Anglo-Indians – Who Are They?

Interact with the Anglo-Indian Project

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There are lots of competing definitions of what an Anglo-Indian is. The starting point is usually the legal definitions (see previous post addressing this). The official line seemingly that an Anglo-Indian is a person descended from a European male line whose family is permanently resident in India. But, human beings are more than a political-definition.

As the last post addressing this stated:

Searching for a definition of ‘Anglo-Indian’ presents many issues. A legal definition for one particular country gives us a baseline for understanding how Anglo-Indians are defined through the eyes of the state and prescribed in law, however, tells us very little about the perception of Anglo-Indians from the general public, their culture, tradition, socio-economic place, community and their identity.

AIP (2015) What is an Anglo-Indian?

Anglo-Indian ValuesOne starting point is to identify Anglo-Indian values. A question the AIP has previously posed to Anglo-Indians and those of Anglo-Indian descent. The responses to the question were varied – whilst not definitive – raised some common themes and interesting points.

Understanding context is critical. Anglo-Indians are predominantly descendants of the PortugueseBritish and Indians, but are now residing all over the world – England, Australia, Canada, USA and various other European locations. Many still have their values firmly rooted in ‘European values’, although each individual and community will inevitably have their own set of values, influenced by the context they live in, which may differ from those of Anglo-Indian communities in India.

It is problematic to define a person based on collective characteristics, aggregated demographics or imposing political definitions. A few commonly used characteristics which are used in relation to Anglo-Indians include (in no particular order): 

  • Generous
  • Gifting
  • Caring
  • Grit and Determination
  • Resilience
  • Loving
  • Family
  • Modesty 

Whilst this is not a exhaustive account, the welcoming spirit and resilience of the Anglo-Indian community is clear. Anglo-Indians have a long, rich history which accentuates the sadness that many people – especially in Britain – are unaware of the existence of the community today. Geoffrey Moorhouse described Anglo-Indians as ‘quite the saddest result of British imperialism.’ In 2017, the UK will mark cultural ties between the UK and India with the 2017 UK-India Year of Culture, presenting an ideal platform to raise awareness and celebrate the ‘forgotten’ Anglo-Indian community. 

The Anglo-Indian Project aims to highlight this spirit, keeping the fire burning and continuing to celebrate Anglo-Indians globally.

  • What does it mean to be Anglo-Indian?
  • How can we best raise awareness, celebrate and ‘keep the fire burning’ with the Anglo-Indian community?

All thoughts and comments welcome.

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Interact with the Anglo-Indian Project

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8 thoughts on “Anglo-Indians – Who Are They?

  1. Dan, a very interesting post. It is good to get deeper about a culture, especially looking at the value and system structure. Thanks for the post and providing more insight into the Anglo-Indian culture.

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