December 10, 2019
Saugata Roy speaks on The Constitution (126th Amendment) Bill, 2019
Sir, I rise to speak on The Constitution (126th Amendment) Bill, 2019. I start my speech by paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, Dr BR Ambedkar, Jagjivan Ram and other leaders of the scheduled caste and other communities of this country.
Sir, this Bill has two parts in which two of our speakers will speak. One part deals with the extension of reservation to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for another 10 years from 2020. The second part deals with taking away the reservation under Article 334 to the Anglo-Indian community.
I fully support the extension of reservation in Parliament and Assemblies to members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. There are 20 crore Scheduled Caste and 10 crore Scheduled Tribe people in the country. They must have their proper representation in all the legislative bodies.
Sir, I must mention in this context the strict injustice that is being done to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The West Bengal Governor is not sending the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission Bill to the West Bengal Assembly. The House was adjourned last week for this. Sir, this is a great humiliation to the SC and ST communities. I would urge the West Bengal Governor to change his ways.
Sir having said that let me concentrate on this Bill. Sunil Mondal of our party will speak about the part regarding the extension of reservation for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. There is all round support for the same. We have not yet been able to remove the disparities that exists in society.
Hon’ble Member Kanimozhi mentioned the humiliation faced by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes people in the country. Still ST people in the jungles of Bastar are going to the mountains because they are not receiving justice from our society. These are matters which should be dealt with in great detail.
I totally object to the government’s effort to obliterate the representation of one community and for this Hon’ble Minister has taken recourse to false reports from the Registrar General of India saying that there are only 296 Anglo-Indians in this country. Throw away the report of the Registrar General! It is totally incorrect.
There are several lakh Anglo-Indians in the country and they are spread all over the country. They are there spread from Thirvanthapuram to Dehradun. They live in as many as 22 of the 28 states and 9 Union Territories of India. They have contributed greatly to the development of the country.
Sir, you must read one book by John Masters, it’s called Bhowani Junction. It is about the trials and tribulations of the Anglo-Indian community at the time of Partition. They didn’t know which way they would go. But Anglo-Indians led by Frank Anthony, who was a Member of the Constituent Assembly, pledged to remain in India, because Constituent Assembly gave them the reservation of two seats in the Parliament and one seat each in 13 Legislative Assemblies. The Law Minister, at one stroke of the pen, wants to take away what was given by Dr Ambedkar. What Dr Ambedkar gave, Ravi Shankar Prasad seeks to take away, that is very unfortunate.
Sir, I have mentioned that the government did not want to consult the representatives of the Anglo-Indian community on this step. But 13 States are involved; Bengal is one of them. There is a representation of one person in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly they did not talk or consult with the West Bengal Government at all, whether it is necessary to take away this thing.
Sir, if I may say that Anglo-Indians have played a great role in the Army. We had General Rodrigues as the Chief of the Army Staff. They are in the Armed Forces, Education, Indian Railways, Police, Customs, Post and Telegraph, Nursing and several other strategic services.
Sir, you know that not only the Army, the Air Force also had Chief of Air Staff from the Anglo-Indian community. Sir, you may have heard of Leslie Claudius, a four-time Olympian, he was from Kolkata and he has captained the Indian Hockey team in Rome Olympics.
Sir, the greatest contribution of the Anglo- Indians is education. There are hundreds of Anglo-Indian schools under the ICSE Board spread across the country. They are most sought after, even BJP leaders would like to put their children in Anglo-Indian schools. These schools have given us corporate leaders, politicians, bureaucrats, athletes, academicians and people from all walks of life.
Hundreds and thousands of children, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, besides the Christian children are nurtured into becoming caring, all rounded citizens of India. There are several lakhs of Anglo-Indians who are proud citizens of this great nation. Sir I will invite you to Bow Street of Kolkata in Sudip Bandhyapadhyay’s constituency during Christmas. Thousands of Anglo-Indians would gather there to celebrate Christmas. Anjan Dutta made a film ‘Bow Barracks Forever’ about them. It has heritage structures. And only in Bow Barracks, thousands of Anglo-Indian come. The minister concerned says that there are only 296 Anglo-Indians and the minister is an honourable man; so are all of the members. So I come to speak against obliteration of a community, which has given this representation at the time of Independence, at the time of the Constitution. They adopt the India as their home.
Sir I wind up. I will request the minister that there are two parts of the Bill. Pass the part related to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Drop the part related to Anglo Indians. Do not obliterate. They are proud people. May be their only fault is they are Christian. The Government thought just like they brought the law yesterday, they can tell the country, “See we have Hindu consolidation. Chhristians have been deprived of their rights.” This is not the way to go. They forget that it is India that consists of different religions.
Tagore in his famous poem, which become the National Anthem, mentioned:
অহরহ তব আহ্বান প্রচারিত, শুনি তব উদার বাণী
হিন্দু বৌদ্ধ শিখ জৈন পারসিক মুসলমান খৃস্টানী
পূরব পশ্চিম আসে তব সিংহাসন-পাশে
প্রেমহার হয় গাঁথা।
জনগণ-ঐক্য-বিধায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!
জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয়, জয় হে ॥
Mind you, Hindus and Buddhists, Jains and Parsis, Muslim and Christians – they are part of the country too. This is the later part of Jana Gana Mana.
Sir, let us talk of let everybody in the big pilgrimage, that is India. Let the BJP change their point of view and take India as a ‘Bharat Tirtha’ which is a pilgrimage place. I again support the extension of reservation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and totally denounce taking away representative character of Anglo-Indians.