When we lived in England in the 80s, Britain had problems with racial harmony but it was not obvious. Tensions existed but they remained below the surface; daily life went on without social eruptions. There were racial prejudices but the social form was maintained at a civilised level. Discussion on issues of discriminations was open; racial prejudice seemed an academic issue. Incidents of violence were universally condemned. From time to time, the police was accused of targeting the Asian youth and going soft on the "skin heads" and the national front. But life went on. And London remained a great place, by and large a tolerant multiracial city. You had living in this city Asians, Africans and Latin Americans. A city, that is, which contained and officially supported different languages and cultures to the best of their management capacity. But all that seems a thing of the past. Visitors from the third world these days, especially, from Pakistan, know the cold treatment given to them at the Heathrow. Regardless of sex they are singled out at the slightest pretext. A wrongly filled landing card, a question asked in accented English not immediately understood; any excuse is good enough for harassment of the unfortunate green passport holder. Gong to restaurants, theatres and department stores of the West End, there is a noticeable change of attitude. There may be no blatant rudeness in shops and cafes but as a coloured person you are made to feel different. The sales persons in upper crust stores seem reluctant to serve you, giving you the minimum time necessary, the face straight, no trace of a smile. A white cabbie may not stop when you hail a taxi. And when he does, you are made to feel he is doing you a favour you may not deserve. I thought this sort of treatment was reserved for Pakistanis, but towards the Indians it was a degree less discriminatory. The Indian image in the west is comparatively less trashed than that of Pakistan. Their economic growth and IT capability has helped to create that impression. Shining India became an international slogan in the time of the previous BJP government although it could not help them win the next election. A mature democracy, the Indians rejected the airy-fairy economics of growth and rather voted for the pro-poor policies of the Congress whom they voted in. As a reconfirmation of the Congress policies, they voted for them again in the elections held this year. But since the 80s in England, I believed the Indians had less reason to complain. That might still be the case, but at least one Indian taxi driver in London does not think so. Last week I hired a radio taxi to get to Charing Cross station from Kentish Town. The driver, about 55 years of age, who took me to Chairing Cross was an Indian Muslim from Mumbai and had come to Britain 35 years ago in 1974. According to him, Britain was not the country he came to. He came to a country which had the rule of law and equality before the law. But not anymore. He and his family were now facing serious issues of racism. He sounded nostalgic of the good days he had seen in Britain and regretted the changed attitude of the police towards Asians, especially Muslims, since 9/11 and 7/7. As we drove through central London he said they had dug up the whole place and raised the congestion charge. The driver bemoaned the dismal state of the National Health Service (NHS) and regretted the corruption in the social security system. But above all, he regretted the racial discrimination that was sweeping society. Britain had become a "dangerous" country for the Asians, he thought. Dropping me outside Charing Cross station, helping me with my bags, he said his children were building their own lives in this country but it "was time for him to go back." The writer is a former ambassador at large