The article in The Hindu on May 31, 2013 by Ajaz Ashraf (Op-Ed, “An Anglo-Indian insurance policy”) has raised some issues which are pertinent but has some misleading statistics. First of all, the Anglo-Indian population in the country is about 4 1/2 lakhs whereas Mr. Ashraf has stated it to be 1 1/2 lakhs. The Anglo-Indians are an Indian community clearly defined as per Article 366 (2) of the Constitution of India and they have no hesitation in saying that they are “Indians.” Some first generation British descendants who wanted to migrate to England may have stated that their home is England. But, the real fact is that the Constitution defines the community as the “descendants of Europeans,” not British. The community has a history of 500 years since the arrival of the Portuguese.
The generous framers of our Sacred Constitution provided Articles 331 and 333 mainly on one situation as the community cannot win a parliamentary seat or an Assembly seat through an election. Anglo-Indians are scattered all over India. There were yet other reasons, I understand, to provide these reservations. Their great contributions to establish the Railways, Post & Telegraph, Defence and Nursing services to name a few, which they did far beyond their numerical strength. These departments acknowledge these facts. They are thankful to great statesmen like Jawaharlal Nehru and Ananthasayanam Ayyangar for their generous gesture of providing Articles 331 and 333, through which the community could voice its grievances in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies. Mr. Ashraf has conveniently forgotten that there are parliamentary constituencies where the number of voters is below one lakh (Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, etc).
Issues before the community
The minorities are at the mercy of the majority communities. I have raised many issues pertaining to the Anglo-Indian community in Parliament, with very little relief obtained. The economic and educational conditions of the Anglo-Indian community have deteriorated. Housing is one of the grave problems the community faces. I have demanded this: “to appoint a Special Officer and study the situation and problems of Anglo-Indians in the country.”
If politicians have misused this nomination, the community is not at fault. It is our firm stand that “the person nominated should be a person with a record of service to the community, enjoys majority support of the community, is well-aware of the problems of the community and has the backing of an established Anglo-Indian Association.” It is only then that he or she can claim that he/she is the true representative of the community. Precisely. The government has to follow “democratic norms” in nomination. It is usual that during the time of nomination, self-styled leaders and paper organisations appear to claim this nomination. The government has to verify this.
The various Anglo-Indian organisations in India have come forward and decided to work together to prioritise their grievances and raise the issues before the respective governments. They have formed the Federation of Anglo-Indian Associations in India, a registered body with its headquarters in Bangalore. The so-called “Anglo-Indian Nomination Action Committee,” as mentioned by Mr. Ashraf, is a joke being perpetrated by vested interests The Anglo-Indian organisations in Karnataka with a long history of service to the community are unaware of such a “committee.” I would request the Government of Karnataka to nominate a person with a record of service to the community and who enjoys majority support, discarding the bogus claims of the opportunists and do justice to its members.
(Dr. Charles Dias is Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ajaz Ashraf's response