Dr. Edla (name changed) is associated with one of the Municipality-run hospitals in Mumbai, hesitates to disclose her Anglo Indian status. Born and raised in one of the eastern suburbs of Mumbai, Chembur, She expressed her surprise over the reporter as he knew Anglo Indian community. “Oh! You already knew about Anglo Indians. Very few people knew this “. The 25 somewhat Edla glowed face and voice eleted.
At the very outset, Dr Edla says, she avoids any discussion that moves around politics. ‘We have been part of India and our contributions are immense.’
Right from Education, Defence, Public services, Railways, Telephone, Tinsel town to Philanthropy our contributions are simply unmatched given the minuscule number of us in the country “, she says. Her voice wobbels between pride and dissapointment.
‘Patriotism and integrity runs in our blood,” she asserts. Though, her voice reflects a deep sense of hurt.
‘Some of the state of the art educational institutions have been meticulously crafted by a few shining lights of the community like Frank Anthony and A.E.T Barrow. ICSE came to its existence due to their endeavor.’
You know she chuckles, ‘Cricketers like Nasser Hussain and Roger Binny as well as Billiards champion Wilson Jones, besides Olympic medalist Norman Pritchard were the leading lights in the world of sports. Air Vice Marshal, Maurice Barker and Air Marshall Malcolm Wollen were a few prominent defence personnel that served the state with utmost integrity.’
‘The legendary Jungle Book penned by Joseph Rudyard Kipling, was also from our community. Ben Kingsley – the iconic thespian who essayed the towering architect of Indian democracy Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi in an eighties movie, ‘Gandhi’, and the queen of ‘film-dancing’ in Hindi cinema – Cuckoo Morey too are Anglo-Indians.’She continues in the same breath.
‘Our community stands tall when it comes to social service and national reconstruction. But, ironically, this has been reduced to a past’s lore and forgotten by the new generation’, Edla laments.
Edla, like many of her community members, tries to hide behind a latent veil of anguish and dread due to the recent political fireworks and socio-economic development. Notwithstanding, she remained calm and wore the mask of big smile that remains deceptive.
Facts on Anglo-Indian Nomination Issue
Dr. Charles Dias, former MP, President, (The Federation Of Anglo-Indian Associations in India) says, the generous framers of our sacred Constitution considered the contributions of Anglo-Indians in the field of education, defense services, sports, nursing, laying of railway and telegraph lines, etc. outnumbering their numerical strength, and of the complex situation of the community staying scattered all over the country and difficulty in maintaining their unique culture, language and social life. The then leaders were convinced of their disability to voice their opinion in the Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies as they cannot win a seat and as such provided Article 331 and 333 to give them representation in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies. A reading of Article 331 shows:-
“…the President may, if he is of opinion that the Anglo-Indian community is not adequately represented in the House of People, nominate not more than two members of that community to the House of People”.
In the 17th Lok Sabha no Anglo-Indian is elected. So, the situation of ‘not adequately represented’ applies here. Besides, according to reports, the government’s stand is ‘the community is doing well and does not need reservation in the Legislature’. This is against the very study and factual reports of the government.
The Ministry of Minority Affairs had categorically identified some of the pertinent issues of Anglo-Indian community, in a report published in 2013 which mentions:- Charles was one of the members of this fact finding team
“It is observed 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 (1) identity crisis, (ii) lack of employment, (iii) educational backwardness, (iv) lack of proper facilities and; (v) cultural erosion.”
In 2009 when the Bill for 95th Amendment of the Constitution was introduced in Parliament, the reason stated by the Law Minister was:-
‘…. the reasons which weighed with the Constituent Assembly in making provisions with regard to the aforesaid reservation of seats and nomination of members, have not ceased to exist. It is, therefore, proposed to continue the reservation for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and the representation of Anglo-Indians by nomination for a further period of ten years’
The situation of the four lakhs Anglo-Indian community has not changed as per the findings of the Ministry of Minority Affairs in 2013. Then how can the Central government claim that ‘the community is doing well’ ? The microscopic minority of Anglo-Indians are struggling to survive amidst problems peculiar to them. The Anglo-Indian community is going through a tough period in their history as their very existence is being challenged now. Anglo-Indians being an urban community is disabled to concentrate in a particular area as most of them are staying in rented houses and with the kind of growth of Indian cities the community is now unable to buy houses and settle in a particular area. As a result, their cultural identity, social life and language are disturbed. Economic constrains and educational disabilities have caused severe hindrance for the advancement of Anglo-Indian community. Our proposals for allocating lands for houses and Community cum Skill Development Centers are still pending with the Central government Ministries. The other proposals in the report of the Ministry of Minority Affairs to improve the conditions of Anglo-Indians are not addressed by various ministries of the Government for reasons better known to them. The logo in the website of the Ministry of Minority Affairs shows Mahatma Gandhiji’s words:-
“A civilization can be judged by the way it treats it’s minorities”
Practically, the move of the Government to deny nominations of Anglo-Indians to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies is an injustice and cruelty to a weak minority.
Now, the question of extension of nominations to Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies as per Article 331 and 333 respectively depends on the extension of Article 334. Several memoranda were given to the Hon’ble President of India, Prime Minister, and Ministers for Home, Law, and Minority Affairs etc. in this regard by the Federation of Anglo-Indian Associations in India which comprises of 14 various State level organizations.
The Anglo-Indian organizations in the country express their concern over the Central government’s move to do away with Article 344 Sub Clause B to deny Anglo-Indian representation in Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies.
It raises anxiety among the Anglo-Indians in the country as the term expires in 2020. It is our wish and prayer that, Article 334 be extended and continue the facilities for nominations of Anglo-Indians to Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies as they have only this forum to voice and redress their grievances.
The fear has gripped old senior citizen of Anglo Indian Community
Santoshi Gulabkali Mishra
THREE Old men residing in the heart of the city have developed so much fear that they have stopped communicating with people other than Anglo -Indians.
They live under the name of Stranger’s Home which is supported by the Mumbai Relief Society Association for Anglo Indians. A spacious flat in the vicinity of Byculla near Gloria Church has set of Anglo -Indians who due to their age are little awkward in behavioural pattern..
When I phoned on the landline, a senior citizen Patrick Feritos (name changed on request ) spoke that he is not happy about the Constitution (123th) Bill ,2019 passed in Loksabha.
Wendell very immediately gave me the appointment of Sunday with instructions that I can visit him after his mass (offering prayers in Church) and breakfast.
I was sharp at 11.30am waiting outside Darshan Tower in Love Lane at Byculla for some Mr Patrick to open the door.
It was almost half an hour passed none were coming to door although I could here some commotion .
Again , I phone on landline and Mr Patrick came on the line and opened the door.
A huge drawing room with clothes hanging around , another old man who did not wish to share his name, asked me to sit on dinning table..
Mr Patrick , came and greeted with firm grip and asked me to keep my phone aside .
He said, ” I have learnt that BJP and RSS wants to throw Anglo Indians out of country. Hope you are not their spy. I trust you.”
This trust word in meant a lot and I immediately switched off my mobile. He was relaxed a bit..
” They don’t want our representative in Parliament and state Assembly . They feel that we are not Indians , I have strong feeling that they would start coming our this shelter home and may throw us out .Look, my father was in Army and my mother was nurse in St George hospital and we chose India. We write “Anglo-Indian” none in the country have this privileged. We are Indians,” he added.
The techno savy Mr Patrick shown me his social media accounts. Started showing some messages which claimed that something against his own community.
Patrick a well built and worked in Indian Railways as an Engineer all the time kept repeating not to share his address and disclose his identity to anyone.
The other two companion with Wendell started shouting on him . A commotion and heated argument had started among three on why to share this crucial information with someone . A very old man on bed, Wendell told me his name as ‘Ardit ‘ asked me to leave immediately as he feared that now they are only 296 as per claimed by the Registrar of India they will have to go to their fatherland.
He told they get some pension from Mumbai Relief Association monthly about Rs. 500-1200 which is nothing as they cannot cook food and need domestic helps for house chores. Plus medical assistance is their main concern and live with each other although sometimes dont like the company..
Patrick claims that Ardit is 90 years old and usually bed-ridden thus they need more of love and bonding than anything else.
Ardit , has no one in his family and wants to die in his motherland, India.
History of Anglo Indian’s nominations in Indian Parliament and state legislative assemblies
The Portuguese came to Malabar in 1498 for the trade of spices. The Dutch, French and British followed and they all married women from India and their progenies later were categorized as Anglo-Indians. When India became independent, the community was defined in Article 366 (2) . They contributed much in various spheres of life that enriched the country.
Unlike other minorities and disadvantaged groups like SC, ST, etc., the Anglo Indians aren’t covered by any similar reservations in jobs and services.
Anglo-Indians, who were scattered all over the country in the operation of railway, had no particular area or State to claim of their own. Keeping this in mind, the architect of Constitution provided representation for them in the Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies through Articles 331 and 333.
Article 334 sub section A stipulates reserved constituencies for Scheduled Castes and Tribes for stipulated years. Through Article 334 sub section B, reserved seats in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies were provided for stipulated periods for Anglo-Indians. As such Article 334 Sub Sections A and B were extended up to 25th January 2020 by 95th Constitutional amendment. But now, the present Government has brought out 126th Constitutional amendment to extend only for Article 334 sub section A. The reasons mentioned by the government for not extending Article 334 Sub Section B is that, the Anglo-Indians are ‘well off and they do not require reserved seats’ through nomination. This is strange. A plain reading of Article 331 shows that :
“…………if the Anglo-Indian community is not ‘adequately represented’ in the House of people……..the President may nominate not more than two Anglo-Indians ………..’
Ironically, there is no Anglo-Indian elected to 17th Lok Sabha! So the above situation goes in favour of nomination of Anglo-Indians to Lok Sabha.
The Anglo-Indians face several disabilities including unemployment, financial and educational disabilities and cultural erosion. Most of them are staying in rented houses. All these are mentioned in the Report of the Ministry of Minority Affairs prepared in 2013. The statistics of their population figures mentioned in the Parliament and their representation in various constitutional fora by responsible ministers have flummoxed us. The four lakhs Anglo-Indians are scattered all over the country but ironically, the community is under-represented in the Lok Sabha as well as the State Legislative Assemblies. One can only wonder that without studying the real population figures and their social, educational and financial status , how can the Government deny a weak microscopic minority of a Constitutional guarantee provided by the founding fathers of our Constitution. It is only just , the Government extend the nominations to Anglo-Indians.
Spread of Anglo-Indian Population in India 2017
West Bengal 45,000
Utter Pradesh 15,000
Total population 3,47,000
About 50,000 are scattered all over the country in other States and Union Territories including Goa.
The All India Anglo-Indian Association counts only British descendants as Anglo-Indians. But , the Federation of Anglo-Indian Associations in India which includes 14 constituent Associations from various States counts all European descendants as that is the correct criteria as per Article 366 (2).
Article 366 (2)
“An Anglo-Indian “ means a person whose father or any of whose other male progenitors in the male line is or was of European descent but who is domiciled within the territory of India and is or was born within such territory of parents habitually resident therein and not established there for temporary purpose only.
(M S & Jawed Khurshid)
Is Anglo Indian Community paying the price of being in their Motherland today?
The All-India Anglo-Indian Association (AIAIA) President, Barry O’Brian along with other the most active organizations of the Anglo-Indian community is deeply distressed and anguished at the decision of the Government of India to end representation in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.
The Association officer bearer feel that despite being representatives in state assemblies and Lok Sabha hardly things could happen. The Community needs strong financial background to survive.
The All India Anglo Indian Association has rejected the claim made in the Parliament that the number of Anglo-Indians has shrunken to 296 whereas the association claims that the population is not less than 4 lakhs and spread across the country.
Shane Calvert , MLA of the Anglo-Indian Community from Kolkata gave an insight of the present scenario of the Community, Calvert said, ” The report of Registrar General of India is factually incorrect in representating one community . The population of Anglo-Indian Community is approximately 4 lakhs and they are spread across in large number in cities like Kolkata, Utrakhand, Maharashtra and even in Uttarpradesh. The data available and presented in Parliament is completely baseless. Also the community is marginally improved in terms economic basis. “
In the recent meeting of All India Anglo Indian Association , they stated and decided to (i) To seek an appointment with and send a delegation to meet the Honourable President of India, the Prime Minister and Home Minister of India and appeal to them to reconsider this amendment to the Constitution that has left the community shattered. (ii) To set up a Constitutional Advisory Team to look into all matters related to our rights and the assurances laid down down in the Constitution of India.
(iii) To set up a team of representatives of educational institutions and professionals with legal acumen to safeguard the autonomy and minority rights of our institutions. (iv) To set up an overall Coordination Team on other matters concerning the community, particularly those related to social welfare, senior citizens and our youth.
General secretary of the All-India Anglo-Indian Association, Rudolf Woodman said, “There are many issues which need to be highlighted, including the community’s well-being and the Centre’s move to end reservations.”
Wendell Day a retired Anglo-Indian residing in a shelter-home for Anglo Indian Community said,”This decision has brought in fear to me. I had decided to stay back in India it’s my Motherland. Like me many senior citizens didn’t opt for Fartherland. Now we can not be sandwiched between the politics of fatherland and Motherland.”
Victor Freitas ex- MLA from the Anglo Indian community said,”The reservation is necessary for the jobs in railways, Ports and other government institutions for the Community.”