‘Mainstreaming the Jarawas a disaster’

Centre to discuss the possibility of inclusion of Jarawa tribes into the mainstream, tribal rights said such step would be prove to be a disaster.

Kolkata: As the Centre plans to discuss
the possibility of inclusion of Jarawa tribes of Andaman and
Nicobar Islands into the mainstream, tribal rights body
`Survival International` on Saturday said such steps would be
prove to be a disaster.

"Any attempt to keep the Jarawas in the mainstream by
force would be a disaster," the London-based Survival said in
a statement today.

"Forcibly assimilating tribal people into national
society has been viewed as unacceptable by the international
community for decades. Its catastrophic impact on tribal
people has been widely acknowledged" it said.

In the wake of a recent video footage showing
semi-naked tribal women dancing before tourists, Tribal
Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo had yesterday advocated
for the inclusion of Jarawas into the mainstream.

"As far as my personal view is concerned, it would be
totally unfair to leave them (Jarawa) in a beastly condition
forever. At the same time I am certainly not the one who would
like to expose them to mall and junk culture," he had said.

Survival`s campaigner Sophie Grig said, "Minister Deo
must move away from the idea that tribes will inevitably end
up `mainstream-ed` or that their life is `primitive` or

The Jarawa have thrived in their forests for more than
55,000 years they may be poor in monetary terms but their
health and quality of life is visibly better than that of the
Great Andamanese tribes who`ve been given the benefits of the
mainstream, she claimed.

Demanding that the Jarawa have the right to
self-determination, the NGO said only the tribals can decide
as to what kind of developments they want in their lives.

A report by Survival International shows that when
tribal people around the world have been forced into the
mainstream, rates of disease, depression, addiction and
suicide have soared.

The Jarawas, estimated to be around 400 in population
now, live in the reserve forests on South Andamans and have
largely shun contact with the outside world.

Under the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Regulation,
1956, any attempt to contact Jarawas, photographing them,
stopping vehicles while transiting through their land or
offering them rides is a punishable offence.


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