Location: India, especially Calcutta; UK, Australia
Population: 100,000
% of population: 0.01%
Religion: Christian
Language: English

The Anglo-Indian community is the smallest officially recognized minority group in India. Article 366(2) of the Indian Constitution of 1950 defines an Anglo-Indian as “a person whose father or any of whose 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”.

The Anglo-Indian community originated soon after 1639 when the British East India company founded a settlement in Madras. The community identified itself with, and was accepted by, the British, until 1791 when they were excluded from positions of authority in the civil, military and marine services in the East India Company. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 the Anglo-Indians sided with the British, and consequently received favoured treatment from the British government in preference to Indians, serving in large numbers in the strategic services of the Railways, Post and Telegraph, and Customs. In 1919 the Anglo-Indian community was given one reserved seat in the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi. The English-speaking Anglo-Indians identified themselves with the British against the nationalist Congress Party, despite British attitudes of superiority.

After independence in 1947 the Anglo-Indians faced a difficult choice — to leave India or to integrate. Many Indians distrusted their pro-British attitudes and western-oriented culture. Large numbers did leave, mainly for Britain and Australia. Those who remained were allowed reserved representation in the Central Legislative (Article 331 — in practice one seat in the lower house) and there are similar provisions in state legislatures. There were also stipulations for reservations in some government posts for a period of 20 years.

In many ways the Anglo-Indians who remain in India are a protected and relatively well-off community. They are literate, urbanized and are well represented in the military, sports and some areas of the civil service. But they are also an ageing community and declining in numbers. Most younger members emigrate, if possible, and those who remain are unlikely to have the numbers or social cohesion to continue as a dynamic community.