|Anglo Indian Community|
Contrary to all that has been said to denigrate their origins, the Anglo-India Community developed along quite formal and legitimate lines. The history of the Community is the history of the British connection with India. The British came to India as traders and as such the spread of their influence and domination was quite unplanned. Their advent was a story of factories starting as huts and developing into centres of, first, military influence and then civil power. Hence conquest is not the right word to describe what happened in India.
The East India Company was permitted by Emperor Jahangir in 1612, to erect a factory at Surat. In the course of time, factories grew up in many places, but the one established in Madras in 1639 rapidly grew into the largest and most important trading centre of the East India Company. As these factories grew, British writers (clerks) and soldiers came out to India in increasing numbers and understandably began to look around for women to matry. At that time British brides were virtually unobtainable in India because of the rig ours of the long sea journey round the Cape, and wives were not permitted to travel with their husbands to face the difficulties of life in India. Under these circumstances the British writers began to cultivate the society of women of Portuguese and French origin who lived in the Madras settlement. As these women were Catholic, the British men who married them preferred to change to Catholicism.
However in England there was a strong anti-Catholic feeling due to the Reformation and the East India Company evolved a new policy. In any case, the number of women of French and Portuguese extraction now available for marriage was soon exhausted as the number of British men coming into the country steadily increased. On 8 April 1678, the Directors of the East India Company addressed the Company's president in Madras thus: "The marriage of our soldiers to the native women of Fort St. George is a matter of such consequence to posterity that we shall be content to encourage it at some expense, and have been thinking for the future to appoint a pagoda to be paid to the mother of any child, that shall hereafter be born of any such future marriage, upon the day the child is christened, if you think this small encouragement will increase the number of such marriages. "The pagoda was then equivalent to eight or nine shillings, wl1ich was about five rupees. Thus a deliberate policy of promoting marriages between British men and local women was initiated.
The Anglo-Indian Community was officially brought into existence as a result of this policy. These 'pagoda' marriages were by no means confined to middle class or lower class Indian women. The British secured their wives mainly in two ways, either by treaties with Indian princes or chieftains or by marriage to widows or camp followers. Usually the women were baptised and the marriage performed according to Christian rites. This period was known as the 'Brahminising' of English rule, when it was felt that these marriages or alliances with the local people would attract the sympathy and support of the Indian population.
With the growth of trade and military power, the Directors of the East India Company began to have for the first time visions of an empire in India and thus began to encourage thejr soldiers of lower ranks to make India their home. In pursuance of this policy, every British soldier was paid Rs.5 for every child born to him through a marriage with a local woman.These marriages were not only officially encouraged, but were considered highly respectable. The offspring of these marriages were more often than not lavishly provided for and some of the women married into the leading families of British aristocracy. Of course, some of these families would today resent any imputation of a 'dark strain' in their pedigree. Undoubtedly, however, Indian lineage could be found in many of the British aristocratic families, even up to the peerage in respect of whom there has perhaps never been any suspicion of even a touch of the 'tar brush'. Some of the famous instances of British aristocracy with a history of an Indian relationship are recorded in Frank Anthony's well-known book Britain's Betrayal's in India -The Story of the Anglo-Indian Community.
With the growth of the Anglo-Indian Community, inter-marriage between Anglo-Indian women and British officers was on the increase. As time went on, British officials began to find their wives from among the daughters of Anglo-Indian homes. Thus towards the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century, there arose two types of orphanages- upper orphanage, supported by British officers, and the lower orphanage for the children wards of non-commissioned British officers or other ranks. Many orphans in the upper orphanage schools were first generation Anglo-Indians whose mothers were Anglo-Indian, Hindu or Muslim, and their fathers were British officers. Many Britons in India went to these orphanages to seek wives for themselves. Of course, the moral code in England had at that time reached a particularly low ebb, and the Britons in India were no different from the same stock, moral or immoral, as the British of those days. Europeans and Anglo-Indians were much influenced by Indian custom. Those who could afford it, ate and drank lavishly. By about 1750, the number of Anglo-Indians exceeded the number of Britons. This situation was welcomed by the Directors of the East India Company as it gave them the necessary manpower to draw upon.
As its territories expanded, the Company became involved in war-like activities and it found the Anglo-Indians specially useful because of their close ties to the British through blood, language, dress and habits. Hence the Anglo-Indians formed a vital bulwark to the growing power of the East India Company. At the beginning of the 18th century, because of its pre-occupation with wars in Europe, Britain could not provide troops for India and had it not been for the Anglo-Indians, who readily enlisted in the British army, the French would have succeeded in driving the British out of India. Thus the Anglo-Indians gallantly fought under Clive at Arcot, Sriramgoan and Trichinopoli in the Second Karnatic War. They fought at the battles of Plassey and Buxar and were present at the capture of Allahabad. They took part in the Rohilla War of 1772, the First Maratha War of 1775 and in the Second Mysore War of 1780. By 1783, Portuguese, Dutch and French ambitions in India had been crushed, largely with the help of Anglo-Indians officers and soldiers.
Thus Anglo-Indians were treated as equals and covenanted and commissioned ranks of the services were opened to them. If their fathers could afford it they were sent to England for further studies and then joined the covenanted ranks. The Anglo-Indians, like their British counterparts, were obliged to follow certain restrictions. Thus they were not permitted to live more than IOmiles(16km) from the nearest town or settlement. By tradition and training, war and soldiery were their heritage. By the beginning of the 18th century, Anglo-Indians had forged for themselves a position of respect in the British administration. Many of them, through their character and capacity for work, had risen to the highest positions in the civil and military administration of the country. By that time they had become perhaps the most wealthy and influential community in India.
There was no discrimination, against the Community either social, economic or racial. For some time the shareholders of the East India Company had watched with growing trepidation Englishmen returning from India with great wealth often acquired in a short span of time. They felt that positions ofresponsibil- ity and influence should go to the sons and relatives of shareholders in England and that the Government should no longer make appointments in India especially among those who were born in the country or were of 'mixed blood'. At about that time the Mullattos, "people of mixed European and Negro blood", with the help of the local Negro population, had expelled their French and Spanish masters and established a free black kingdom in Haiti, Caribbean Island which had been discovered by Columbus.
The shareholders of the East India Company were afraid that what had happened in Haiti would happen in India, with the Anglo-Indians leading the Indian soldiers to oust the British from India, especially since at that time the British forces in India were considerably emasculated because England was constantly at war in Europe and America. As the first step in this policy of monopoIising the senior positions, the Directors of the East India Company, under pressure from the shareholders, on 14th March, 1786, promulgated an order prohibiting practically all the wards in the upper orphanage from going to England to complete their education, so that they could no longer qualify for the covenanted posts or become officers in British regiments in India. Ricketts arrived in London on the 27 December 1829 and on 29 March 1830, the petition was presented before the House of Lords. On 4 May 1830, it was placed before the House of Commons. Before both Houses, Ricketts stated the disabilities under which the Community had been placed. He also highlighted the yeoman service of the Anglo-Indians to the British armed forces. He also pointed out that there was no opportunity for college education, except in Bishop's College which was confined to missionary purposes. Ricketts also mentioned that the members of the community were also employed as missionaries and teachers, professions in which they had acquitted themselves creditably. He said that the natives could not understand why the British should reject their own offspring and treat them with marked neglect and denials. He said: "If the real interest of India were sought, then these could not be better effected than through those who have been born, educated, and are destined to spend their lives in India, namely the Anglo-Indians." This petition to Parliament resulted in the insertion of a clause in the Charter Act of 1833, proclaiming that all persons, without reference to birth or colour, were eligible for the civil and military services of the Government. Ricketts' efforts were greatly appreciated and a portrait of him was painted free of charge by the Anglo-Indian artist Charles Pote. This portrait now hangs in the office of the All-India Anglo-Indian Association in Connaught Place, New Delhi. One of the four Houses in the Frank Anthony Public School, Kolkata, is named after this great champion of the Anglo-Indian cause.
Queen Victoria's proclamation of I November 1858 brought an official end to the Mutiny. What was salvaged from the happenings of 1857 stands out as a shining monument to the courage and devotion to duty' of the Anglo- Indian Community. In spite of having been subjected to economic and social disabilities, the Anglo-Indians formed civilian regiments and fought shoulder to shoulder with the most seasoned of British and Indian soldiers. As part of the recognition of the fighting qualities of the Community, it was announced by the Government that a regiment of Anglo-Indians from all parts of the country would be raised for service in Bengal. On 28 July 1860, Bishop George Cotton, the Metropolitan of Calcutta, pleaded for the setting up of well-equipped schools for the Community and Lord Canning, the Viceroy, pleaded ardently for fair play to the Anglo-Indians which he argued would become a source of strength and usefulness to British rule in India. Unfortunately Lord Canning's viceroyship came to an end in 1862 and it was not till 13 August 1881, that Lord Lytton, the then Viceroy, issued a minute in which the government of India decided on 15 October, 1881, to make European education, which included the Anglo-Indians, a department of Public Instruction.
Thus came into being, schools referred to as Anglo-Indian schools, which were meant for Anglo-Indians only and were heavily supported by the Government of India. However after independence in 1947, these financial benefits to the schools run for the Anglo-Indian Community were gradually fazed out until at the end of ten years from the commencement of the Constitution of India, that is, by the yearl961, these concessions had ceased. The next important figure in the history of the Community was Sir Henry Gidney. A well known and capable surgeon, Gidney got his first taste of public life in 1918 when he was elected president of the Bombay Branch of the Anglo- Indian Empire League, an Qrganisation which had been founded in 1908 by Charles Palmer.
Consequent to the Montague Chelmsford Reforms, the Anglo-Indian Community was given a seat in the newly formed Central Legislature Assembly. Gidney, who had emerged as the undisputed leader of the Community, was nominated by the Viceroy in 1921 to the Anglo- Indian seat in the Central Legislative Assembly. His chief concern was the employment. of Anglo-Indians in the railways, in which a preponderant section of the Community were employed. When Gidney entered the Assembly there were approximately 11,000 Anglo-Indians employed in the railways; in ten years the number had increased to 14,000. On 9 April 1926, at a conference attended by the representative of the various Anglo-Indian groups from different parts of the country, it was decided that all the groups would come together with one purpose and one voice. Only the branches in Allahabad and Madras did not join, although in 1929 the Allahabad branch became part of this single organisation. The accredited leader was Sir Henry Gidney and the organisation came to be known as the All-India Anglo-Indian Association, a name which had been introduced by Sir Henry Gidney through aresolu- tion passed in 1919, at the Allahabad conference of the Empire League. Unfortunately Gidney died in 1942 a disillusioned man because he received nothing for the Community from the Cripps Mission which had visited India about that time.
Sir Henry Gidney was succeeded by Frank Anthony, a brilliant young lawyer from Jabalpur, on whose shoulders had fallen the task of finding a place for the Anglo-Indian Community. In 1942, Anthony issued his clarion call to the Community: "We are Anglo Indians by Community. Between 1959 and 1963, the All-India Education Institution had set up three public schools, named after Frank Anthony, in the cities of Delhi, Calcutta and Bangalore. The Frank Anthony Scholarship Scheme was also started. In 1992, the Frank Anthony Award Scheme was introduced. The criteria for giving such awards were worked out and submitted to the education committee by the author of this Article.
There is no doubt that the history and the well-being of the Community is closely linked to the history and progress of the All-India Anglo-Indian Association. Today the All-India Anglo-Indian Education Institution is in a position to fund the development of the Frank Anthony Schools under its charge as well as to spend over Rs twelve lakhs annually in scholarships and awards paid through the Branches of the All-India Anglo-Indian Association. There is no doubt that the history and the well-being of the Community is closely linked to the history and progress of the All-India Anglo-Indian Association. Today the All-India Anglo-Indian Education Institution is in a position to fund the development of the Frank Anthony Schools under its charge as well as to spend over Rs twelve lakhs annually in scholarships and awards paid through the Branches of the All-India Anglo-Indian Association. Once true unity becomes the hallmark among its members, then the motto of the late Maj. General Robert Williams, and continued by his successor Neil O'Brien -Unity is Prosperity -will become a reality.