16 August 2014: The Anglo-Indians – a history

The Anglo-Indians played a major role in several areas and the history of India is dotted with their contribution — railways, education, government services to name a few.

Anglo-IndiansTrivia: What do Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell and Mulligatawny soup have in common? Answer: They are synonymous with the definition ‘Anglo-Indian’. Down the years, the Anglo-Indian community in India has attracted the attention of historians and academics, novelists and film-makers. Chronicling the history of the 500 year-old community, historian-author S. Muthiah revealed he wanted his new book, aptly titled The Anglo Indians: a 500-year History to be viewed from several angles, chiefly a weaving together of historical bits and also an insight into the roles, aspects and contributions of the community. Many books have already recorded the history of the Anglo-Indian community from the 1900s to the present, each reflecting the shifting fortunes of the community. Viewed with a mixture of both derision and awe, the Anglo-Indian community in India have drawn equal amount of flak and praise: from ‘historical anachronisms’ to a truly literate people who achieved much with little aggression and good grace, exhibiting the virtues of strong family and religious ties. This book represents what is the first pictorial history of the community. In the opening narrative, the author explores the encounter between Europeans and Indians and the origins and growth of the Anglo-Indian community in the context of colonialism and empire-building. Written from a 21st century perspective, Muthiah traces the origins and growth of four generations of Anglo-Indians, utilising a careful mix of research, descriptive analysis, personal anecdotes and photographs.

anglo-2Entire chapters are devoted to topics which include education, gastronomy, sports and entertainment personalities, military and civil service and the Railway People – the name given to the nomadic gypsy-like sub-community of the Anglo-Indians. The text isn’t bogged down with technicalities, making it an easy and enjoyable read for many. The Anglo-Indians is now available at Areca Books.