What is an Ethnie? (2)
So I say that geography can define relationship of members within an ethnie, especially in determining members that are in the mainstream and members that are in the fringes.
The same applies to Indian ethnies in Malaysia. In the Indian sub-continent there is originally no such thing as an Indian. There are however separate ethnie groups. The term Indian only appears or widely used with the awakening of the spirit of nationalism. In pre-Independence Malaysia (or appropriately Malaya) the term Indian is used as convenience to classify those people who originally came from British India.
The Indian ethnies in Malaysia, due to the distance from their original homeland, may also be considered to be in the fringes. This can be seen from the way they speak their mother tongues, which can be different from the way they are spoken in India. Of course, for some smaller Indian ethnies, the third or fourth generation may not even be able to speak (or read) in their mother tongues. There are only Tamil schools in Malaysia. And that is only at the primary level.