Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Anglo Indian

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United Kingdom




United States

Est. 300,000 – 1,000,000

The term Anglo-Indians can refer to at least two groups of people: those with mixed Indian and British ancestry, and people of British descent born or living in the Indian subcontinent. The latter sense is now mainly historical, but confusions can arise. The Oxford Dictionary, for example, gives three possibilities: "Of mixed British and Indian parentage, of Indian descent but born or living in Britain, or (chiefly historical) of British descent or birth but living or having lived long in India". People fitting the middle definition are more usually known as British Asian or British Indian. This article focuses primarily on the modern definition, a distinct minority community of mixed Eurasian ancestry, whose native language is English.


During the centuries that Britain was in India, the children born to British men and Indian women began to form a new community. (This process was replicated in many other meetings of European traders and colonisers across the subcontinent, including in Burma - Anglo-Burmese people - and Sri Lanka - Burgher people.) These Anglo-Indians formed a small but significant portion of the population during the British Raj, and were well represented in certain administrative roles. The Anglo-Indian population dwindled from roughly 800,000 at the time of independence in 1947 to fewer than 350,000 by 2010. Many have adapted to local communities and emigrated to the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the United States and New Zealand.


The first use of "Anglo-Indian" was to describe all British people living in India. People of mixed British and Indian descent were referred to as "Eurasians". Terminology has changed, and the latter group are now called "Anglo-Indians", the term that will be used throughout this article.


During the British East India Company's rule in India in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it was fairly common for British officers and soldiers to take local wives and have Eurasian children, due to a lack of British women in India. By the mid-19th century, there were around 40,000 British soldiers, but fewer than 2,000 British officials present in India.


Originally, under Regulation VIII of 1813, they were excluded from the British legal system and in Bengal became subject to the rule of Islamic law outside Calcutta – and yet found themselves without any caste or status amongst those who were to judge them. In 1821, a pamphlet entitled "Thoughts on how to better the condition of Indo-Britons" by a "Practical Reformer," was written to promote the removal of prejudices existing in the minds of young Eurasians against engaging in trades. This was followed up by another pamphlet, entitled "An Appeal on behalf of Indo-Britons." Prominent Eurasians in Calcutta formed the "East Indian Committee" with a view to send a petition to the British Parliament for the redress of their grievances. John William Ricketts, a pioneer in the Eurasian cause, volunteered to proceed to England. His mission was successful, and on his return to India, by way of Madras, he received quite an ovation from his countrymen in that presidency; and was afterwards warmly welcomed in Calcutta, where a report of his mission was read at a public meeting held in the Calcutta Town Hall. In April 1834, in obedience to an Act of Parliament passed in August 1833, the Indian Government was forced to grant government jobs to Anglo-Indians.

As British women began arriving in India in large numbers around the early to mid-19th century, mostly as family members of officers and soldiers, British men became less likely to marry Indian women. Intermarriage declined after the events of the Rebellion of 1857, after which several anti-miscegenation laws were implemented. As a result, Eurasians were neglected by both the British and Indian populations in India.


Over generations, Anglo-Indians intermarried with other Anglo-Indians to form a community that developed a culture of its own. Their cuisine, dress, speech (use of English as their mother tongue), and religion (Christianity) all served to further segregate them from the native population. A number of factors fostered a strong sense of community among Anglo-Indians. Their English language school system, their Anglo-centric culture, and their Christian beliefs in particular helped bind them together.

They formed social clubs and associations to run functions, including regular dances on occasions such as Christmas and Easter. Indeed, their Christmas balls, held in most major cities, still form a distinctive part of Indian Christian culture.

Over time Anglo-Indians were specifically recruited into the Customs and Excise, Post and Telegraphs, Forestry Department, the railways and teaching professions – but they were employed in many other fields as well.

The Anglo-Indian community also had a role as go-betweens in the introduction of Western musical styles, harmonies and instruments in post-Independence India. During the colonial era, genres including ragtime and jazz were played by bands for the social elites, and these bands often contained Anglo-Indian members.

Independence and choices

During the independence movement, many Anglo-Indians identified (or were assumed to identify) with British rule, and, therefore, incurred the distrust and hostility of Indian nationalists. Their position at independence was difficult. They felt a loyalty to a British "home" that most had never seen and where they would gain little social acceptance. (Bhowani Junction touches on the identity crisis faced by the Anglo-Indian community during the independence struggle.) 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. The exodus continued through the 1950s and 1960s and by the late 1990s most had left with many of the remaining Anglo-Indians still aspiring to leave.

Like the Parsi community, the Anglo-Indians are essentially urban dwellers. Unlike the Parsis, the mass migrations saw more of the better educated and financially secure Anglo-Indians depart for other Commonwealth nations.

21st century cultural resurgence

There has been a resurgence in celebrating Anglo-Indian culture in the twenty-first century, in the form of International Anglo-Indian Reunions and in publishing books. There have been nine reunions, with the latest being held in 2015 in Calcutta.

Several narratives and novels have been published recently. The Leopard's Call: An Anglo-Indian Love Story (2005) by Reginald Shires, tells of the life of two teachers at the small Bengali town of Falakata, down from Bhutan; At the Age for Love: A Novel of Bangalore during World War II (2006) is by the same author. In the Shadow of Crows (2009) by David Charles Manners, is the critically acclaimed true account of a young Englishman's unexpected discovery of his Anglo-Indian relations in the Darjeeling district. The Hammarskjold Killing (2007) by William Higham, is a novel in which a London-born Anglo-Indian heroine is caught up in a terrorist crisis in Sri Lanka. Where The Bulbul Sings (2011) by Serena Fairfax features a young Anglo-Indian woman who seeks to deny her heritage and bury her past.

Present communities

India constitutionally guarantees of the rights of communities and religious and linguistic minorities, and thus permits Anglo-Indians to maintain their own schools and to use English as the medium of instruction. In order to encourage the integration of the community into the larger society, the government stipulates that a certain percentage of the student body come from other Indian communities.

In a 2013 BBC news feature on Anglo-Indians, journalist Kris Griffiths wrote: "It has been noted in recent years that the number of Anglo-Indians who have succeeded in certain fields is remarkably disproportionate to the community's size. For example, in the music industry there are Engelbert Humperdinck (born Madras), Peter Sarstedt (Delhi) and Cliff Richard (Lucknow). The looser definition of Anglo-Indian (any mixed British-Indian parentage) encompasses the likes of cricketer Nasser Hussain, footballer Michael Chopra and actor Ben Kingsley."

Anglo-Indians distinguished themselves in the military. Air Vice-Marshal Maurice Barker was India's first Anglo-Indian Air Marshal. At least seven other Anglo-Indians subsequently reached that post, a notable achievement for a small community. A number of others have been decorated for military achievements. Air Marshal Malcolm Wollen is often considered the man who won India's 1971 war fighting alongside Bangladesh. Anglo-Indians made similarly significant contributions to the Indian Navy and Army.

Another field in which Anglo-Indians won distinction was education. The second most respected matriculation qualification in India, the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education, was started and built by some of the community's best known educationalists, including Frank Anthony, who served as its president, and A.E.T. Barrow, its secretary for the better part of half a century. Most Anglo-Indians, even those without much formal education, find that gaining employment in schools is fairly easy because of their fluency in English.

In sporting circles Anglo-Indians have made a significant contribution, particularly at Olympic level where Norman Pritchard became India's first ever Olympic medallist, winning two silver medals at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, France. In cricket Roger Binny was the leading wicket-taker during the Indian cricket team's 1983 World Cup triumph. Wilson Jones was India's first ever World Professional Billiards Champion.

Several charities have been set up abroad to help the less fortunate in the community in India. Foremost among these is CTR (Calcutta Tiljallah Relief – based in the US), which has instituted a senior pension scheme, and provides monthly pensions to over 300 seniors. CTR also provides education to over 200 needy children.

Today, there are estimated to be 80,000–125,000 Anglo-Indians living in India, most of whom are based in the cities of Trivandrum, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Mangalore, Mysore, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Mumbai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Pothanur and Tiruchirapalli. Anglo-Indians also live in the towns of Varkala, Nagercoil, Allepey (Alappuzha), Kochi (Cochin), Kollam (Quilon/Coulão), Kozhikode (Calicut), Cannanore (Kannur) in the South Indian state of Kerala also at Goa, Pune, Secunderabad, Visakhapatnam, Lucknow, Agra, and in some towns of Bihar, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Also a significant number of this population resides in Odisha's Khurda Road, which is a busy railway junction. However, the Anglo Indian population has dwindled over the years with most people migrating abroad or to other parts of the country. Tangasseri in Kollam city is the only place in Kerala State where Anglo-Indian tradition is maintained. But almost all the colonial constructions got erased except the Tangasseri Lighthouse built by the British in 1902.

Most of the Anglo-Indians overseas are concentrated in Britain, Australia, Canada, United States, and New Zealand. Of the estimated million or so (including descendants), who have emigrated from India, some have settled in European countries like Switzerland, Germany, and France. According to the Anglo-Indians who have settled in Australia, integration for the most part has not been difficult. The community in Myanmar frequently intermarried with the local Anglo-Burmese community but both communities suffered from adverse discrimination since Burma's military took over the government in the 1962, with most having now left the country to settle overseas.

Political status

Article 366(2) of the Indian Constitution defines Anglo-Indian as:

(2) an Anglo Indian means a person whose father or any of whose other male progenitors in the male line is or was of European descent but who is domiciled within the territory of India and is or was born within such territory of parents habitually resident therein and not established there for temporary purposes only;

Anglo-Indians are the only community that has its own representatives nominated to the Lok Sabha (Lower House) in India's Parliament. This right was secured from Jawaharlal Nehru by Frank Anthony, the first and longtime president of the All India Anglo-Indian Association. The community is represented by two members. This is done because the community has no native state of its own. States like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, West Bengal, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Kerala also have a nominated member each in their respective State Legislatures.

Other populations

Anglo-Indian often only represents Indians mixed with British ancestry during the British Raj. There are many mixed Indians from other European countries during the colonial era. For example, the definition rarely embraces the descendants of the Indians from the old Portuguese colonies of both the Coromandel and Malabar Coasts, who joined the East India Company as mercenaries and brought their families with them. The definition has many extensions, for example, Luso-Indian (mixed Portuguese and Indian) of Goa, people of Indo-French descent, and Indo-Dutch descent. Indians have encountered Europeans since their earliest civilization. They have been a continuous element in the sub-continent. Their presence is not to be considered Anglo-Indian. Similarly, Indians who mixed with Europeans after the British Raj are also not be considered Anglo-Indian.

Britons in colonial India

Historically, the term Anglo-Indian was also used in common parlance in Britain during the colonial era to refer to those people (such as Rudyard Kipling, or the hunter-naturalist Jim Corbett), who were of British descent but were born and raised in India, usually because their parents were serving in the colonial administration or armed forces; "Anglo-Indian", in this sense, was synonymous with "non-domiciled British".

Anglo-Indian population in Britain

Since the mid-nineteenth century, there has been a population of people of Indian (like Lascars) or mixed British-Indian ethnic origin living in Britain, both through intermarriage between white Britons and Indians, and through the migration of Anglo-Indians from India to Britain.

Indian-British interracial marriage began in Britain from the 17th century, when the British East India Company began bringing over thousands of Lascar seamen to Britain, where they married local British females, due to a lack of Indian females in Britain at the time. As there were no legal restrictions against mixed marriages in Britain, families with Indian Lascar fathers and English mothers established interracial communities in Britain's dock areas. This led to a growing number of "mixed race" children being born in the country; the number of ethnic minority females in Britain were often outnumbered by "half-caste Indian" daughters born from British mothers and Indian fathers. By the time World War I began, there were 51,616 Lascar seamen working in Britain.

Though sometimes referred to as Anglo-Indians, people of Indian or mixed British-Indian ethnicity residing in Britain generally prefer the terms White British, British Indian and mixed White-Asian instead. The first and last categorisations are also used by the UK census.


There is a significant population of Anglo-Indians in Bangladesh of almost 200,000. The presence of Anglo-Indians in Bangladesh is since the British period. But their population had decreased to 4,000 in 1947 during the Partition of India from the present region of Bangladesh. Most of them had migrated to United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. And during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, almost 1,500 Anglo-Indians lost their lives during fighting in the war. But in 1970, one year before the war almost 9,000 Anglo-Indians had came from India. Then after the independence of Bangladesh, during 1974–1976 almost 28,000 Anglo-Indians had arrived in Bangladesh from India to settle down. After that in 1980 there were reported birth of 37,500 Anglo-Indian children in Bangladesh. And in 1993 there were almost 103,713 Anglo-Indians living here. Then finally it rose up to 200,000 in 2016.

Bangladesh constitutionally provides rights and freedom to the Anglo-Indians to perform their culture, customs, traditions and religions freely. They are allowed to maintain their own colonies even. They mainly live in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet. So, there are Anglo-Indian shops, saloons, parlours and schools in this cities, especially in the colonies where they live. In Dhaka, specifically in Banani there have been many Anglo-Indian colonies where there is a residence of estimated 45,000–59,000 Anglo-Indians.

Anglo-Indians of European descent (original definition)

  • Pete Best, original drummer for the Beatles.
  • Ruskin Bond, writer
  • Augustus De Morgan, mathematician
  • Ray Dorset, musician/songwriter with the band Mungo Jerry
  • Lawrence Durrell, novelist, poet, dramatist, travel writer and diplomat.
  • Gerald Durrell, writer, naturalist, conservationist and television presenter
  • Rudyard Kipling, British writer. The first English-language writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • Anna Leonowens (1834–1915), British governess to the Siamese court on whose life story The King and I was based. It is also speculated that Anna had Indian ancestry.
  • Joanna Lumley, British actress.
  • George Orwell, British author of 1984 and Animal Farm.
  • Cliff Richard, pop singer
  • Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts – British soldier.
  • Jesy Nelson, singer
  • William Makepeace Thackeray, British novelist. Most famous for Vanity Fair.
  • Books

  • Anthony F "Britain's Betrayal in India: The Story Of The Anglo Indian Community" Simon Wallenberg Press, Amazon Books.
  • Chapman, Pat "Taste of the Raj, Hodder & Stoughton, London – ISBN 0-340-68035-0 (1997)
  • Bridget White-Kumar "The best of Anglo-Indian Cuisine – A Legacy", "Flavours of the Past", "Anglo-Indian Delicacies", "The Anglo-Indian festive Hamper", "A Collection of Anglo-Indian Roasts, Casseroles and Bakes"
  • Dady D S "Scattered Seeds: The Diaspora of the Anglo-Indians" Pagoda Press
  • Dyer, Sylvia "The Spell of the Flying Foxes" ISBN 0143065343, Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Gabb A "1600–1947 Anglo-Indian Legacy"
  • Hawes, Christopher J. (2013). Poor Relations: The Making of a Eurasian Community in British India, 1773–1833. London: Routledge. 
  • Moore G J "The Anglo Indian Vision"
  • Stark H A "Hostages To India: Or The Life Story of the Anglo Indian Race" Simon Wallenberg Press.
  • Maher, Reginald "These Are The Anglo-Indians" – (An Anglo-Indian Heritage Book) Simon Wallenberg Press
  • Phillips Z "The Anglo-Indian Australian Story: My Experience. A collection of Anglo-Indian Migration Heritage Stories"
  • Thorpe, O "Paper Boats in the Monsoon: Life in the Lost World of Anglo-India" Trafford Publishing
  • Thomas, Noel "Footprints On The Track"
  • Williams, Blair "Anglo-Indians. Vanishing remnants of a bygone era" CTR books
  • Deefholts, Margaret "Haunting India. Fiction, poems, travel tales and memoirs" CTR books
  • Deefholts and Staub "Voices on the Verandah. An anthology of Anglo-Indian poetry and prose" CTR books
  • Deefholts, Margaret and Deefholts, Glen "The Way We Were. Anglo-Indian chronicles" CTR books
  • Lumb, Lionel and Veldhuizen, Deb "The Way We Are" An Anglo-Indian Mossaic" CTR books
  • Deefholts, Margaret and Deefholts, Susan "Woman of Anglo-India. Tales and Memoirs" CTR books
  • Lionel Lumb "More Voices on the Verandah. An Anglo-Indian Anthology" CTR books
  • Mary Esther Lyons " Unwanted. Memoirs of and Anglo-Indian daughter" Spectrum Publications
  • References

    Anglo-Indian Wikipedia

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