Anglo-Indians: The Dilemma of Identity

Sheila Pais James


On the eve of departure of the British from India, the Anglo-Indians found themselves in an invidious situation - caught between the European attitude of superiority towards Indian and Anglo-Indian alike and the Indian mistrust of them, due to their aloofness and their Western - oriented culture. One of the problems the Anglo-Indian community has always faced is one of ‘Identity’. In the early days of the colonial rule it was difficult for the Anglo-Indians to answer with certainty the question "Who am I?" As a genuine community consciousness developed this identity dilemma lessened but it was never firmly resolved. With the British leaving India and as opportunities for a resolution of identity conflict through migration faded a new identity orientation was necessary. Many Anglo-Indians, who were unable to make such a turn-about of identity and feeling insecure without the protective imperial umbrella, opted to leave India. Thus, victims of dilemma and indiscretion throughout their existence thousands of Anglo-Indians left for safe shores - Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. For Anglo-Indians who have left India and settled abroad a similar problem of Identity again arises.

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