Adivasi – Tribal India Group
The Jarawa Adivasis were among the first people to migrate from Africa to Asia but, their way of life is threatened by increased contact with the outsiders. Their future now depends on the decisions of the Indian government.
The Jarawa Adivasis population of around 300 people consists of dark skinned men and women similar to their African ancestor. They live in the forests of Andaman islands in isolation and misery.
The Jarawa Adivasis have been scheduled as a Primitive Tribal Group (PTG) in the Constitution of India, being hunter-gatherers and till recently, hostile to all outsiders.
During the British time a large population of Jarawas Adivasis, scattered over the entire Andaman group of Islands, were decimated in a bloody battle. Compounded by the effects of inbreeding, and tough living conditions in the forests of Andamans, the Jarawa Adivasis population decreased year by year to stand at 300 only.
The govt of India, guided by a collective decision of experts, has adopted a policy of isolation / no contact with the mainstream population, the drastically reduced hostility has emboldened both sides of the populations into frequent meetings, therefore, a situation of conflict, which does not pose that much of a problem but, the friendly interaction are resulting in inculcation of undesirable knowledge and habits as well as injection of race impurity. Therefore, it can be concluded that the isolation policy of the Govt Administration has failed totally and if the current policy and treatment continues, it will not take much time in total annihilation of the Jarawa Adivasis entity.
Demand for Development of Jarawa Adivasis seems to be questionable? —
The Member of Parliament, Bishnu Pada Ray has submitted the agenda points collected from the islanders for consideration of the Standing Committee Meeting of the Island Development Authority (IDA) meeting to be held in July 2010.
Agenda includes following considerable points for all concerned people -
Steps be taken to bring the Jarawa Adivasis up to the basic mainstream characteristics. Example can be taken from the treatment given to Birhor ( jharkhandi.com/birhor.aspx ) and Savar ( jharkhandi.com/savar.aspx ) Adivasis of Jharkhand in Singhbhum and Khunti districts. In a nutshell, children in the age of 6 to 12 years were weaned away from the Adivasis community and kept in a normal school atmosphere, where they were very quickly trained in personal hygiene, use of clothes and basic reading and writing skills. They were also exposed to eating habits of simple mainstream people and modern amenities such as television and motor vehicles. After 6 months they were returned to the Adivasis community and re-contacted after a month. When they were found to have lost some of their clothes and mainstream habits; it was also observed that members of the Adivasis community had acquired some of the mainstream characteristics such as personal hygiene and use of clothes.
The exercise of schooling the same children were repeated, this time over a longer period. Over time, trainers were able to infiltrate into the main pockets of Adivasis community and inculcate skills of personal hygiene, wearing of clothes and their maintenance, partaking of cooked food and basic agricultural and horticultural activities. The final result was training the entire population into a village identical with any other village of Adivasis population in Jharkhand.
A similar drastic mainstreaming treatment be given to the Jarawa Adivasis population to ensure their survival against the adverse effects of unregulated contacts with the mainstream.
Recognition of Scheduled Tribe status to immigrant Adivasis in Andaman:
The initial taming of the wild territory of Andaman Islands began under the experienced hands of the Adivasis workers (men and women both) from Jharkhand Region of Indian states - Jharkhand, Bengal, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh including Chhattisgarh, who were brought in as contract labour in Public works Dept (PWD) and Forest Dept. These Adivasis, popularly known as 'Jharkhandi' began with the small number of 400 families in 1918 brought by the British masters to work in timber industry.
Progressively, with the increase of labour requirement for settlement of large populations by the independent Indian government, the population of 'Jharkhandi Adivasis' stands at 70,000 i.e. more than 17% of the total population of A&N islands. The 'Jharkhandi Adivasis' are mainly Munda, Oraon, Santhal, Lohar, Kharia, Ho, etc. For more info about them, visit at www.jharkhandi.org
Jharkhandi Adivasis immigrants from the states of West Bengal, Orrissa, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhatisgargh who have left their homeland and families to work for development of the islands and have stayed here for long periods not given proper attention yet. Basically, shy in nature, they have not demanded for much unlike their counterparts migrated from other parts of the country, who have raised their demands and got lots of facilities.
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Adivasi – Tribal India Group, New Delhi ( http://adivasi.ozg.in )