22 April, 2021

A Plebiscite?

Varying opinions muddy the Jarawa ‘policy’

Swapan Nayak
A Plebiscite?

Who Are The Jarawas?

  • Descendants of migrants from mainland Asia who arrived in the Andamans about 60,000 years ago, they number around 300
  • They’re hunter-gatherers
  • Jarawa is ‘stranger’ in Aka-Bea, an Andamanese language. They call themselves Ang
  • With high infant mortality, the tribe suffer from frequent bouts of measles and other diseases


The longstanding dilemma of how to best ensure the survival of one of India’s extant prehistoric peoples—the Jarawas of the Andaman islands—and their traditions is again occupying centrestage. A controversial proposal to bring these people into the mainstream, that was to be taken up for discussion in June by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Development Authority, chaired by the prime minister, has been deferred after the National Advisory Council (NAC) expressed concern about the likely impact of any such unilateral social engineering on the...

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