MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA JANUARY 17 , 2012 02.40 A.M.
Apart from Hindus , Muslims , Christians , Jews and Parsis India has a sizable chunk of animist tribal population also . Andaman & Nicobar Islands have a large tribal population , some of them are even pre – historic . Some of these aboriginal tribes have been declared endangered . It means they are on the verge of extinction .
Jarawa tribe is one of the most endangered tribes of Andaman & Nicobar Islands . There are just 240 Jarawas left . That is the reason Administration of Andaman & Nicobar Islands has declared them endangered tribes and have initiated several welfare schemes for the preservation of their identity and culture .
Last week some tourists filmed a video , which showed that Jarawa women are dancing for food . When the news became public there was tremendous public outcry . Several mainstream channels carried the clippings and they were indignant that Jarawas were degraded by this dance – for – food act and that filming of the act was inhuman and insensitive . Demands for inquiry were raised and the administration of Andaman & Nicobar Islands promptly ordered the inquiry .
Andaman & Nicobar Islands are enchantingly beautiful . Azure sea , breath – taking greenery and primitive surroundings are beyond words .
Sunset and Sunrise also attract tourists . This pristine and virgin beauty has to be preserved from senseless urbanization . These eco – sensitive and fragile beauty can’t be open for unbridled modernization . Pre – historic jungles shouldn’t be allowed to become a concrete jungle .
We have a policy for tribals . It calls for their protection and for the preservation of their tradition and culture . This issue of preserving tribal culture is so vexed that initially I was swayed by the views of various anchors of news channels . In the Times of India of January 15 , 2012 , I read a column ” Swaminomics ” , written by columnist Mr. Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar . Thanks to Mr. Aiyar’s column , my views on this issue is clear now .
We do need to preserve our tribal culture . We should and must try to protect our endangered tribal population . But keeping them in quarantined atmosphere is not preservation . I am posting few photos of the Jarawa tribals . Watch these Jarawa men and women and then decide :
According to me our tribal population should be allowed to mix with the mainstream . They should be encouraged to study , to live a decent life . They are entitled to proper medication and they have every right to have all the modern amenities . Just look at the photograph of Port Blair , the capital of Andaman & Nicobar Islands :
Port Blair is not a metropolitan city .It is not like New Delhi , Mumbai or Bengaluru . But definitely it is a bustling town with all the modern amenities . Now compare this with the condition of the tribal population of Andaman & Nicobar Islands :
Is it not inhuman to keep our tribals in the primitive condition of pre – historic days ? It is argued that exposing them to civil society will be injurious for their existence . Total land area of Andaman & Nicobar Islands is 6,496 km. Total population , as per recent census statistics of 2011 is 3,79,944 .There are only 5 tribes in Andaman Islands . They are ; Great Andamanese , Jarawa , Jangil , Onge and Sentinelese . Their total number is 7,000 . There are only 2 tribes in Nicobar Islands . They are ; Nicobarese and Shompens .Some of Nicobarese are educated and have been exposed to modern civilization ;
Out of all the 572 islands , only 38 are inhabited . Out of these 38 islands less than a dozen have some kind of tribal population . Can’t we keep watch on them and protect them from exploitation ? Tribals of North – East India are well – educated . They have been exposed to modern culture . They live in cities with all the modern trappings . They didn’t disappear and become extinct . In fact they are more rooted and still preserve their identity and thriving ethnic culture . Tribal People of Arunachal Pradesh , Nagaland , Manipur , Meghalaya , Mizoram and Tripura are modern , well – educated and city – centric . They don’t live in their pre – historic primitive conditions . Yet their tribal culture is intact , in fact it is more strong .
So the bogey of losing tribal culture is misplaced . If we insist that tribals of Andaman & Nicobar Islands should be kept in virgin and primitive preservation , we are treating then as animals of a zoo . I totally agree with Mr. Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar that this zoo mentality should not be allowed to continue . Our constitution gives us right to work , right to vote and right to education . By keeping these trbals in a ghetto and trying to keep them away from modern civilization is depriving them of their fundamental rights . Sure , making them dance for food and filming the act is inhuman . But can any one answer why these Jarawas could be tantalized for food ? A well – fed population can’t be lured for food . So it is clear these Jarawas are deprived . They are famished . And thus were lured by tourists .
Above posted photos tells everything . These tribals lack basic amenities . They are poor and famished . They must be craving for two decent meals a day and they are not getting that . So they gave in when tempted by the tourists . Can any one lure a Naga , a Khasi , a Garo , a Jayantia or a Mizo from the North – East India for food ?Everyone knows the answer . It’s a firm no .
So same treatment will be beneficial for the tribals of Andaman & Nicobar Island also . We need a modern , well – educated , well – fed tribal population , who are well – integrated with the mainstream . We do need to preserve distinct tribal identity and not a quarantined , secluded and ghettoized existence. Definitely tribals of Andaman & Nicobar Islands could be another Naga , Mizo , Khasi or Jayantia .
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA
- Manhunt launched to nab videographer of dancing Jarawa women (thehindu.com)
- Mainstreaming the Jarawas would be a disaster: Survival (thehindu.com)
- Govt seeks reports from Andaman administration on Jarawa exploitation (thehindu.com)
- Andaman Islands tour operator faces arrest over ‘human safari’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Police say Jarawa video old, Govt orders probe (ibnlive.in.com)
- Andaman tribes lured to dance for tourists (ibnlive.in.com)
- ‘Human Zoo’ Video Ignites Anger From Rights Groups! (disclose.tv)
- Outrage Over Indian Islands ‘Human Zoo’ Video (maboulette.wordpress.com)
- ‘Human zoo’ video from Indian islands provokes worldwide outrage (news.nationalpost.com)
- ‘Human zoo’ video causes outrage in India (calgaryherald.com)
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