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Christians back Anglo-Indian quota in parliament

Tiny community of British-Indian mixed ancestry and British descent says it is being denied rightful representation

Father Nicholas Dias (right), chaplain for the Anglo-Indian community, leading the prayer at the protest march in New Delhi on Oct 9

Father Nicholas Dias (right), chaplain for the Anglo-Indian community, leading the prayer at the protest march in New Delhi on Oct 9. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)

Published: October 10, 2022 06:23 AM GMT

Updated: October 10, 2022 06:40 AM GMT

Indian Christian leaders joined a protest by the microscopic Anglo-Indian community in the national capital New Delhi demanding the reinstatement of the minority's  representation in parliament and legislative assemblies.

The protesters wanted the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revoke a 2020 constitutional amendment it carried out, which ended the special provision.

“We have been demanding our rights,” said Gilbert Faria, coordinator of the Federation of Anglo-Indian Associations in India and one of the organizers of the protest on Oct. 9.

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Since India became a republic in 1950, a constitutional provision allowed special representation for the Anglo-Indian community — people of British descent born or residing in the country — in India’s parliament and state legislators to protect their interests.

The provision entitled members of the predominantly Christian community to be nominated to two seats in the Indian parliament and one each to 13 state assemblies, where they have a sizeable presence.

The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government through a constitutional amendment on Jan 25, 2020, withdrew this provision. It cited the 2011 census report that said there were only 296 Anglo-Indians left in the country and are well off. 

"There is nobody to listen and redress their grievances"

Faria contested the government’s contention. He argued that Anglo-Indians numbered more than 400,000 spread all over the country.

He hoped the government will grant their demand and restore representation to the community which had contributed immensely to the welfare and progress of the nation, especially in the fields of defense, communications, sports, education and healthcare.

Darryl Dick, chief organizer of the Delhi-based Anglo-Indian Association said: “Social welfare schemes need to be made available. They (Anglo-Indians) require scholarships and job reservations as there is nobody to listen and redress their grievances.”

Speaking at the protest venue, Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto of Delhi assured that “the entire Christian community in the national capital as well as in the country is with the Anglo-Indian community.”

A.C. Michael, president of the Federation of Catholic Associations of Archdiocese of Delhi, said denying representation to the community is equivalent to denying rights to Christians as most of the Anglo Indians are Christians.

The Constitution of India provided representation considering the members of the community are far and few, scattered all over the country, and cannot win elections. However, their voice needed to be heard in the lawmaking bodies of the country.

The problems related to the Anglo-Indian community are complex, say their representatives while pointing to a study conducted by the Federal Ministry of Minority Affairs in 2013 revealing several of the community’s problems including educational, financial and cultural.

The detailed study also suggested remedial measures including constituting an Anglo-Indian Commission to end the community’s economic backwardness and socio-cultural erosion.

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1 Comments on this Story
CHHOTEBHAI
This provision was for 10 years only and extended from time to time. It is incorrect to describe this as a Christian issue, as Eurasians are not defacto Christians.

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