Jarawa of the Andaman’s are one of the most primitive tribes of India. They have been untouched by most of humanity and still continue to live their nomadic life. Infact when the first ‘civilized’ people set foot in the Andamans (i.e. the British to construct the Cellular Jail aka Kala Pani) most of the Andaman tribes became friends with the Britishers but the Jarawa resisted any outside influence. The result was the most of the other tribes (together called the Great Andamanese) are almost extinct while the Jarawa still survive. And they have not just survived but they continue to live with fearless pride and self-respect while on the other hand the remaining members of the Great Andamanize live ignominious lives.
But recently, the Indian administration has decided to ‘civilize’ them. Here is an report about them in HT.
India may lose the tag of having world’s most primitive nomadic — Jarawa of Andaman – with the government deciding to reverse its 2004 policy of preserving their uniqueness. Jarawa migrated from Africa centuries ago and lived in isolation in forests of Andaman till 1998 when some of them ventured out to visit nearby towns. Dependant on forest produce for food and clothes, they caught attraction of researchers and tourists. But reducing forest habitat and inbreeding have shrunk their population to below 350 from over a thousand in 1950s.
And I find this idea outrageous and just too intrusive on the part of the state. Who the hell is the state to decide who is ‘civilized’ and who is not? If you ask me, it is all these corrupt netas and babu log that need civilizing first!
This raises a very important question about the state’s power ambit. First we encroached on their land, then spread diseases and almost wiped them out (according to the last census, only 41 Great Andamanese remain while they were once the largest tribe with more than 10,000 members). And even after such an experience, the administration still insists on poking their nose in their affairs? They are certainly stepping over the line here, don’t you think?
When the state imposes monstrous rules on us like the recent rule on drinking age limit in Mumbai, we atleast have ourselves to blame coz we elected them. But in the case of the Jarawa, they did not choose this intrusion in their lives and hence it is completely illegal and unethical for the administration to force anything on them.
The last time I went to the Andamans, I remember chatting about this issue over tea with some Jarawa experts and people who have interacted with them. The interesting thing is that they all agreed that the Jarawa are much happier and contend with their lives as they are, without any outside intervention.
A researcher had also said, “We don’t need materialistic needs to be happy, just look at the Jarawa. They sure can teach a lot us. We are much too busy running a rat race that we forget what pure joy means in life.”
And now the government wants to take all that away from them? Just coz they feel that they are not ‘civilized’? Bulshit I say.
Don’t ‘Civilize’ the Jarawas, let them live free and be happy. And more importantly, if they want to change they should want it themselves, the state can not and should not impose anything on them.