Shrimati ( Mrs) Hedwig Michael Rego,
Mr. Deputy Speaker,
Sir, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to address this august House. While I support the Motion on the Demand for Grants, I wish to draw the attention of the Government to the plight of the Anglo-Indian community regarding education and employment.
Under Article 338 of our Constitution, a National Commission was to be formed to project and safeguard the rights of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, the Backward Classes and also the Anglo-Indian community. Unfortunately, for us while the other communities retain their reservation, the withdrawal for Anglo-Indians has led to a steady slipping away into educational, economic and social degeneration in the last twenty five years. Twenty five years ago, we had distinguished ourselves in all Services as we are a Service-oriented community. We excel in defence services, medical services, education, central services, the railway, telegraph, nursing, teaching and secretarial work. We are second to none and we happen to be the community who produced the first Anglo-Indian person, Norman Pritchard, who brought home to our country, the first two Olympic silver medals way back in 1900 at the Paris Olympics for the 200 metres hurdles and dash.
Today, we are a struggling community. We are basically an urban community numbering not more than 1,20,000 in the entire country out of a population of over 950 million people. We are struggling to survive, and to retain our culture, our language and our discipline which has touched all communities in this country. While large numbers are found in urban areas, we have nine states where you find us very prominently situated and in each of these states, we have Constitutional representation for members in the Assembly. As a representative of this community in this august House, I wish to draw the attention of the Government to three main problems that we face today. These are closely connected and I will mention them very briefly: Education, Employment and Housing.
In education, Karnataka is the only state which has given the community educational concessions. Our community in Karnataka get their fees reimbursed right up to graduation level. We are also given reserved seats in medicine, engineering, polytechnic and nursing. Since education is a Concurrent subject, I request our Government to prevail upon all the other states to introduce similar concessions to our community. I ask for free and compulsory education for all Anglo-Indians upto the High School. I wish to draw the attention of the Government to private schools working under the Anglo-Indian code where the teachers are being exploited and very few Anglo-Indian children attend these schools. While, the trainer or the teacher, is neglected the trainees or students show remarkable progress. The teachers administer the minds and hearts of students through critical years and they instil values in them. Teachers must be treated as a part of management and they must be on par with Junior Administrative Officers. They must get a decent living wage with all the allowances and benefits an Officer gets with regard to basic salary, D.A, housing, medical and pension facilities. I ask the Central Government to match grants given to the States equally in the field of education. Being an urban community, we are slowly being pushed out of the periphery of the cities and landing up at the borders due to economic pressure. This makes it difficult for our students to attend schools. Hence, we have many drop-outs. I call upon this Government to help us with housing programmes for the needy and the homeless with assistance to purchase houses over a period of time to help us live in regular homes with dignity. In all the State Housing Schemes, I ask for a small allotment to the community on a regular basis.
About employment, here again, I call upon the Government to arrange special educational programmes to attract talent into the Armed Forces which was once our bastion where we proved our devotion to duty and allegiance to this country where many of our boys laid down their lives. I ask for resumption of seats of seats in the Defence and Central Services, Medical Services, Teacher Training Colleges and Polytechnics. I only ask for a few seats since we are indeed a microscopic community.
Before I conclude I would like to remind this august House that the Anglo-Indians are not foreigners in this country. We are proud to be the only community to have the word INDIAN in our name. We look to the future with hope and a prayer that our government will recognize our contribution and heed our pleas so that our community receives the benefits that are due to us as a minority community.
With these words, I conclude.
Mrs. Rego did her schooling in Hyderabad and settled in Bangalore in 1963, After her Teacher's Training at Church Park in Madras, she went on to complete her post-graduation in History. For the next 25 years she served as a dedicated teacher at The Frank Anthony Public Schools in Delhi and Bangalore. History, Geography and Civics were her fore and are serving her in good stead as she tackles constitutional procedure in Parliament.
Apart from being a parliamentarian, Mrs. Rego is a Board Member of the Archdiocesan Board of Education as well as a member of the Karnataka State Minority Commission. She has been a member of the All-India Anglo-Indian Association for the last 34 years and is a life member of the Anglo-Indian Guild. She is always readily available at the Anglo-Indian Guild Office whenever she is in Bangalore an believes that Anglo-Indians should be proud of their identity and assert themselves for a better future in India.
Mrs. Hedwig Rego, 21 Rest House Crescent, Bangalore 560 001. Ph: 080 5594276
Office: New Karnataka Bhavan, 6 Sardar PatelMarg, New Delhi 110021. Ph: 011 3794948
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