Barry O’Brien’s book maps evolution of Anglo-Indian community : The Tribune India

Hugh and Colleen Gantzer

This is a book written to be a classic. The author of ‘The Anglo-Indians: A Portrait of a Community’, Barry O’Brien, is the president of the All-India Anglo-Indian Association. He divides the book into four parts, perhaps for ease of reference, but his work is completed by a formidable Index. We need to point out a comment in the first chapter, which is not valid. The first Anglo-Indians were not born “soon after the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama sailed to the shores of India”. Those people speak Portuguese. Today’s Anglo-Indians must have English as their mother tongue as mandated in the cases won by Frank Anthony and Nani Palkhivala.

According to Article 366 (2) of our Constitution, an Anglo-Indian is defined by his European family. In the cases won by Anthony and Palkhivala, there is a new requirement. Language has been added to the family. Anglo-Indian’s mother tongue must be English. While English is the mother tongue of an Indian community, English is an Indian language, the argument goes.

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By fighting for the stability of the English language in our country, the community has preserved a cultural heritage that has given Indian citizens more than powerful nations like China and Russia. So-called “English-medium” schools sprang up all over India and English became the language of the lower class and not the exclusive right of the rich and powerful.

English is more than a language. It is also a passport to the ways and means of the world and hence the most famous English schools are run by Anglo-Indians. Recognizing that students and their parents need more than proficiency in the world’s lingua franca, Anthony founded Frank Anthony Public Schools. The success of FAPS encouraged Anglo-Indian teachers to start running their own educational institutions.

O’Brien gave great importance to Anglo-Indian education because in the jobs held in the Railways, Posts and Telegraphs, Customs and police, the British provided on-the-job training to the Anglo-Indian youth in a formal education setting. When these so-called “fixed jobs” were abolished after independence, many young Anglo-Indians did not find their skills in the labor market and migrated to other countries. English language. However, the success of our diaspora made us realize that even though we are not skilled in India, our greatest strength in living abroad is our mother tongue.

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The author says thoughtfully that “society emerged from professional soldiers”. This can show his enthusiasm, loyalty and cooperation, qualities that are in high demand in sports and the defense services.

That being said, there is a third area where society has played a critical role: the empowerment of women. O’Brien said bluntly, “With freedom came the uncertainty of whether she could continue to dress for work, work with her male peers, speak the only language she knew and live his life the only way he knows how. The answer comes quickly and noiselessly: of course he can. That is, if he can continue to care or not care about what he thinks. no matter what others say about her. She did it easily. Today, almost all girls in urban India want to go out and work, most of them with support and encouragement of their husbands and in-laws.

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According to the Women in Business 2021 report by Grant Thornton, India ranks third in the world for women working in senior management positions. The Anglo-Indian women, who produced this tsunami in social terms, were only half of this small community. Although our population is small, some movers and shakers of other communities are very worried about the Anglo-Indian and they have released our information from the census records. Although the Anglo-Indians were the only community recognized in the Constitution. Barry O’Brien shared the unspoken message that his community was the catalyst for change in Indian society.


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