‘Injustice and cruelty’: Kerala Anglo-Indians on quota scrap in Parliament, assemblies

While Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Anglo-Indian population was a mere 296, the community says the figure could be more than a lakh in Kerala alone.
‘Injustice and cruelty’: Kerala Anglo-Indians on quota scrap in Parliament, assemblies
‘Injustice and cruelty’: Kerala Anglo-Indians on quota scrap in Parliament, assemblies
Written by:

Agitated over the Centre’s sudden decision to scrap their nominated representation in the Parliament and state assemblies, the Anglo-Indian community in Kerala is preparing for a mass protest in the coming weeks. 

It was recently that the Centre, through a bill, stopped the extension of reservation given to the Anglo-Indian community, which had allowed its members to be nominated to the Parliament and state assemblies. In the wave of mass agitations over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act across the country, the plight of this minority community, which has now lost its representation in the state and central government machinery, is yet to be echoed in the public domain. 

Drawing the attention of the public to the issue and as a mark of protest against the Centre, various organisations representing the Anglo-Indian community in Kerala have decided to conduct a mass protest march towards Raj Bhavan in the state capital on December 30. 

Speaking about the issue, leaders of various Anglo-Indian organisations in Kerala tell TNM that the Centre’s move is an injustice and cruelty towards their community.

“Though we never anticipated this kind of a blow towards the community, there were apprehensions from time to time seeing the anti-minority stand of the central government. But we never thought that the Centre would stop the extension of reservation given to Anglo-Indians along with Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes,” says Charles Dias, former Anglo-Indian MP who hails from Kochi. 

Reservation for both the Anglo-Indian community and SC/ST was due to expire on January 25, 2020. But extension of the reservation was given only for the SC/ST community and not for Anglo-Indians. 

“When Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, he said that minorities will be taken care of. What he is doing now is just the opposite of that. If he is a man of his word, then the reservation should be reinstated,” says Marshal, general secretary of the Union of Anglo-Indian Associations. 

Proclaiming solidarity with the state’s Anglo-Indian community, the Kerala Latin Catholic Association (KLCA) held a protest march in Kochi on Tuesday. 

“The BJP-led central government is reconstituting the Indian Constitution by taking a dig at the minorities in the country. The Anglo-Indian community is one of our counterparts, we stand in solidarity with them and demand that the reservation be reinstated as soon as possible,” says Babu Kaliparambil, general secretary of KLCA of the Cochin Diocese. KLCA also slammed the Centre’s attack on other minority communities through the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. 

‘Centre’s reasons are blatant lies’ 

One of the reasons the Centre cited for taking away the reservation for the community is that the Anglo-Indian population in India had dwindled to a mere 296 as per the 2011 census. But members of the community have rejected this claim outright, calling it hilarious. 

Though there are differences among various associations about the exact population figures, they uniformly state that the figure quoted by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was not factual. 

As per the Federation of Anglo-Indian Associations in India, there are at least 80,000 members in Kerala alone and more than 3.47 lakh members in the country, while the Union of Anglo-Indian Associations states that the figure could be more than a lakh in Kerala alone. 

“Another blatant lie they said was that we are ‘well off’. We have no idea what they meant by ‘well off’. But if they meant economic stability, on what basis is the Centre saying the community is well off? Just because a few members of the community are well-to-do, how can they generalise that the whole Anglo-Indian community is doing well financially? Have they conducted any study that shows this? How can they just cite unsubstantiated claims and reject what was our right?” asks Marshal. 

Meanwhile, according to the members, a study conducted by the UPA government back in 2013 on the socio-economic condition of the Anglo-Indian community in the country showed that the members are backward in education and economic conditions.

“This study was conducted while I was an MP, on our request. It clearly concludes three things – that the Anglo-Indian community faces an identity crisis, and economic and educational backwardness. So on what basis is the Centre now saying that the community members are well off?” asks Charles Dias, who is also the president of the Federation of Anglo-Indian Associations in India. 

What the community members have now lost is an assurance that their minority voices will be heard. “Anything that has happened for the community was through its nominated representatives in state assemblies and the Parliament. With the scrapping of reservation, what is lost is a voice for this minority community,” says Charles Dias.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute