to be around 97.0%). In the nine-year period between 2001 and 2010, the number of Indian-born people in the UK has increased in size by 43% from 467,634 to around 669,000 (an increase of over 200,000).
|Region of birth||Percent of total|
|UK not specified||0.1%|
|Rest of Africa||3.3%|
|Rest of Asia||2.1%|
The United Kingdom Census 2011 recorded 1,451,862, residents of Indian ethnicity, accounting for 2.3 per cent of the total UK population (not including those of mixed ethnic backgrounds). The equivalent figure from the 2001 Census was 1,053,411 (1.8 per cent of the total UK population).
People born in India are the UK's largest foreign-born population, totalling an estimated 734,000 in 2013.
According to the 2011 census, the cities with the most Indian-born residents are London (262,247), Leicester (37,224), Birmingham (27,206), Sandwell (15,190), Wolverhampton (14,955).
Today there are considerable numbers of British Indians who have ancestry via the Caribbean, South and East Africa (including parts of the Ugandan British, Kenyan British and Tanzanian British communities) as well as the Pacific Islands.
In the 2001 UK Census, Indians in the UK were most likely to have responded to code 41 - Indian or Indian British. Indian was one of only five sub categories in the UK census which represents a nation (along with Irish, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Chinese).
India is a diverse nation composed of many ethnic groups. This is reflected in the British Indian community although there are several ethnic groups that number considerably more than others. Indian Punjabis account for about 45 per cent of Indians living in the UK, based on data for England and Wales. British Gujaratis are also another large subgroup of the British Indian population and they form the largest overseas Gujarati population on earth, being larger than the combined Gujarati communities of New York City and Toronto (which are second and third largest, respectively). Alongside Punjabis and Gujaratis, there are also significant numbers of Tamils. There is a large community of Goans in Swindon, with smaller communities in Hayes and Cranford. There has also been a recent immigration of Malayalees from South India who number approximately 100,000. There are significant numbers of British Indians originating from Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
||Harrow - 26.4%
Hounslow - 19.0%
Brent - 18.6%
Redbridge - 16.4%
Ealing - 14.3%
Newham - 13.8%
Hillingdon - 13.4%
||Wolverhampton - 12.9%
Sandwell - 10.2%
Coventry - 8.8%
Walsall - 6.1%
Birmingham - 6.0%
||Slough - 15.6%|
||Leicester - 18.7%
Oadby and Wigston - 10.7%
Blaby - 5.7%
Charnwood - 5.1%
Nottingham - 4.5%
Derby - 3.5%
Northampton - 3.5%
||Three Rivers - 6.0%
Watford - 5.5%
Bedford - 5.2%
Luton - 5.2%
||Blackburn - 12.1%
Preston - 10.3%
Bolton - 7.8%
Trafford - 2.8%
Manchester - 2.3%
|Yorkshire and the Humber||
||Kirklees - 4.9%
Bradford - 2.6%
Leeds - 2.1%
Sheffield - 1.1%
||Swindon - 3.3%
Gloucester - 2.6%
Bristol - 1.5%
||Newcastle Upon Tyne - 2.9%|
||Glasgow - 1.5%
Aberdeen - 1.5%
Edinburgh - 1.4%
||Cardiff - 2.3%|
||Belfast - 0.8%|
Indians number over half a million in London, which is the city's single largest non-white ethnic group. Indians have a significant impact on the culture of the British capital. Within London, Southall, Hounslow, Brent, Croydon, Redbridge, Ealing, Barnet, Tooting, Harrow and Wembley, the latter of which is one of the few places outside India where Indians make up the largest ethnic group (almost 4 times larger than the indigenous White British population). There are more Indians in the British capital than in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and Portugal combined. The Indian Overseas Congress UK is an organisation of the Indian diaspora in the UK, affiliated to the Indian National Congress (Congress (I)), and formed in 1969.
Leicester is set to soon become the UK's first ethnic minority-majority city and Indians make up by far the largest ethnic group besides the White British. At 18.7% of the local population in 2009, Leicester has one of the highest percentages of Indians per head of the population of any local authority in the UK. According to the 2001 UK Census, 14.74% of Leicester's population were Hindu and 4.21% Sikh. Gujarati is the primary language of 16% of the city’s residents, 3% Punjabi and 2% Urdu. Other smaller but common language groups include Hindi and Bengali.
There are Indian communities in the UK's overseas territories, such as the communities in Gibraltar, the Cayman Islands, Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Montserrat. The majority of the community in Gibraltar originated in Hyderabad, and came as merchants after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1870; many others migrated as workers after the closure of the frontier with Spain in 1969 to replace Spanish ones.
According to the 2011 Census, the religious breakdown of Indians in England and Wales can be seen in the table below. Although the plurality of British Indians are Hindu, the UK is home to the second largest Sikh community outside India.[not in citation given] Notable Hindu temples include BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir London (the largest Hindu temple outside India), Bhaktivedanta Manor, Shree Jalaram Prarthana Mandal, Skanda Vale, Sree Ganapathy Temple, Wimbledon and Tividale Tirupathy Balaji Temple. Notable Gurdwaras in the country include: Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick and Guru Nanak Nishkam Sevak Jatha. There are also significant numbers of Muslim and Christian British Indians as well as Ravidassia community with their main temple (Bhawan) in Handsworth, Birmingham. One of the largest Christian British Indian community is that of Catholic Goans, mainly from East Africa, but also directly from Goa, and from Aden, Pakistan and the countries of the Persian Gulf. The UK is also home to one of the largest Ravidassia communities outside India; this was first recognised by 2011 Census.
Sikhs are also supporting separate Sikh monitoring in the 2011 census, Virendra Sharma MP met with representatives from the Sikh community to lobby parliament in November 2009 stating "It is vital that the Office for National Statistics recognise the importance of the Sikh community and provide this monitoring at the next Census".
|Religion||Percentage of Indian population in England and Wales|
Today the British Indian community is extremely well established and it even has its own diaspora, many Indian British people now live abroad including in Canada (some 11,200), the United States (around 17,000) and Oceania (largely Anglo-Indians) amongst others.
Indian cuisine is extremely popular in the United Kingdom. The hybrid dish "Chicken tikka masala" always comes out on top as the UK's favourite meal The dish likely originated from the British Punjabi community which runs most Indian restaurants in the UK. There are around 9,000 Indian restaurants located across the UK, which equates to approximately one per 7,000 people. The popularity of the Indian curry in the UK was mainly made by South Indians, Bangladeshi, and Punjabi restaurateurs, where 85 percent of Indian restaurants in the UK are in fact owned by Bangladeshi Sylheti Bengalis. Over 2 million Britons eat at Indian restaurants in the UK every week, with a further 3 million cooking at least one Indian based meal at home during the week. Veeraswamy, located on Regent Street in London, is the oldest surviving Indian restaurant in the UK, having opened in 1926.
Film and TelevisionEdit
The British Indian film industry is a successful enterprise, and over recent years,[when?] many British Indian actors have risen to prominence globally, particularly in Britain, India, and the US. Notable films include Bend It Like Beckham, whose story revolves around British Indian life, and Slumdog Millionaire, a British drama film set in Mumbai starring British Indian actor Dev Patel in the lead role. The latter has won four Golden Globes, seven BAFTA Awards and eight Academy Awards. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a British film set in India, was nominated for two Golden Globes and one BAFTA, grossing US$31 million at the end of the UK run. Besides British-produced Indian-based films, there are many Bollywood productions which have been filmed in the UK, including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Yaadein, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Jab Tak Hai Jaan. The following is a partial list of films and TV serials based on British Indian or British Asian life, British films shot in India or with an Indian theme or has British Indian actors:
- Autobiography of a Princess (1975)
- Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures (1978)
- Gandhi (1982) - With British Indian actor Ben Kingsley as Gandhi
- A Passage to India (1984) - Film set during the early 20th century India
- The Jewel in the Crown (1984) - TV series set during the 1940s British Raj era
- My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) - A defining film of the Thatcher era with British asian protagonists.
- Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987)
- Bhaji on the Beach (1993) - A film by Gurinder Chadha depicts life of a group of West London Asian women.
- The Buddha of Suburbia (1993)
- Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996)
- My Son the Fanatic (1997)
- Such a Long Journey (1998)
- Bend It Like Beckham (2002) - A film by Gurinder Chadha depicts life of a London Sikh family.
- The Guru (2002)
- Bride and Prejudice (2004) - A Gurinder Chadha take on Jane Austen's Pride and prejudice with an International setting of locations and cast.
- Namastey London (2007)
- Before the Rains (2008)
- Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - Film set in Mumbai with Londoner Dev Patel in the title role.
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012) -Film set in Rajasthan with Londoner Dev Patel in an important role.
Indian influence on British popular music dates back to the development of raga rock by British rock bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones; several Beatles songs (such as "Within You Without You") also featured London-based Indian musicians. Today, British Indian musicians exist in almost every field and genre. However, there is an extremely large number of Bhangra artists that cement the UK as the stronghold of traditional Indian music outside India, although this is a Punjabi music mainly performed by the Sikh community. Notable British Indian Bhangra acts include Panjabi MC, Rishi Rich, Juggy D, Jay Sean, DCS, and Sukshinder Shinda. World-famous award-winning singer-songwriter Freddie Mercury (a former member of the rock band Queen) was born on the island of Zanzibar to Parsi parents, originally from the Gujarat area of India. Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara) and his family fled when he was 17 years old due to the Zanzibar Revolution; he remains not only one of the most famous British Indian musicians of all time, but one of the most famous British musicians. Other world-famous British Indian musicians include Biddu, who produced a number of worldwide disco hits such as "Kung Fu Fighting", one of the best-selling singles of all time having sold eleven million records worldwide, and Apache Indian, who also had worldwide hits such as "Boom Shack-A-Lak". Jay Sean, whose parents immigrated to the United Kingdom from the Punjab region, is the first solo British Asian artist to reach the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with his single "Down" selling more than four million copies in the United States, making him "the most successful male UK urban artist in US chart history." Other contemporary British Indian singers include S-Endz and BRIT Award-nominated Nerina Pallot.
Long-running British soap operas such as Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks have all had significant numbers of Indian characters, while shorter British series such as The Jewel in the Crown and Skins also feature British Indian characters. By far the most notable British Indian television shows are Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No. 42, a talk show that stars many famous British Indian actors including Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, Indira Joshi and Vincent Ebrahim. British Indian actors not only have a strong presence in the UK, but also in the United States, where Parminder Nagra, Naveen Andrews and Kunal Nayyar (who are all Britons of Indian origin) have found fame in ER, Lost, The Big Bang Theory and Desperate Housewives respectively, though Nagra is the only one to portray an actual British citizen of Indian descent. There are dozens of channels aimed at the British Indian community available on Satellite and Cable, which include:
|Indian owned||Sky channel||Virgin Media channel||Other|
|Sony TV Asia||782||806||N/A|
|Zee TV||788||809||Channel 808 (Tiscali TV)|
|Alpha ETC Punjabi||798||812||N/A|
|Joint owned||Sky channel||Virgin Media channel||Other|
|B4U Music||781||816||Channel 504 (Freesat)|
|9X||828||N/A||Channel 662 (Freesat)|
|British owned||Sky channel||Virgin Media channel||Other|
The BBC Asian Network is a radio station available across the United Kingdom which is aimed predominantly at Britons of South Asian origin under 35 years of age. Besides this popular station there are only a few other national radio stations for or run by the British Indian community — including Sunrise and Yarr Radios. Regional British Indian stations include Asian Sound of Manchester, Hindu Sanskar and Sabras Radios of Leicester, Kismat Radio of London, Radio XL of Birmingham and Sunrise Radio Yorkshire based in Bradford (which itself has a much larger Pakistani than Indian community).
British Indians have historically tended to vote for the Labour Party, due to strong links with local party branches and a degree of community voting, but it has been argued that the assimilation of younger British Indians and the consequent weakening of community bonds and parental political ties, this relationship has started to break down. The Conservative Party's modernisation and efforts to attract British Indian voters have also contributed to changing political affiliations. The Ethnic Minority British Election Study estimated that 61 per cent of British Indians voted Labour in the 2010 general election, 24 per cent Conservative and 13 per cent Liberal Democrat. Academic research in the build-up to the 2015 general election indicated that 69 per cent of British Indians supported Labour and 24 per cent the Conservatives. 60 per cent of British Pakistanis and 85 per cent of British Bangladeshis supported Labour. In 2015, the safest Conservative Party seat in the UK was given to a British Indian. A post-election survey by British Future found that, in 2015, 49 per cent of British Hindus and Sikhs voted Conservative and 41 per cent Labour. By contrast, a report by the think tank Theos after the 2010 general election found that Labour had a 13 percentage point lead over the Conservatives amongst Hindus and 48.5 percentage points amongst Sikhs.
A number of British Hindus and Sikhs still adhere to the caste system and still seek marriage with individuals who are of similar caste categories. There have been several incidents involving abuse of low caste British Hindus, known as Dalits, by higher caste individuals in schools and workplaces. However, other Hindus say that caste discrimination is a thing of the past in Britain, and that the Asian community has moved on.
According to a study published by Oxford University 1500 girls are missing from birth records in England and Wales over a 15-year period from 1990 to 2005. The vast majority of the abortions are carried out in India reports suggest that abortions rejected on the NHS would force some British Indians to travel to India for the procedure. There have also been cases where British Indian doctors who would pass on details to their patients about clinics abroad which offer sex selective screening and abortion for women who have passed the 24-week abortion limit in the United Kingdom.
Discrimination against people of Indian origin in the United Kingdom is not completely widespread, but has been known to happen in certain instances.
Verbal discrimination has become somewhat more common after the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks, even though extremists who committed these atrocities have little to nothing to do with the British Indian community. A notable example of anti-Indian sentiment in the UK is the 2007 Celebrity Big Brother racism controversy which received significant media coverage. White contestants Jade Goody (who is mixed race), Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara were all seen to have been mocking Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty because of her accent. They also persisted in making fun of general parts of Indian culture. Channel 4 screened the arguments between the contestants, which received over 50,000 complaints. The controversy generated over 300 newspaper articles in Britain, 1,200 in English language newspapers around the globe, 3,900 foreign language news articles, and 22,000 blog postings on the internet.
Another example of discrimination is the Expulsion of Asians in Uganda in 1972 (a decision made by the President of Uganda to ethnically cleanse the country) which led to tens of thousands of East African Indians coming to the UK to start a new life, the majority of these already had British passports, due to Uganda at that time being part of the British Empire.
Other examples of discrimination towards British Indians in the mainstream population include the case of 27-year-old Chetankumar Meshram, a call centre trainer from Northampton who was compensated £5,000 after his boss told him he was to be replaced by a better English speaker. Also Meena Sagoo, 42 is demanding over £100,000 after she and a fellow employee of the ING Bank of Sri Lankan heritage were called The Kumars at No. 42 (after the popular TV comedy show of the same name). The same bank has been noted to have paid out £20,000 to a worker of Chinese origin who also claimed racial harassment.
Another form of discrimination towards British Indians is stereotyping, one example is British Asians stereotyped as being the majority of newsagent and convenience store shopkeepers, the stereotype "Paki shop"; and also making up a majority of doctors. This stereotype was made fun of in the television and radio sketches of Goodness Gracious Me by four British Indian comedy actors. In the comedy sketch Little Britain, a British Indian character called Meera continuously receives racist comments from weight loss advisor Marjorie Dawes who always makes it known that she does not understand a word of what Meera says, although it is completely obvious to the surrounding people and the viewer.
A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2007 found that British Indians have among the lowest poverty rates among different ethnic groups in Britain, second only to white British. Of the different ethnic groups, Bangladeshis (65%), Pakistanis (55%) and black Africans (45%) had the highest poverty rates; black Caribbeans (30%), Indians (25%), white Other (25%) and white British (20%) had the lowest rates.
According to official UK Government figures from 2016, British Indians had the highest employment rate of all ethnic minorities at 73%; the overall employment rate in the UK is 74%, with the employment rate for White British people standing at 75%. The unemployment rate of British Indians was 5% in 2016, the lowest of all ethnic minorities. The overall unemployment rate in the UK in 2016 was 5%, with the unemployment rate for White British people standing at 4%.
The National Equality Panel report in 2012 found that British Indian households are second wealthiest among major British ethnic groups. Their total median wealth is about £204,000 coming close second to white British:
|Ethnic group||Median total wealth|
Among the working-age population, with pensions thus excluded, British Indians have the highest median total wealth at £178,980:
|Ethnic group||Median total wealth (excluding pensions)|
|Other minority ethnic groups||£41,500|
According to official figures, British Indians have the highest average pay levels in the UK among all ethnic groups:
|Ethnic group||Average hourly pay (Oct-Dec 2016)|
UK Government figures also demonstrate that British Indians have the highest proportion of workers in professional and managerial occupations, out of all ethnic groups in the UK:
|Ethnic group||Percentage of workers in professional and managerial occupations|
According to official UK Government statistics, British Indian pupils have a high average level of academic performance. 77% of British Indian pupils attained A* to C grades in English and Maths in the 2015-16 academic year, second only to Chinese pupils, of whom 83% attained A* to C grades in English and Maths.
At A-Level, in the 2015-16 academic year, 14% of British Indian pupils achieved at least 3 'A' grades at A-Level, with only White Irish (15%) and Chinese (24%) achieving the same benchmark at higher rates.
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