Friday, July 4, 2014

Anglo-Indians and India : The Forgotten Connections

Remembering The Anglo-Indians
‘Anglo-Indian Heritage series’ - 
1`  Anglo-Indians Vanishing remnants of a bygone era – Blair Williams (2002); 
2  Haunting India – Margaret Deefholts (2003);
3   Voices on the Verandah  - Anglo Indian Prose and Poetry - Deefholts and Staub (2004); 
4  The Way We Were – Anglo-Indian chronicles  - Deefholts and Deefholts (2006); 
5  The Way We Are – An Anglo-Indian Mossaic - Lumb and Veldhuizen (2008);
6  Unwanted – Esther Mary Lyons (1996); 
7  Women of Anglo-India – Tales and Memoirs – Deefholts and Deefholts (2010); 
8  More Voices on the Verandah – An Anglo-Indian Anthology – Lionel Lumb (2012)
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Yes---India has a diverse culture woven into the fabric of its society and music. The Anglo-Indians have contributed immensely in enriching the Indian diaspora with their contribution to Railways, Customs, Port Commissioners, Merchant Navy, Civil Service, Nursing, Teaching and the Military.  So many books and articles have been written about the  Anglo-Indians , a term   first used by Warren Hastings in the eighteenth century to describe both the British in India and their Indian-born children. In the nineteenth century the British in India still separated themselves from coloured people but accepted fairer (and often wealthier) people of dual heritage as "Anglo-Indian". Darker (and usually poorer) people were given the name "Eurasian". Today (apart from literature still alluding to the British who have lived in India for a long time as "Anglo-Indian" the term rightly signifies a world minority who have settled in Canada, New Zealand, the United States of Americas the United Kingdom and Australia, with some 150,000 still in India and a total of well over 500,000 world-wide.
 1                                    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.There is some confusion whether Cliff  Richard was only born in India or whether he has Indian blood!! Only Cliff can clarify, and he has never spoken of his Indian connection much.
 2                                 In the 1960s thousands of Anglo-Indians who had emigrated to Britain were considering remigration with their British-born children to new countries. The relaxation of the restrictive entry policy and  non-discrimination on the grounds of race, colour or nationality in the selection of migrants, resulted in a noticeable increase in the number of Anglo-lndian settlers to Canada,Australia and New-zealand .There have been many success stories of the Anglo-Indians who emigrated from India to these countries. In 1947 Roland McGready, was an Anglo-Indian in the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. He left for Melbourne in the 1960s. His son, Dr Roland McGready (a biochemist), has a successful academic research consultancy. A daughter, Kathy, toured India with an Australian women's cricket team and is writing its history. Malcolm and Bonita Prior and Peter Savedra opened factories which employ hundreds of people between them. Tony Archer and former boxing champion Peter Prince are in the insurance business. Henry Roach, Colonel Charles Campagnac and Colonel Denzil Alexander (whose family served the maharajas of Jaipur for seven generations) had opened the Independent Oil Company, in Victoria. Kris Noble, who arrived from the United Kingdom, produces satirical television programs for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), such as The Gillies Report. Some have opened restaurants, such as the Gardners and Parkers (Melbourne), the Bretagnes (Sydney), and the deRosarios (Adelaide). 
3    The Anglo-Indians have been an indelible part of the Indian ArmyAt every point of critical importance in the development of the British Raj, Anglo-Indians were present. At the Mysore wars, at the Mahratta, Sikh, Afghan and Gurkha wars, Anglo-Indian or countryborn men fought and helped win victories, defending their fathers' interests. The great regiments of the Indian army had among them the Khyber Rifles (founder, Sir Robert Warburton), the Shekwati Brigade (founder, Colonel Henry Forster) and Skinner's Horse (founder, Colonel James Skinner), Hodsons Horse, Probyns Horse, Poonah Horse. Many of these men  were the sons of Anglo-Indian marriages, having among their ancestors Indian or Anglo-Indian women.
4                     From 1791 the Anglo-Indians were debarred from the East India Company's armies and many trained the armies of the Indian princes. The French-descended Bourbons served Bhopal; the Filoses served the Scindia maharajas of Gwalior. It is now acknowledged by biographers (as Anglo-Indians have long believed) that men like William Pitt, Lord Roberts of Kandahar, Lord Liverpool and W. M. Thackeray, who contributed eminently to political life and to literature, were of partly Indian descent.Their contribution in shaping the history of the world has left an un-delible mark. During World War 1 about 8000 Anglo-Indians fought in Mesopotamia, East Africa, and in the European theatre - Eleven Anglo-Indians were awarded Victoria Crosses. 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.

5  In World War II  the Anglo-Indians fought at Dunkirk and flew in the battle of Britain - Guy Gibson of the Dam Busters was one such Anglo-Indian, and they were in North Africa, Malaya and the fall of Singapore.

6   Many  Anglo-Indian officers of the British Indian Army and later of he Indian Army have settled in Australia. The late Lt Gen Henderson Brooks settled in Sydney. Col Finnemore settled in Adelaide. Lt Cmdr Barney Cockburn settled in Melbourne and his sons own a night club there. Col Denzil Alexander and Harold Roach(Artillery), Col Charles Campagnac(3GR and later Rajputana Rifles), Col Dudley Beebey(Signals), Col Dennis Fallon(Probyns Horse), Col Trevor Perry(3 Cav) , all  settled in Melbourne.  Col Trevor Edwards had been in the Army of the Nizam of Hyderabad and too had settled in Australia. Some of the RAF/RIAF and IAF officers who settled in Australia include Douglas Auglier, Desmon.d Phusong, Mickey Blake, Allen Alley. One that I know from childhood memories is  Col Gardner ,erstwhile Commanding Officer 165 Field Regiment, Indian Army.

7             Actress Vivien Leigh, actor Boris Karloff, actor Ben Kingsley, actress Merle Oberon, writer Rudyard Kipling, dancer Juliet Prowse, singer Cliff Richard, singer Engelbert Humperdinck, singer Tony Brent, Ex Beatle Pete Best, track & field star Sebastian Coe, hockey player Leslie Claudius, cricketer Roger Binny, billiards player Wilson Jones, stand up comedian Russell Peters, are all Anglo-Indians. Was Norman Pritchard , the first Indian (Anglo-Indian , to win an Olympic Medal??) 

 8                 T
he Anglo-Indians took India to Olympic hockey glory. From 1928, India won five consecutive Olympic hockey gold medals. In fact, when India faced Australia in the semi-finals of the 1960 Olympics in Rome, it was a unique occasion. The captains who came face to face were both Anglo-Indians - Leslie Claudius and Kevin Carton. 

 Prior to the 19 th century , Britishers born in India were also known as Anglo Indians.

    9                       Their unmistakable stamp is not only on pure ethnic Indian music , but also Rock, Jazz, Rythm, Blues, Country ,--you name it .Some of the well known singers and popular bands include/included mostly Anglo Indians (only Indian and British blood) and Eurasians (Indian and European blood ie other than British, could be French, Portugese). In the music industry there are Engelbert Humperdinck (born Madras), Peter Sarstedt (Delhi) and Cliff Richard (Lucknow), Pete Best, original drummer for the Beatles, Norah Jones daughter of Ravi Shankar. Coming to Jazz,in India, Jazz was probably first performed regularly in the metropoles Calcutta and Bombay around the late 1920s.The era from the 1930s to the 1950s is often called as the golden age of jazz in India. It began with jazz musicians like Leon Abbey, Crickett Smith, Creighton Thompson, Ken Mac, Roy Butler, Teddy Weatherford (who recorded with Louis Armstrong), and Rudy Jackson who toured India to avoid the racial discrimination they faced in the USA.In the winter of 1935, Leon Abbey, a violinist from Minnesota brought the first 8-piece band to Bombay.
Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara; Gujarati)Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on Thursday September 5th 1946 on the small spice island of Zanzibar. His parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara, were both Parsee (Persian). His father, Bomi, was a civil servant, working as a High Court cashier for the British Government. Freddie's sister, Kashmira, was born in 1952. In 1954, at the age of eight, Freddie was shipped to St Peter's English boarding school in Panchgani, about fifty miles outside Bombay. It was there his friends began to call him Freddie, a name the family also adopted.
Freddie Mercury performing in New Haven, CT, November 1978.jpg
The Hutson Sisters, Bombay

Deepak Ram

Neil Welch

Rudresh Mahanthappa
Cliff Richard

Engelbert Humperdinck

10          Engelbert Humperdinck (born Arnold George Dorsey; 2 May 1936) is a British Indian pop singer, best known for his UK number-one hits "Release Me" and "The Last Waltz", as well as "After the Lovin'" and "A Man Without Love".

Born in Madras, India, Dorsey moved to Leicester, England, as a child with his family, where he took an early interest in music. Initially playing the saxophone in nightclubs, he soon started singing, releasing his first single, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again", in 1958. After struggling with tuberculosis, in the mid-1960s Dorsey returned to his musical career, adopting the stage name "Engelbert Humperdinck" after the German 19th-century composer of operas
Henry Green, Frank Fernand and Hal Green at the Bombay Swing Club debut concert
Henry Green, Frank Fernand and Hal Green at the Bombay Swing Club debut concert

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