Govt wants to Civilize the Jarawa: Don’t impose Choices!

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.

  • http://dhruva-mathur.blogspot.com Dhruva Mathur

    I totally agree with you. What makes a country great is the diversity that it enjoys while at the same time being united. They should be left alone because they form a very important part of our nation’s diversity. And this talk about being civilised then I would like to point out that it is just like the British who forced us to become the so called ‘civilised.’ If people want to then they will, they need not be forced.

    • http://www.adityakumarnayak.com Aditya Kumar Nayak

      Exactly, As you said “If people want to then they will”. Brilliantly put

  • http://flashedfiction.blogspot.com Ahimaaz Rajesh

    That’s really well put. It’s funny how we think ‘we are the civilized’. We have more to learn from them than they from us. Thanks to ‘civilization’, they’re near extinct and that’s very sad.

    • http://www.adityakumarnayak.com Aditya Kumar Nayak

      Definitely, we have more to learn. I saw this picture of a Jarawa with his bow and arrow stretched at the helicopter which was trying to take its picture. The fact that he was holding the primitive arrow against an unknown enemy did not scare him. Now how many of us would dare to have the same courage against an UFO, if it lands in your city? 

      Thats the spirit of the Jarawa, and we are killing it! Sad.

  • http://www.ideas.techiemonk.com techiemonk

    Anything stupid like civilizing will be encroachment on basic human and fundamental rights  !
    Everyone till contrary to mandate of law is free to live his life in this country .

    • http://www.adityakumarnayak.com Aditya Kumar Nayak

      True, that is how it should be but is rarely the case

  • http://ruhisonal.wordpress.com/ Ruhi

    Nice to see a true interpretation of freedom in this post. “Civilisation” has been imposed on a lot of natives, including Red Indians of America. The point is obvious, no one except the tribals themselves can decide whether they want to move to a different kind of civilisation than the one they are already enjoying. Though, I don’t think this is all about “corrupt netas and babulog” 😀 It is a general trend across the world, to impose supposed civilisation/homogeneity in lifestyles. I think the reason lies elsewhere: people, usually tribals need to be civilised since their contribution to GDP is negligible even though they occupy a scarce resource: land. They are a loss making society for the nation as a whole, being unmaterialistic is their biggest fault. It’s a much larger phenomenon. One can’t live unless one’s contributing to the money machine significantly. A way out is active glorification of the Jarawas, including them in “Incredible India” campaigns more actively.

    • http://www.adityakumarnayak.com Aditya Kumar Nayak

      Nice point. “A way out is active glorification of the Jarawas, including them in “Incredible India” campaigns more actively.”