Monday, April 10, 2017

The Anglo Indians (Paert 1)

 Anglo Indians (those with mixed Indian and British ancestry) are a distinct and unique community.They have British blood as well as Indian blood in them. The British were the rulers in India. Indians wanted to push the British out of India. The Anglo Indians had to decide on which side they were going to be.

Though the British never put Anglo Indians on par with themselves, they did put them a notch above the native Indians. And the British, always aware that the Indians resented them, trusted the Anglos more than the native Indians. All high posts in sensitive services were given to the Anglos. They dominated posts in the railways and police. The Anglos, as a community, naturally chose to align themselves with those in power. In most homes of Anglo Indians one saw framed pictures of the King, and later the Queen. No pictures of Gandhi or Nehru. And their attire, cuisine and life style were more British than Indian. Shirts and pants and suits, complete with ties and even bowties for men. Dainty dresses and frocks for the ladies. They read English novels, saw English movies, danced English dances to English music.

There were around 800,000 Anglo-Indians by 1947. They were certainly in a precarious situation. During the independence movement, many of them identified (or were assumed to identify) with British rule, and, therefore, incurred the distrust and hostility of Indian nationalists. They felt a loyalty to a British "home" that most had never seen and where they would gain little social acceptance. They felt insecure in an India that put a premium on participation in the independence movement as a prerequisite for important government positions. Many Anglo-Indians left the country in 1947, hoping to make a new life in the United Kingdom or elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Nations, such as Australia or Canada.

This series is intended to throw light on the lives of Anglo Indians, their thoughts, their struggles, in India prior to and after independence, as also in the countries to which they migrated from India after independence. 

In this first instalment an Anglo Indian speaks of her life in India prior India’s independence, her life in England after she migrated there and her life in India when she returned there after India’s independence

Anglo Indians of Bombay.
By Katherine Hebb

We are all from the forties and fifties. We were the lucky ones. After independence we were moving fast. We had all the latest films and records from America. Remember how we used to go into the cubicles in the record shops in Byculla. All got married young and planned to go abroad. The Indians were glad to get rid of us so they could put all the Indians In the jobs. It was not hard to get passports if you were an Angelo Indian. England had their doors open. They had lost a lot of their men in the war.

We all worked very hard and took advantage of the free education at that time and all our kids are doing fine. We were lucky. These days everyone has to pay for university. Anyway, India is now for the Indians. When i went back to stay in Goa I felt like a stranger in a country I was born in. What had happened was that Indians had children and they grew up not knowing people like us that had grown up in India. Luckily I spoke Hindi fluently so was accepted. I grew up in the jungles so mixed with the Indians. A white Anglo with an Indian brain.

You know what the Anglos were like. They never mixed too much with the locals not because of color but they were brought up with different views. Not now though. Things have changed again. The western ways have taken over. I guess that's how it goes.

Not all Anglo's were in the railways but we were all the same. We all went to the same clubs and gymkhana. We had the best bands and we ate the same food and all we did was talk about food. Socializing is what we enjoyed. Everyone knew everyone. Anglo Indian's still have reunions all over the world. We are very proud to have our British roots. It’s a shame the British don't know much about us

I was so hurt when we came to England in the sixties. We were called ‘coloreds’. I won't get into that. it's much better now. We've all integrated. Most of our kids went to university and are doing well. Lots of the Anglos have gone to Australia, America and Canada. Some couldn't hack the weather in England. Ah well, that's all I can say.Just my version.

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