“I came to the UK just 6 months after Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech. He said that coloured immigration was causing huge problems and that it would destroy the country. A constituent had told Powell, ‘In this country in 15 or 20 years' time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.’ Immigration then meant ‘coloured immigration’, from the subcontinent and the West Indies and many people were convinced it was fundamentally changing this country for the worse. Unlike the debate about immigration taking place now, then those against immigration made it very clear their objection to the newcomers was due to race.
I wanted to become a journalist. Firstly, I started as a financial journalist. Also, I was football and cricket reporter for the Sunday Times on the weekends. I wrote about business in various business magazines and edited some of them. Then I became a full time sports journalist. Sports was fast becoming a business with a lot of money coming in and I started reporting on the business and politics of sport. I’ve written 28 books, the first book was about cricket. I was also the first BBC sports editor. Occasionally after football matches I was physically threatened and once I thought my life was in danger.
When I first became a sports journalist in 1974, people found my name difficult and I was often called Richard. I would have liked to have kept my Indian citizenship if it was possible. I feel Indian but I feel British, too. This is a duality. UK is my main home, India is my former home.
India has surprised the world but is still not totally confident of exploiting its unexpected success. And the UK has done brilliantly to transform itself from a huge empire to once again becoming a small island but which still carries a lot of weight. I think this country hasn’t given itself enough credit for this remarkable feat, almost unmatched in world history. What saddens me is that all the talk about immigration in this country is only about economics. A lot of people come to this country for economic reasons. I didn’t come here to make money. I followed my dreams to become a journalist. I wanted to be a writer in London and I succeeded. I have won some prizes and I’ve just been given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Asian Cricket Awards."