Why Tribes on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Must be Left Alone..

BY Shubhi Mathur, 09 Mar, 2017

Global Jigyasa - India 101

Recently the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been in international news for negative reasons through no fault of its own people.

An American tourist has allegedly been killed by people of the Sentinelese tribe. An extremely isolated set of people, they have had no form of contact with the outside world since centuries and the Government of India tries to protect their isolation by making it illegal for anyone to try and establish contact with the Sentinelese on their island. Centuries of isolation have resulted in them not developing immunity to many diseases and any form of contact can lead to their extinction as a whole. In spite of this, ‘tribal tourism’ as they call it, has rocked the entire chain of islands in recent times even though the government is taking many steps to protect the tribal people.

It is important to understand the ecology and details of this chain of islands to understand the plight of its tribal people. The following document covers these details.

 

Neighbouring Regions

  • Separated from Thailand and Myanmar by the Andaman Sea

Andaman and Nicobar Islands, tourism in adaman and nicobar,  tribes of andaman and nicobar

Capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Political System

The capital of Andaman is Port Blair and that of Nicobar is Car Nicobar.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.  Andaman and Nicobar islands are one of the seven union territories of India. The current Lieutenant Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands is Admiral (Retd.) Devendra Kumar Joshi.

Current Status of Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Andaman and Nicobar Islands are one of India’s most biodiverse regions. It houses unique lifeforms and multiple ecosystems like terrestrial and marine. The region boasts of mangroves, coral reefs and seagrass beds along with whales, dolphins, marine turtles, saltwater crocodiles and various other endangered species. Because of the high economic value of these resources, they are more vulnerable to poaching, fishing and overexploitation. The issue of foreign poachers poses a threat to the thriving biodiversity of this region. Andaman and Nicobar islands are also sparsely populated with humans inhabiting only 36 out of the 500 islands in the regions. In order to conserve the biodiversity in the region, the Government of India has created 9 National Parks and 96 sanctuaries on these islands. But still, the issue of foreign poaching concerns authorities. Poaching of sea cucumbers and sea shells, which are found in abundance in the territorial waters of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is especially a major cause of concern.   The Andaman and Nicobar islands is also home to a huge number of tribes, many of which are endangered.

Issues of International Importance over the Years

Tourism

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands attract 1 lakh tourists annually owing to their pristine beaches, exotic biodiversity and rich tribal heritage. The local populations of these islands struggle to gain employment due to a lack of infrastructure and sustainable employment opportunities. Developing tourism opportunities in the region will not only help boost the economy but also provide employment to the locals. However, a delicate balance must be maintained in order to maintain the pristine ecosystem while at the same time support growth of the economy.   Waste management due to a high tourist inflow also causes problems. It is surprising that the Andaman and Nicobar islands survive on power generated by diesel engines which is not the best form of power generation – both economically and environmentally. The massive carbon footprint generated due to this is also a cause of environmental concern. Renewable energy sources like wind and tidal energy have not been harnessed in the union territory.

 

Andaman and Nicobar Islands, tourism in adaman and nicobar,  tribes of andaman and nicobar

 

Tribes

The Andaman and Nicobar islands are home to a wide number of tribes, some of which are near extinction. One such tribe is called the Jarawa tribe. As of 2011, there are only 380 Jarawas left in the Andaman Islands. These Jarawas follow their own methods of survival including hunting with bows and arrows and building their houses out of wood, leaves and other such resources found in forests. They are also referred to as ‘adivasis’ and have faced a lot of harassment and exploitation due to a range of human activities. Forests are extremely important for their existence as they feed on plants and animals found in forests. In recent times, the numbers of the Jarawas have fallen to a great extent because of the cutting down of trees and vegetation in these forests, also referred to as deforestation. Apart from deforestation, several other constructions such as the constructions of roads through forests are also affecting their numbers.

 

Tribes like the Jarawa are shy and do not like contact with human beings from modern societies like us. When roads go through their areas of shelter in forests, they try and move out from there and with reducing food sources, Jarawas are being pushed towards extinction. Many human beings also indulge in an activity often referred to as ‘tribal tourism’ which is like going on a ‘tiger safari’ where they try and spot tribal people. In this way, tribal people been heavily exploited in the past. While the Indian government has taken several steps to ensure that tribal people such as the Jarawas are protected and that their numbers can rise slowly and steadily, it is also extremely important for us to do our part for their protection and not encourage or participate in illegal activities like tribal tourism.

Tribal Group Distribution

  1. Andamanese
  2. Bo people
  3. Jangil
  4. Jarawas
  5. Cari people
  6. Great Andamanese
  7. Karen
  8. Kora people
  9. Negrito
  10. Nicobarese
  11. Onge
  12. Pucikwar
  13. Sentinelese
  14. Shompen

Links for detailed Research

References:

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