Young World

Asian expulsion

Sent away: Indians landing in the U.K. Photo: Special Arrangement  

On August 7, 1972, General Idi Amin, then military ruler of Uganda ordered the expulsion of Asians. While some say it was a dream Amin had in which God told him to order the expulsion, others also say that it was a master plan to plot vengeance against the British government for refusing to provide him with arms to invade Tanzania.


Amin seized power in a military coup in 1971. He accused the Indian and Pakistani communities of being “bloodsuckers” and milking the economy of its wealth. He gave them 90 days to leave the country. One of the reasons for the expulsion was the resentment of the black majority over the success of the Asians.

Most of them had been citizens of Uganda and the backbone of the country’s economy for almost two generations. They had significant influence over the economy. In fact, even though they constituted only one per cent of the population, they made up a fifth of the national income. They were also in charge for serving the elite healthcare and schooling services. The tariff system too had historically been oriented towards the economic interests of South Asian traders.

The Ugandan government claimed that the Indians were hoarding wealth and goods, sabotaging the Ugandan economy. Most Asians in Uganda were British Passport Holders and were expected to move to the UK.


General Amin summoned the British High Commissioner in Kampala to ask him to arrange for the removal of the Indians. The expulsion order took Britain by surpriseThe 1968 Committee on “Africanisation in Commerce and Industry” in Uganda made far-reaching Indophobic (anti-India sentiment) proposals. Work permits and trade licenses were introduced in 1969 to restrict the role of Indians in economic and professional activities. Of the 90,000, expelled around 50,000 went to U.K. and some to Canada. Few of them returned to India. However, they all arrived with no money as they were not compensated for their businesses. Even the wealthy citizens, who had a rather large stake in Uganda’s economy, had all of their assets confiscated, bank accounts closed and jewellery stolen. These companies were reallocated among government bodies and individuals.

Following the expulsion of Indians, India severed all diplomatic relations with Uganda. The Indian government warned Uganda of dire consequences, but took no action when Amin’s government ignored the ultimatum.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 1:38:25 PM |

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