The East Indian Community

Original Inhabitants of Bombay, Salsette & Thana.


The Future of the East Indian.

By H. J.M. D’Penha,  B.A.


The new Reforms have undoubtedly ushered in an era on India’s history. Not only in India but in every quarter of the globe, the old order is decaying and giving place to vast and revolutionary changes. Democracy and Parliamentary Government have outlived their day giving birth to proletarian and militant dictatorship. But amidst all this travail and charivari and storm of clashing ideals, it is a matter of great pride and glory to note that the Rock of St. Peter stands yet firm and unshaken as “Teneriffe or Atlas unremoved”


This then is a broad and general survey of the condition of the world a the present day which is going to affect the lives of one and all of us. What, then, is going to be the attitude of  the East Indian ? Is he going to keep himself isolated and rest content with being a disinterested spectator, of this great world drama or is he going to actively play his role on the stage ? East Indians, how long are we going to indulge in personal animosities and petty squabbles culminating in expensive litigation and thereby entailing loss of wealth, energy and time ? When are we going to push upwards the narrow horizon of our ambition and take live interest in the civic, political and economic welfare of the country ?


We must remember that we are Indians, yet we have adopted foreign dress, foreign speech and foreign modes of living. Why the educated and elite of the East Indian community have giving up Marathi, their mother tongue, is a question that requires a solution ! Is it not a disgrace to know two or three European Languages and not to know the vernacular ? In the choice of our customs too many of us have given up the sari which has always been looked upon with admiration by foreigners as an invention of India’s artistic genius.


Very few of us take an active part in the vast constitutional changes that our country is undergoing. The fact, that only 33 percent of the Christian electorate exercised their franchise in the last election reflects that the Community is not politically educated. This indifferent attitude towards politics is specially conspicuous amongst the middle classes. They are quite scarified with their meager earnings and are lacking in the ambition to pull their full political weight.


It is true tat politics being a luxury, only the well-to-do can afford to indulge in this pastime. The most part of an East Indian’s life is spent in keeping his head above water. As a well known East Indian leader once said, “It is sheer nonsense to talk of ideals and politics to a hungry people. First Bread then the Alphabet.”. But admitting that politics is within the access of the rich only, I find that there is a considerable number of East Indians with health, talent and influence who for some reason or other have always retracted from a political career.


In civics, happily the Community takes a keen interest, though here too much remains to be done. But in social and co-operative work the East Indian has scarcely rendered any valuable service. Every one of us, I am sure, can devote a fraction of his time to social and rural uplift. We have quite a number of lawyers, doctors, teachers, veterinary surgeons, landowners and graduates who can afford to spare an hour or two a week in the company of the villagers of the backwaters of Salsette and Bassein, teaching them to read and write, and in general to ameliorate their lot in life. Out Botanists and Graduates in agriculture could give them some instructions in the sowing of seeds and plantation of vegetables, while our doctors could advise them on hygiene principles of living and prevention of disease. The lawyer will contribute his quota by acquainting the East Indian farmer with his legal and political rights and in general protect him from the clutches of the iron-hearted “sowkar”. In short, we have to work our salvation within our own borders and start work on a co-operative basis.


Co-operative Societies must be started in order to cater to the financial needs of our farmers and industrial and agricultural schools established. The authorities must be constantly pressed to grant funds for this purpose. I believe that one of the greatest drawbacks from which the farmer today suffers is lack of expert and adequate advice. To obviate this I would propose a Rural Uplift Organization as a part of the East Indian Association.


The work ahead is pressing and deserves immediate attention. The appalling illiteracy and dire poverty prevailing in the villages makes the task Herculean; nevertheless the attempt must not be postponed any further for after all we must remember that unless we improve our economic condition, we cannot hope to attain to political power. Out economic amelioration can be accomplished by a Planned National Economy and for that there is no need of a complete reshuffling of society and overhauling of the present economic basis.


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