Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Anglo-Indians - Response

Where shall I start?

Anglo-Indians are wanted back in India and will be welcomed with open arms, only, it would seem if they embrace Hinduism. Once they have done that they will be equal partners "in India’s promising future, politically and economically." However, the A-I community have been, and have had exactly that in the West for the last 60 years. This reminds me of the 19th century missionaries who went to India to try and convert the heathens. That idea was equally as shortsighted as the good doctor's is.

There is no such thing as equality in India. Men and women in India are not equal and Hindusim is more prejudiced towards its own people than any other race on earth, where its caste system was designed to keep everyone in its place, and the use of the word 'karma' (what will be, will be) has been a great device for keeping Indians in that place for centuries. Under the British, India and Indians, (including Pakistanis and Bangladeshis) were for the one and only time in their history, equally united across the sub-continent.

The English (or British), neither loved or hated the Anglo-Indians, however, they have been accepted by Britan and the West, and they have been free to be, and to become whatever they wish to become and to worship whomever they wish. India it seems has taken 60 years to realise that they now want Anglo-Indians to "come home." In India you still have to wear a label that identifies you as belonging to a particular sect, community or religion. Why? Sixty years is a long time to realise that Anglo-Indians are as "as Indian as us." But only when it suits India's political, economic and religious plans. India will welcome you back with open arms and warmly shake your hands, but be sure to count your fingers afterwards because even a blind man could spot this wolf in sheep's clothing!

The good doctor says that, "It is India that defines you and not England." That is not true. It is childhood that defines us and makes each and every one of us what we are today. And, in the history books that I have read and studied, I was always led to believe that the Mughals (whose culture and architecture India still celebrates as its own today) came from Persia. That makes at least two foreign invaders!

I do, however believe the good doctor when he says that the Anglo-Indians "are far more important to India than to England." That is obvious from the doctor's email. However, one does wonder why, and why now?

The doctor continues; "England used you for its purposes, and now does not even give you due respect as a major part of her history." I don't recall seeing any Indian history books that espouse the Anglo-Indians role in history either. The doctor then confuses the British with the Nazis, and like the Nazis boasts of world domination. Well, I am pleased for India and its people, because they have been living in the dark ages for too long, defined by superstition and religion. However, I would suggest that without the British, India's economic, political, education, military etc., would not be where she hopes to be tomorrow. It is only a shame that it has taken sixty years of internal political, cultural and religious struggles to get to be where she once was, when she was part of the British Empire.

As a genealogical researcher with 36 years experience I can assure you that when you begin looking into a person's family tree, there are few, if any, that can boast a pure-bred lineage that is descended from one single race of people. The British can not claim that and neither can the Indians. With DNA profiling today, we can now trace our origins back to our first ancestors. If we all investigated our DNA origins, what would we do with the labels that we currently wear and continue to allow people to pin on us, when our DNA can probably be traced back to Africa? Would we suddenly become African's? I think not!

I would suggest to all Anglo-Indians that you simply rejoice in being you, and cherish those wonderful memories of childhood. Oh! and regards the good doctor I would suggest a simple, "thanks, but no thanks!"

Best wishes
Paul Rowland
The Indiaman magazine
http://www.indiaman.com

Anglo-Indians

Today I received an email from Bert Payne of Anglo-Indians.com. He forwarded an email from a Dr Gautam Jayaswal about Anglo-Indians which makes interesting reading. I have included his email below, and my reply to it.

If you would like to comment on this email, please feel free to do so on this blog.

Best wishes
Paul Rowland
The Indiaman Magazine.


India and all Indians would like the Anglo-Indian community worldwide to take an active role in India and in India’s promising future, politically and economically, just as the rest of the 25 million strong (non Anglo-Indian) Indian diaspora is doing. So we are reaching out to you to be our equal partners in this venture. You are as Indian as us. And you have an equal right and equal responsibility towards India. You can never be accorded the love and respect from the English as you will from us. We want you to ‘come home’. You are us and we are you. We are in this together.

In the past, there has been an estrangement between the Indians and the Anglo-Indians. Part of this is both our fault and part of this is due to circumstances. India felt let down that you had rejected the greatest civilization (Indian) and the greatest religion of the world (Hinduism) for fleeting and non-existent political gains. We also understand that you needed to survive. So let us forget the past and welcome each other with open arms.

It is India that defines you and not England. It is India that brings out the fond memories. England had many colonies worldwide but India had just one legitimate foreign invader in the form of the English, and therefore you are far more important to India than to England. England used you for its purposes, and now does not even give you due respect as a major part of her history. Besides, millions of Hindus were massacred, its wealth was looted, its women raped by the British. And what was our crime ? Between the 1st and the 16th centuries, India was the biggest economy of the world – its downfall was brought about by the English. And now within 60 years of its independence, it’s become a world power again, economically and militarily. By 2075, India will overtake USA and China to be the world’s number one economy again. You are a part of this!

We would like the Anglo-Indian diasporas to:

1. Join non-resident Indian organizations worldwide and attend their meetings just as they were your own
2. Apply for overseas Indian citizenship
3. Take an active interest in India politically, economically, culturally and historically
4. Meet Indian political leaders to put your view points across to them
5. Visit India whenever you can
6. Encourage marriages between Indians and Anglo-Indians.
7. Enjoy and celebrate Indian festivals
8. Watch our silly ‘Bollywood’ movies
9. Teach your children about their Indian heritage
10. One of the dividing factors between Indians and the Anglo-Indian community is religion. Almost 100% of you are Christians. Normally, in mixed races, there is roughly equal representation of both religions amongst the descendants. But amongst you we do not see even a single Hindu. And this pains us. We do understand the economic necessities of adopting Christianity at that time. But times are different now, we live in a world where you can make a free choice. Hinduism is the essence of India. It is more than a religion; it’s also a way of life, a philosophy and a culture. Its depth and depth is unmatched by far. Among its many virtues is its ability to encourage debate and acceptance of wide ranging different philosophies. We request the Anglo-Indian community to study and take up Hinduism if not as a sole religion, then at least as a ‘co-religion’ or a second religion. However, this is not binding on you. Religion can be a sensitive issue, so we welcome debate between our communities to remove any hard feelings. ( For those interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism )

Look forward to working with you on this great adventure.

Sincerely,
Gautam Jayaswal.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Who Do You Think You Are?

I was fascinated and delighted to watch the BBC's TV programme "Who Do You Think You Are?" featuring the search for the family tree of Alisair McGowan last Thursday (October 4th 2007).

His genealogical journey of discovery had so many twists and turns that the poor man was reeling, as his family tree was uncovered and his Anglo-Indian roots were exposed back to 18th century India.

I was glad that The Indiaman Magazine was able to help with some of the research into this episode, and I was also delighted that we received a credit at the end of the programme.

I have been inundated with emails from readers around the world asking me for copies of that episode. I have contacted the TV Company who produced the programme to enquire if this series of WDYTYA? will be released on DVD. They said that they will let me know.

When I hear from them, I will let you know.

Best wishes
Paul Rowland
The Indiaman Magazine.