Day 1: Who are the Anglo-Indians?

This post is part of the Anglo-Indian Project Holiday Season series 2017

There are lots of competing definitions of what an Anglo-Indian is. The starting point is usually the legal definitions and the official line evidently 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.

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?

It’s problematic to define a person based on collective characteristics, aggregated demographics or political definitions; considering the context is critical. Some characteristics used in relation to Anglo-Indians include: 

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

Whilst not an exhaustive account, the welcoming spirit and resilience of Anglo-Indian’s is clear. Some have described Anglo-Indians as ‘quite the saddest result of British imperialism’. Others have suggested that the community is dying out

Dr Richard Johnson offers some insightful thoughts on the Anglo-Indian community, including its lack of critical appraisal, and some strengths for the future of the Anglo-Indian community. 


The Anglo-Indian Project aims to keep the fire burning and celebrate Anglo-Indians globally.

See also:


Coming Soon: In Search of Ancestors in British India: Where to Start – Sign up here

If you are interested in being involved, finding out more, or just curious, we welcome your communication using our Get in Touch page or join our mailing list here.

Cover photo by Biel Morro on Unsplash



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