The British Empire Library

Curtain Call: Anglo-Indian Reflections

by Kathleen Cassity and Rochelle Almeida

Book Review by kind permission of Chowkidar, the journal of the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia
This is the eighth and final book of a eries that began in 2000. Started by BACSA members Blair and Ellen Williams, the idea behind the books was two-fold: to give a voice to the Anglo-lndian community and to raise money for poorer members of the community living in Calcutta. Over the last fifteen years a significant change has taken place, both in the way that Angio-Indians see themselves and how they are perceived by others, One of the co-editors, Kathleen Cassity, said when she began researching her own Anglo-Indian background in 1992, resources were scanty, apart from classics like Hostages to India by Herbert Stark and Britain 's Betrayal in India by Frank Anthony. Both titles are significant - Anglo-lndians were betrayed by Britain after 1947. The country mythologised as 'Home' even by those born in India, made it a difficult as possible for Anglo-Indians to emigrate. Passports were delayed or with-held, payments were demanded, and politicians were scathing about the supposed detects of these mixed race people.

As a result, many went to Australia New Zealand, Canada and the USA. Britain lost out on a group of people who were well-educated who were teachers, nurses, administrators and engineers and above all, British in their values. How different post-war immigration patterns might have been had the community been welcomed. In India, jobs which had traditionally been reserved for Anglo-Indians were withdrawn. Today, those who stayed in India are sharply divided into the educators running some of the best public schools and the very poor, dependent on charity. Few have made it in to government. This book then is both a summary of the community today and a nostalgic look back. 'After the Diaspora', 'Anglo-lndian Cuisine' , and 'Scholarly Forays, are some of the sections. Humour, family stories, analysis, history and gossip are all here. Among the many contributors are academics, novelists, anthropologists, journali sts and engineers. And their voices, at last are confident. Recommended.

British Empire Book
Kathleen Cassity and Rochelle Almeida
First Published
Calcutta Tiljallah Relief
Review Originally Published
Spring 2016 in Journal of the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia


Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames

by Stephen Luscombe