16 January, 2021

The Evening Train From McCluskiegunj

Only a few of the Britons who stayed on after ’47 remain. This book shows they were more diverse than imagined.

Jitender Gupta
The Evening Train From McCluskiegunj
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The British departure from India at the time of independence was nowhere near as sudden as the handover of power. Many British citizens chose to stay on—there were 28,000 of them in 1951, and still 6,500 in 1971. They did not own large tracts of lands, as ‘settlers’ did in other former British colonies. They stayed largely because they could imagine no other life but the one in India. One of the interviewees in this enjoyable and touching book admits that he stayed on for a lifestyle that allowed him to go through life without ever learning “how to boil an egg or make a cup of tea”. These stayers-on are often caricatured as retired civil servants living in the hills, and surviving, precariously, on diminishing pensions. In fact, many of them were working men, some with families, employed in plantations or, as boxwallahs, in a range of commercial activities for big companies. Some of them were recruited from the UK to work in India after independence. The date at which things fell apart for them was not August 15,...

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