'The Lure of the Coloured Man'
This lurid article about the dangers of romances with suave Indian students at British universities appeared in the magazine 'Answers' in December 1936. You can see from the close-up below the tone of the article. 'The man was a particularly handsome, velvet-eyed Indian, with that melodious, high bred speaking voice which is peculiar to better-class Hindus. ...'
The cutting is in the Indian Office Records at the British Library. The paragraph marked in heavy blue crayon mentions a department in the India Office 'only too anxious to be of service to you of you wish to make inquiries about your prospective [Indian] son-in-law'.
The India Office did indeed get a steady trickle of letters from English women who had married Indian students in the UK and been deserted - or some canny ones wanting to understand what would be the legal status of their marriage in India - and a few from family members, or lawyers, making enquiries.
English brides, once in India, could find that their marriage was not recognised - and that under Hindu or Muslim personal law, their husbands had already married or could take additional wives. And if they were deserted in the UK - waiting for the money to pay their passage out which somehow never came - it was very difficult to get a divorce.
One of those on whose behalf an enquiry was made had given birth to a boy in Leeds, apparently fathered by a student who was a member of the Hyderabad royal family
The Lord Chancellor's office proposed setting up what was called a 'polygamy committee' to deal with the issue. By the mid-1930s there were well over a thousand Indians studying in Britain - almost all of them men, and more than two-thirds in London. It's difficult to know how many married while they were here - but certainly a significant number.
Some wit at the Indian Office wrote on this file that Jane Doe, the pseudonymous author of this alarmist and thoroughly disreputable piece of journalism, 'seems to be an admirable person!' It would be nice to think he was joking.
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