Chennai: The Anglo-Indian community has urged the Centre to give it separate minority status and take steps to restore reservation to it in Parliament and State Assemblies for a ten year period. In December 2019, the Lok Sabha had unanimously passed a Constitution amendment bill to extend reservation to SCs and STs in the lower house and state assemblies by another 10years even though the benefit was not extended to the Anglo-Indian community.
Expressing concern over the diminishing significance to the community in the country, the Federation of Anglo-Indian Associations in India has demanded that the Centre confer separate minority status, besides restoring the Parliamentary quota. A separate minority status could be granted by amending the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, as done for the Jain Community in 2014, to protect the ethnic, linguistic tradition and culture of the Anglo-Indian community, the memorandum sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said.
It was sent to Modi by the vice president of the Federation, Augustine Roy Rozario. Anglo-Indians in India deserve separate minority status, as despite being Christians by religion, they have different ethnic and linguistic characteristics, follow a different tradition and maintain a unique culture different from the rest of the population with English as their language, it said.
Thus they fall within the criteria of the UN General Assembly Resolution of 1992 to be classified as a separate minority other than religious basis as Christians, the association stated. Also immediate steps should be taken to restore and extend a special reservation to Anglo-Indian members in the Parliament and state Assemblies under Article 334 (b) for a decade from January 26, 2020, that was shelved in the 126thConstitutional Amendment Bill 2019, based on the 2011 Census.
According to the memorandum, the Congress-led UPA regime had "erroneously enumerated the Anglo Indians as 296" in the2011 census, while in reality there were around four lakh persons in the community spread across 16 states. "The erroneous enumeration as 296 occurred in the 2011Census because the majority of the Anglo-Indians were enumerated under the Christian religion." "Also, there was no separate column in the Census forms for enumerating Anglo-Indians separately, as only the notified minority communities like Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains find place for separate enumeration along with the SC&ST Communities as per Census results," Rozario told PTI.
Last year, during the debate on the Constitution (126th)Amendment Bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said the doors were not shut and the matter to grant Anglo-Indians nomination would be considered. The reservation for SCs, STs and Anglo-Indians given for the past 70 years in Lok Sabha and state assemblies was originally slated to end on January 25, 2020, following which the lower house passed the Constitution amendment bill to extend reservation to SCs and STs by another 10 years in December 2019.