As India inched towards independence, hundreds of mixed-race Anglo-Indians feared for their future and retreated to a self-styled homeland in a thickly forested part of the country. Ernest McCluskie, an Indian of Scottish descent established McCluskieganj in what is now the eastern state of Jharkhand, hoping to attract Anglo-Indians anxious about the impending demise of the British empire. Nearly 80 years on, the few colonial bungalows still standing are in disrepair, the local economy survives on the back of a single school, and McCluskieganj’s ageing residents say the “chhotta England” (little England) they grew up in has vanished forever. Anglo-Indians prospered under British rule with access to good jobs in the railways, armed forces or as customs officers. They spoke English fluently, wore Western-style clothes, ate kedgeree and pudding and practised Christianity, much like the country’s colonial rulers, who reserved jobs for them in several branches of government until 1919. There was still a degree of discrimination, with British officials working in India tending to look down on Anglo-Indian colleagues. Members of the community socialised at their own clubs, since they were usually not admitted into the clubs frequented by colonial officers. Some high-profile Anglo-Indians went to great lengths to…
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