Jarawas: to protect or not

By Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava

, by Down to earth

Government’s expert panel against bringing the tribe into the mainstream

A RECENTLY released video showing Jarawa women dancing in front of tourists has triggered a debate on whether the ancient tribe of Andaman and Nicobar Islands should be brought into the mainstream. In this context, an expert committee of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has recommended the Central government should not alter the policy of protecting the Jarawas from exposure to the outside world until studies are conducted on their concerns and aspirations. The Jarawas, whose population is just about 300, are known to have little immunity to outside illnesses.

In 2004, the government formulated its “Policy on Jarawa Tribe of Andaman Islands” to mandate limited interference in the cultural life of the tribe. The policy stated no attempt should be made to bring the tribe into the mainstream against their will. However, a section of politicians, including member of Parliament from the Islands Bishnu Pada Ray, have been demanding an aggressive policy to integrate the Jarawas into the mainstream. In June last year, the Andaman administration said the policy should be altered to empower the tribe to deal with the challenges of the modern society.

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