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‘Chronology samajh lijiye’: Real fear looms large

Anglo-Indians worried attack on autonomy will follow abolition of reservation

By Jhinuk Mazumdar in Calcutta
  • Published 8.01.20, 3:05 AM
  • Updated 8.01.20, 3:05 AM
  • 2 mins read
Heads of schools enact their concern about the removal of Anglo-Indian representation in legislatures during a conference at La Martiniere for Boys on Tuesday. Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha

Anglo-Indian reservation in legislatures has been abolished; a threat to school autonomy will follow and then an all-out attack on English education — school heads from across India voiced concern over the possible chronology of events on the sidelines of a conference on Tuesday.

School heads from various parts of India spoke about what they thought would be the nature of the assault on their rights. “That could well be the chronology of events, given the way things are moving,” a school principal from another state said.

Union home minister Amit Shah’s infamous remark “Aap chronology samajh lijiye (Understand the chronology)” had confirmed for many the fear that the Centre did not want to treat all its citizens equally.

“First, it will be the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill... then it will be the National Register of Citizens. Understand the chronology,” Shah had said.

The revocation of reservation of Anglo-Indians in legislatures was discussed on several occasions at the 98th annual conference of the Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools in India hosted by the Bengal branch in the city over the past four days.

Several school heads said abolition of reservation for the Anglo-Indian community was tantamount to “snatching their voice”. “This fear (of revocation of Anglo-Indian seats) has been looming large. When you start infringing upon minority rights, you don’t know where it will end,” said Father Rodney Borneo, the principal of Loyola High School.

“No reservation would mean no Anglo-Indian voice in Parliament or in state legislatures. And that would mean any legislation can be passed. No one will be there to speak for Anglo-Indians,” said a principal of a school in Tamil Nadu.

“Depriving Anglo-Indians of representation in Parliament is ultimately aimed at weakening English education in the country. It could well be part of an attempt to replace English with Hindi. The imposition of Hindi has faced resistance from the south,” he said.

The heads of schools enacted a play on the abolition of nomination. “We are worried. We don’t know what’s going to happen. Is it leading to something bad for our schools? I thought the play was a good way to reassure people that we can seek legal recourse and I also wanted young people’s views to know if they are worried about it,” said Gillian Rosemary Hart, the principal of Welland Gouldsmith School, Bowbazar.

A principal from another south Indian state said there was fear of an attempt to change the “character” of the Anglo-Indian schools. “We are known not just for focusing on academics but putting equal stress on sports, extra-curricular activities and having an egalitarian approach, All of it could be under threat,” said the principal.

“We see a continued attack on minorities and a trend that is worrying. We are also worried about the draft National Education Policy that could mean one unified board. We are worried because 90 per cent of our schools are affiliated to the ICSE council,” said Francis Gomes, the principal of Park English School.

The principal of another city school feared it would take away “autonomy” to recruit their own teachers.

The founder principal of a school in Uttar Pradesh echoed the fear. “I started the school with a vision. If the government is to interfere and call the shots, it will be with a different vision and there will be a clash of visions,” said the principal.

St Xavier’s University vice-chancellor Father Felix Raj had earlier said Anglo-Indian reservation in legislatures was being “rather maliciously, even fraudulently” abolished.