The way we are
I was fascinated and impressed by this article but I think there could be many others, mostly young people, who are not rich and don’t speak English at home but have other traits similar to Indo-Anglians (“Indo-Anglians: The newest and fastest-growing caste in India”). For instance, they may have brand preferences or religious and social habits like the class this author describes. This section may be larger that the so-called Indo-Anglians. For instance, my friends and I are convent-educated, highly active on social media, addicted to international shows and music, and mildly religious, but we are not rootless as we are emotionally connected to a lot of extended family and friends. This possibly merits further exploration. – Chitrarth Srivastava
I believe your calculation of the number of English-speaking Indians may be wrong. I see that you refer to a 2001 study in which it is mentioned that India has approximately 125 million English speakers. You use the same statistic but then in between say the growth has been highest in the last one decade.
I believe that India’s English-speaking population has grown tremendously in the last two decades, possibly even doubled. In 2001, India’s literacy rate was 64% and today in 2018 it must be close to 80%. I am assuming that the Indians who said they were using English as a second language have seen the highest surge. You also mention some very important points in your article. India has seen its highest growth rate in the first decade of the 21st century with consistency. This resulted in the creation of a herculean middle class, some of them working service people, girls and boys who work in MNCs but live in rented apartments. Their work environments compel them to use English. All these and other factors make me conclude that the English-speaking population would be somewhere around 250 million. – Ayush Kaushik
What an excellent piece! All that he said is indeed true. However, I may also venture to add that the Modernist logic makes Indo-Anglians do what they do. Personal choice dictates since there are no relatives of a joint family to help. Each one is on his or her own, a la the West. Loneliness is growing. In the interest of giving a child the best without the hassles and frustrations they themselves encountered, they are ensuring a lonely future for themselves in their old age and their only children when the parents are no more.
It is a tragedy that is seen in the number of people who are stressed and unhappy. Fast life, lack of family interaction, too much Western influence, too much media consumption coupled with a growing need to ensure their earnings are high make their lives less enjoyable.
Like many readers of Scroll.in, I happen to be one of the Indo-Anglians, except that I make it a point to speak in my mother tongue at home so that the kids can learn from me. I wish to retire, if finances allow me to, in a rural area. I do not use Netflix or such platforms, nor do I go to any of the social joints the author mentions. I crave old-fashioned traditional rural foods and would love to have a third child but can’t due to financial reasons. Also, I have made a conscious choice of ensuring that I get enough time to myself and for my family. Indo-Anglians don’t usually have that luxury.
I blame the modern capitalist Western model for this state. This is not to say that the pre-modern was all rosy. But the warmth of a large family, the lower emphasis on money and more on humanity in the past makes one long for the past in the future. Tragically, we are heading more and more into the abyss and our policy decisions are more and more oriented toward higher everything: productivity, financial returns, efficiency, need to equal the West, and more. – Rajratna Jadhav
This is a new idea and I absolutely absolutely loved the entire narration. It was so well detailed, explored many aspects and justified its stand. Thank You! – Yashashvi Mundhra
This is an interesting article but not a new phenomenon! The population of Indo-Anglians has certainly expanded over the years, but they have always been there. I am 58 and I grew up as one. My knowledge of my mother tongue is limited. I consider English my first language and we have communicated at home in this language all our lives. My contemporaries were the same. We were not wealthy, that attribute has come now in the new and improved Incredible India! The Central government employee who got transferred regularly was the reason for this phenomenon in the old days. Now it is the entry of American TV in Indian homes! – Jaidev
This was an excellent eyeopener! You have definitely opened a new avenue for thought. But a demographic difference in society as large and diverse as India depends on so many other factors. However it’s a refreshing idea, one like-minded people will confabulate on. – Vineeth Naik
These Indo-Anglians are the result of Macaulay’s design, not that he intended it that way. This is not a surprise, given our Constitution and our day-to-day lives. The fact that most of the powerful developed nations are in the West and have undue influence on the world also have a deep psychological effect on any child. – Giridhari Krishna
This is how some people kill their roots and ultimately make themselves irrelevant as they lose their identity, values, tradition, culture. This class accepts and adopts anything Western. They adopt Indian yoga, if imported from the West. This class is probably the most unproductive and have gained affluence by depriving others of their dues. They are the ones who spoil and ruin society by changing their values based on their egoistic thinking. Only time will tell what their contributions are. Please preserve your roots. – Vijay Suri
What an interesting article on Indo-Anglians. Having been born and brought up in a home of mixed parentage and mixed religions (though primarily a-religious), with frequent transfers and no awareness about caste, we were truly Indo-Anglians. But too few in number, we constantly wondered which community we belonged to. Yet, we were fiercely, proudly Indian. Today, I find so many youngsters who are similar to the way we were back in the 1980s. What I like most about them is their complete apathy towards caste. The flip side is that many of them will make their homes abroad and won’t help build a more progressive mindset that is necessary in India. – Mala Dhawan
I am a 76-year-old Konkani woman with two daughters: one married a man from Uttar Pradesh and the other married someone from Andhra Pradesh. My husband was Tamilian. All my friends are Indo-Anglians, to use your term. I concur with most of your observations.
It is uncanny how you have zeroed in on some of our lifestyle choices, a kind of broad-mindedness that prevails in most of our members. However, I am not sure of the acceptance of gurus. I am not a follower of any cult guru. Nor was my husband, who was an atheist. Several of my friends whom you may call Indo-Anglians are atheists.
Also, I have never had identity issues or a feeling of rootlessness. I am an Indian and a human being. That should be enough for most of us. Apart from these two points, I found your article amazingly accurate in describing us as a group. I was a Pai and to this day, my daughters complain that I was remiss in not teaching them Konkani, though they speak fairly good Tamil. But, as you point out, the predominant language is English. Probably no one has paid attention to this group because of its small size and diffused presence in the country. – Sudha Krishnaswamy
Thank you so much for giving me a useful insight into this community. I have came across so many people who are more fluent in English. I always wondered where these people came from and what they have done in their life to be so fluent in English. Thanks to this article, I can now easily recognise these people and know why they are the way they are. – Abdul Hannan
I do not agree with this article. The most prominent trait of this community is their snobbery. This comes from the fact that they consider themselves superior to those who cannot converse fluently in English.
It is this community that is responsible for creating and perpetuating a myth, according to which speaking in English is the barometer of not only your knowledge but also your success in life. This myth has played havoc with the psyche of our youth, particularly those who come from rural or semi-urban areas. When they come to the cities for education or for jobs, they feel nervous and handicapped and start joining classes in narrow lanes where they are taught how to speak wrong English.
This Indo-Anglian community has another prominent trait: a deep sense of entitlement. They think just because they can converse in English fluently, they are superior to others and are entitled to all the available perks and privileges. People of this community, particularly the younger generation, are highly dismissive of our cultural heritage and traditions. The fact that most of them have no idea of their past inheritance is due to the false notions of cultural superiority from which they suffer.
I completely disagree with the point made in this article that the Indo-Anglian community does not believe in caste or its practices. Speaking in English does not necessarily lead to the development of a scientific temperament. My experience is that most people from this community are highly conservative in their outlook and practices. Any poor person belonging to a depressed class or caste, even if well educated, is not allowed to be a part of their community. I also feel that the observation in the article that this community is mostly vegetarians is not based on any data. – GP Joshi
As the author alluded, the move towards a health insurance-based model should be questioned and discussed (“Opinion: Modicare is more an election gimmick than a real solution to India’s health needs”). The case of the United States has shown that an insurance-based model does not achieve much in terms of improving access, Rather, it may only increase the cost of healthcare.
Of course, if corporate profit is the primary aim, then this scheme will surely achieve that. Otherwise, insurance for hospitalisation will only increase the cost of healthcare in this country with minimal increase in access to care for the poor. Improving our public health systems should be the government’s priority. Increased allocation with appropriate schemes to strengthen human resources and quality healthcare at public facilities with free drugs would have reduced the impoverishment of households and improved access to care at reasonable costs. Insurance cover for specific high-cost illnesses, on the other hand, will be useful for poor families who require that care. Hope some good debates on this topic will bring in the wisdom required and lead us on a sustainable path to healthcare delivery in India. – Beena Varghese
True, announcing the healthcare scheme without having worked on the infrastructure first seems to be politically driven. If the intention of the government was to improve healthcare, they would have enhanced the infrastructure. The government has increased revenue by increasing cess, but has not spelt out how the benefits of the scheme will go to the people, when there are not enough facilities in government as well as private hospitals. Demand in the health sector already outstrips supply. Even if the government is serious about the scheme, it may take many months for it to finalise how to implement it. So for some time at least, the proposal will be on paper. – Rajiv Mehta
All Budgets are always about using the taxes imposed on the middle class to buy the votes of the poor and to give subsidies to the rich (“No income tax relief and a new capital gains tax: Budget 2018 has shortchanged the middle class”). Another important thing to note is that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed a revision of the salaries of the president, vice-president and governors in the Union Budget 2018. What about the common man? The best initiative of Budget 2018 is the fellowship for 1,000 BTech students. – Shashidhar Vuppala
Budget 2018 is indeed a non-starter for education (“Barring expansion of loans for institutions, Budget 2018 is a non-starter for education, say experts”). The allocation is minimal and will not help close existing gaps in terms of teacher recruitment, classrooms and academic support.
This obvious non-action also has an underlying cynical message: it conveys that the government does not have the confidence to spend money. An additional education cess could create extra money, but they government won’t have a plan or vision to spend it wisely. It is not lack of funds, it is the government’s lack of faith in its ability to reform education. – Arvind Sardana
This programme was scheduled nearly a year ago (“RSS ‘show of strength’ rallies in Uttar Pradesh will add fuel to Kasganj fire”). Don’t relate it to the Kasganj incident. Yes, it is a show of strength, but not against any community. This is nothing but a way to oil the organisational machinery. Such exercises are necessary in every organisation to engage the cadre. – Sunil Dhengle
I strongly agree with Rayan Naqash (“Kashmir can generate a lot more hydel electricity than it requires. Why is it eyeing solar power?”). It is not advisable to spend money on solar power when we have huge hydro-electric potential of around 16,475 mega watts out of which 11,283 mega watts of hydro power can be produced on the Chenab river itself, followed by 3,084 mega watts on the Jehlum and 1,608 mega watts on the Indus. Currently, we are producing only a meagre 3,264 mega watts. Why spend money on solar power in areas that don’t even have the proper solar insolation throghout the year? Solar plants require at least six months of intense to medium sunlight to work fully. Moreover, they can never be used as base load stations (owing to their low mega watt ratings). On the contrary, if concrete steps are taken to harness hydropower, it could be a huge game-changer and the state could go into surplus. It would then be feasible to sell power to our neighbouring states, thus improving the economic condition of Jammu and Kashmir.- Akshay Dhar