day in Corbett
Yatra / Trek
There are five small traditional hunting-gathering tribes, the Great
Andamanese, the Onge, the Jarawa and the Sentinelese on the Andaman islands
and the Shompen on the Nicobar islands.
During the nineteenth
century, while the British succeeded in bringing around the ten Great
Andamanese after several years’ efforts (involving the use of force and
blandishment), the eleventh tribe in the Great Andaman area (South Andaman to
be precise) continued to remain highly suspicious of the settlement and the
settlers. They were what are known as the Jarawa. There were numerous hostile
contacts and encounters with them during the late nineteenth and the first
half of the twentieth century.
In fact during the 1920s and
1930s the British were obliged to send many armed punitive expeditions to the
Jarawa areas in the deep forests on the western coast of South Andaman. The
Jarawa themselves found it expedient to spread out to the western coast of
Middle Andaman under these pressures.
A special Bush police
force was also created to deal with the Jarawa. After 1947 this policy
underwent a basic change as the new Indian government, influenced by
Nehru’s philosophy, (Pandit 1989:83-92) did not subscribe to the
principle of punitive expeditions against tribes except under conditions
of overt and conscious violent political rebellions against the legally
established government. The situation here is altogether different, as
the Jarawa are still not consciously aware of being citizens of the
Indian Republic. However various ‘Jarawa incidents’ continued from
the 1950s to the 1970s, and they occur even today though to a much
lesser extent. These incidents are mostly caused by the fact that the
Jarawa feel disturbed by movements and certain activities of outside
people in their territory and wish to discourage these by attacking the
‘culprits’ if very much provoked.
Since 1968 much
thought has been given to this matter by anthropologists and the A&N
administration and certain useful measures have been taken to remove
prejudice on either side.
In early 1974 a
team succeeded in establishing friendly contact with the Jarawa in
Middle Andaman. Since then (over 21 years) many visits have been paid to
the Jarawa by official contact parties and friendship has been extended
to various groups in South Andaman as well. These visits are made about
once a month.
considerable pressure from politically vocal sections of the people, the
A&N administration appointed an Expert Committee under Dr S.C. Sinha
(anthropologist) to make recommendations regarding the extension of the
Andaman Trunk Road alongside Jarawa territory in the South and Middle
The committee gave
conditional approval for constructing the road. But while the road has
been made the conditions important for safeguarding Jarawa interests
remain mostly unfulfilled due to difficulties faced by the
administration and lack of will. This road remains a big hazard for the
survival of the Jarawa. Their population of about 200 has an area of 600
sq km of reserved forest and tribal area. But they are surrounded by
more than 105,000 (1981 census figures) settlers. Their territory could
be overrun in the coming decades unless very sensible and effective
measures are taken to avoid such an eventuality.
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