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The Hara-kiri of Hubris

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We, the Government

By HUGH & COLLEEN GANTZER

Hara-kiri is ritual suicide driven by a sense of honour. Hubris is self- destructive pride. We have seen examples of both in recent weeks, and they have affected us, and our state. The Garhwal Post of 13-12-’19 carried an interesting article on Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien. The MP asked why the government had not extended the reserved seats for Anglo-Indians to Parliament and the state legislatures. We shall restrict this column to the baseless reasons given by a senior politician for the withdrawal of this right. That exalted netaji said that the total number of our community, Anglo- Indians, in India was just 296 individuals. The source of this statistic, allegedly, was the 2011 Census of India. That assumption is flawed because:- The Census takers were not authorised to ask a voter about his or her community. This query was removed from the census questionnaire many years ago. Why was this deleted question asked? And did all census takers ask this question? Because if all census takers did not ask this question, how were these answers foisted off as national statistics? How was this inexplicable figure of 296 Anglo- Indians arrived at? That was the First Fallacy. Others followed. The Second Fallacy: Uttarakhand was listed as having no Anglo-Indians at all. Really? We are an Anglo-Indian couple who live in Mussoorie. Our personal multi-ethnicity, as Anglo- Indians, is an essential part of our creativity. It has enabled us to relate to every one of the other Indian communities we have interacted with during our 40 plus years of research across our superbly diverse land. Our community has made us singularly immune to social, dietary and religious taboos. We have visited shrines of many faiths, after declaring our own religion. Our taboo-free mores, we believe, have contributed enormously to the perspectives we have brought to our twenty-four published books, sixty TV documentaries, and vast body of articles carried in the international and national press. And yet our very existence as Anglo-Indians in Uttarakhand has been denied! Why? The extreme view is that this is just a feeler towards a larger, insidious, plan to remove the definition of Anglo-Indian from the Constitution! We don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories or extreme positions on anything, but we do recall that when we visited East Berlin, before the wall was demolished, we were told that the Nazis had declared many ethnic groups as “non-people”. Have those fiendish, self-styled “Aryan” bigots suddenly become shining objects of emulation? The Third Fallacy – If Uttarakhand has no Anglo-Indians, where have the Anglo-Indian families who run five very popular Anglo-Indian schools in Dehra gone? And if there are no Anglo-Indians in Uttarakhand, why has the government nominated a representative of the community to the Legislative Assembly? We were told, on good authority, that the neta who made this baseless statement in Parliament had not asked our benign CM. If that is true then that neta’s arbitrary action fits the dictionary definition of hubris. The Fourth Fallacy- The strange document quoted by the neta in Parliament also claimed that there were no Anglo-Indians in Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. Then, clearly, the sarkar erred grievously in nominating Anglo-Indian MLAs in those two states. If the votes of these MLAs tipped the balance in any matter then that result was not valid. Will our Law Ministry examine this critical issue with all haste and diligence? In fact there is a duty cast upon all MPs and MLAs to exercise what the judicial fraternity calls “application of mind”. In a lay person’s language, this is “a sense of responsibility”. When netas take decisions which affect the people who elected them, they should have the ability to respond to any questions raised about those decisions. That is what response-ability means. In other words, dear netaji, if you have such an inflated sense of your own importance that you don’t give a hoot about what We, the Government think, then you are suffering from a serious attack of hubris. Chest thumping, razzmatazz and hoopla may divert attention for a while but, sooner rather than later, reality will hit you. It has in Hong Kong and, more recently, much, much, closer to home! Do you really want to risk political Hara-kiri?