Debating India

WEST BENGAL

From the fringes: Votes without a voice

Thursday 20 April 2006, by ADHIKARY*sharmi

A lone Portuguese, a handful of Armenians, a dwindling community of Parsis, a relatively bigger but fast migrating population of Chinese. Their numbers are not enough to tilt the scales, but they are all an integral part of Kolkata. Sharmi Adhikary finds out what elections mean to them

Chinese

There are about 1,500 Chinese in Tangra, and 60 per cent of them have EPICs. They may have a vote, but most feel that they don’t have a voice. ??The roads need repair, there should be more street-lights, but who will listen to us? We do our duty, and go out and vote. But since we belong to the Chinese community, no one cares,’’ says Ling Liang, a teacher at the local Chinese school.

Portuguese

Leon Joseph Madeira, an undertaker by profession, is reported to be the lone Portuguese in the city. He does not intend to vote, but makes it a point to mention that his forefathers always exercised their franchise. Madeira says no political leader today is fit to shoulder any responsibility. ??Today’s leaders only know personal benefits. I will not vote because no minister has ever helped me,’’ he says.

Armenian

As per official records, there are over 100 Armenians in Kolkata. But barring three of them, none are Indian citizens. And of the three, two are still minors while the third is not on the electoral rolls. “I still have my Chennai EPIC as I was residing there till six months back,” says Michael Stephen.Father Oshagan Gulgulian of the Armenian College would just like to see a cleaner Kolkata.

Parsis

Numbering about 650 in the city, the Parsis are determined to have a say in the polls. ??Yes, I vote from Burrabazar constituency. Most of our people vote. Why shouldn’t we? We are Indians after all,’’ says a member of the community at the Zoroastrian Anjuman Atash Adaran. Cyrus Madan adds: ??The government is moving on the right track and should continue the same developmental work in infrastructure.’’

See online : The Indian Express

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