Political and church leaders from different denominations have joined Anglo-Indians in a protest march against the denial of representatives for Anglo-Indians in parliament and the legislative assembly, which they call an injustice to their community.
Some 50 protesters from across the country gathered in New Delhi on March 5, voiced their opposition to the government’s move and displayed a banner reading “Restore our representations in parliament and legislative assemblies”.Charles Dias, president of the Federation of Anglo-Indian Associations in India, who organized the protest, said it was “sad and unfortunate” that Anglo-Indians would lose their nominated seats from this year.
“On Jan. 2, parliament passed the Constitution (126th Amendment) Bill extending reservation for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes but doing away with the provision for nomination of Anglo-Indians to the Lok Sabha [upper house of parliament] and some state assemblies,” said the former MP.“The federal law and justice minister stated in parliament that, as per the census of 2011, the number of Anglo-Indians in the country is just 296 and the Anglo-Indians are ‘well-off’. This statement is against facts.
”Dias pointed out that the denial of representation is an injustice to Anglo-Indians. He requested the government to revoke the decision and do justice to the community which has contributed much to the development of the country. He also reminded the government of the various contributions of Anglo-Indians to defense, sports, nursing and education.
Parliament comprises the Lok Sabha (lower house), Rajya Sabha (upper house) and the president. There can be maximum of 552 members (530 states, 20 union territories and two Anglo-Indians) for the Lok Sabha, but only 543 members are elected from different states and if no member of the Anglo-Indian community is elected among the 543, then the president can elect two members of the community.Paternal ancestorsAccording to Article 366 (2) of the constitution, an Anglo-Indian is considered someone who lives in India and whose father or any male ancestors have European lineage.
This term is mainly used for British people who work in India and belong to the Indian origin community.The term Anglo-Indian was defined in theGovernment of India Act, 1935, as “a person whose father or any of his male progenitors in the male line is of European descent but who is a native of India.”Anglo-Indians are the only community that has its own representatives nominated to the Lok Sabha.
The community is represented by two members because the community has no native state of its own.States like Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Kerala also have a nominated member each in their respective state legislatures.Currently, there are two Anglo-Indian MPs from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha.
They are Richard Hay from Kerala and George Baker from West Bengal.Hibi Eden, an MP from Ernakulam, Kerala, requested the government reconsider its decision as in his constituency alone there are more than 40,000 Anglo-Indians and he knows very well their economic and educational situation.“I know them personally as I have studied in their school.
What the government claims about their population as 296 is not correct,” said Eden.“The population of Anglo-Indians in the country is about 400,000 and the Ministry of Minority Affairs in its report has categorically identified some of the pertinent issues of the Anglo-Indian community.”A government report published in 2013 noted that “amongst the various challenges and problems being faced by members of the Anglo-Indian community in India, the more significant ones are related to identity crisis, lack of employment, educational backwardness, lack of proper facilities and cultural erosion.”Derek O’Brien, a member of the Rajya Sabha, said that given their substantial contribution to the country Anglo-Indians deserve to be represented in parliament and legislative assemblies as their scattered nature has hindered them from getting an elected seat in the law-making bodies.
”The generous framers of our constitution provided the community with representation considering the great contribution of the community to the country. The present government is anti-people and does not want poor Dalits, tribals and minority communities to come up in their lives,” said the MP from West Bengal.