Glossary of Anglo-Indian Colloquial Words and Phrases


Anglo-Indians are people who have mixed Indian and British ancestry and the term is sometimes used in the West.

In general sense, they refer to any tangible or intangible entity with both the British and Indian origin or heritage.

The term, however, was also used in common parlance in Britain during the colonial era to refer to those people (such as the hunter-naturalist Jim Corbett) who were of strictly 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 "domiciled British."

Finally, the term should not be confused with the similar-sounding "Indo-Anglian," an adjective applied to literature in English produced by Indian authors..

The Anglo-Indian community in its modern sense is a distinct yet minority community (0.00018%-0.00036% of the total population in India) originating in India, consisting of people of mixed British and Indian ancestry whose native language is English. An Anglo-Indian's British ancestry was usually bequeathed paternally.

Article 366(2) of the Indian Constitution defines an Anglo-Indian as "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".

This definition also embraces the descendents of the Luso 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 . Similarly the definition includes mestiços (mixed Portuguese and Indian) of Goa and people of Indo-French, and Indo-Dutch descent .

Anglo-Indians formed a significantly small portion of the minority community in India before independence, but today more live outside India than within it. Their numbers in India have dwindled significantly as most emigrated to the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and, to a lesser extent, Canada and the United States.


The first use of the term was to describe all British people living in India, regardless of whether they had mixed blood or not. This usage changed to describe Anglo-Indians as people who were of mixed blood descending from the British on the male side and women from the Indian side. Over generations Anglo-Indians intermarried with other Anglo-Indians to form a community that developed a culture of its own. Anglo-Indian cuisine, dress, speech and religion all served to further segregate Anglo-Indians from the native population. They established a school system focused on English language and culture and formed social clubs and associations to run functions like their regular dances at occasions like Christmas and Easter.

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. A number of factors fostered a strong sense of community among Anglo-Indians. Their English language school system, their Anglocentric culture, and their Christian beliefs in particular helped bind them together..

Originally, under Regulation VIII of 1813, they were excluded from the British legal system and in Bengal became subject to the rule of Mohammedan 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. Mr. John William Ricketts, the first noble 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..

Since the railway was first introduced to India, Anglo-Indians were involved with it.

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 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..

Most 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.

There has been a resurgence in celebrating Anglo-Indian culture in the 21st Century, in the form of International Anglo-Indian Reunions and in publishing books on Anglo-Indians. There have been seven reunions with the latest being held on August 2007 in Toronto. Among the books on Anglo-Indians recently published include Anglo-Indians Vanishing remnants of a bygone era (2002). Haunting India (2003) and Voices on the Verandah (2004) and The Way We Were an Anthology of Anglo-Indian culture published in 2006.. .

The present community

Constitutional guarantees of the rights of communities and religious and linguistic minorities permit 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.

There is no evident official discrimination against Anglo-Indians in terms of current government employment but it's widely perceived that their disinclination to master local languages does not help their employment chances in modern India.

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. Countless numbers of others have been decorated for military achievements. Air Marshal M.S.D. 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 Anglo-Indians dominated was education. The most respected matriculation qualification in India, the ICSE, was started and built by some of the community's best known educationists including Frank Anthony, who served as its president, and A.E.T. Barrow who served as 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.

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 USA), 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 an estimated 200,000-400,000 Anglo-Indians living in India, most of whom are based in the cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and Mumbai. Anglo-Indians also live in Kochi, Goa, Pune, Secunderabad, Visakhapatnam, Daund, Lucknow, Agra, and in some towns of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.Also a significant number of this population resides in Orissa's Khorda town, which is a busy railway junction.

Most of the Anglo-Indians overseas are concentrated in Britain, Australia, Canada, USA, and New Zealand. Of the nearly million or so and their descendants who have emigrated from India , some are settled in Asia including Pakistan and Myanmar, and also 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. They have learned to love the best in the Australian way of life and recognise Australia for the opportunities it has given them and their children. 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.

Originally, Anglo-Indian's British ancestry was usually bequeathed paternally. However, in countries such as the United States, Canada, and England, there has been a large influx of Indian immigrants, beginning in the 1960s-70's. As a result of assimilation, mixed Anglican/Caucasian, and Indian backgrounds are becoming more prevalent with Indian ancestry descending from the paternal side. In the 2001 U.S. Census Bureau’s publication of the 56,497,000 married couples, it shows that Indian males married almost twice as much with Caucasian women (7.1%), as opposed to Indian women marrying with Caucasian men (3.7%).


The Anglo-Indian community is the only Indian community that has its own representatives nominated to the Lok Sabha (Lower House) in India's Parliament. This right was secured from Nehru by Frank Anthony, the first and long time 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, Karnataka and Kerala also have a nominated member each in their respective State Legislatures.

Notable persons of Anglo-Indian descent

See also


External links


  • Anthony F "Britain's Betrayal in India: The Story Of The Anglo Indian Community" Simon Wallenberg Press, Amazon Books.
  • Dady D S "Scattered Seeds: The Diaspora of the Anglo-Indians" Pagoda Press
  • Gabb A "1600-1947 Anglo-Indian Legacy"
  • Hawes C "Poor Relations: The Making of a Eurasian Community "
  • 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"

Flavours of the Past- Classic Colonial Cuisine - Bridget White The Best of Anglo-Indian Cuisine - A Legacy - Bridget White Anglo-Indian Delicacies - Bridget White A Collection of Anglo-Indian Roasts, Casseroles and Bakes - Bridget White The Anglo-Indian Festive Hamper - Bridget White

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