The All-India Anglo Indian Association on Tuesday started an online petition on Change.org urging the Indian government to reconsider its decision regarding the nomination of members of the community to the Lok Sabha and state legislatures.
The Lok Sabha on Tuesday approved a bill to extend the reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies for 10 years, PTI reported. However, the Narendra Modi government has done away with a similar quota for the Anglo-Indian community. The quota is set to expire on January 25, 2020. The bill will next go to the Rajya Sabha.
Out of the 543 elected seats in the Lok Sabha, 84 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 47 for Scheduled Tribes. Two members are nominated from the Anglo-Indian community, making the strength of the House 545. In 13 state assemblies, one member is nominated.
“The founding fathers of our Constitution under the leadership of Dr BR Ambedkar included this provision [representation of the community in legislatures] after a significant majority of Anglo-Indians, led by Mr Frank Anthony, himself a member of the Constituent Assembly, chose to live in independent India and swear allegiance to the country of their birth,” the association wrote in its petition. “We, Anglo-Indians, have been fiercely loyal to our beloved India and have made a significant contribution to nation building in various fields, including the Armed Forces, education, the Indian Railways, Police, Customs, Post & Telegraph, nursing and other strategic services.”
While the community may be small in number, it contributes “significantly in the building of modern India through hundreds of Anglo-Indian schools spread across the country”, it said, adding that their schools were the most sought after by people from all walks of life to “excel in the report card of life”.
It added: “This clearly demonstrates the huge influence this small community has and the massive contribution it is making. Hundreds of thousands of children - Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, besides our own Christian children, are nurtured into becoming caring, well rounded citizens of India.”
The association asked to meet the government so that they could explain the reasons for the need to continue to nominate Anglo Indian representatives to legislatures. “We will also share with you our sense of anguish and why we are so deeply disturbed and disillusioned,” they said.
The community had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, days before the bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha. In that letter, the association’s president, Barry O’Brien, said the community was stumped by the suddenness of this move, especially without consulting them.
“Nor has a justification been offered before going in for this amendment,” the letter said. “Why has the community been kept completely in the dark? What is the reason behind taking such a step? What facts and figures, data and research material have been collected and collated, based on which the cabinet has taken its decision?”
It added: “Is it true that the government is estimating the number of Anglo-Indians in India today to be far less than its actual number of several lakhs? And if indeed that is true, how has that grossly incorrect and inaccurate figure been arrived at?’’
While introducing the bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that there are only 296 Anglo Indians in the country now. But members have said the figure was misleading and there were, in fact, lakhs of Anglo Indians living in India.