One of the Adivasi indigenous peoples of the Andaman Islands in India are the Jarawas. As per an estimate today there may be anywhere between 250 to 400 Jarawas left on the island. This is the reason why Jarawas are a designated Scheduled Tribe.
As the Jarawas do not communicate much with the outsiders nothing much is known about their society, culture and traditions. Jarawas along with indigenous Andamanese people have inhabited the islands for many thousand years.
Issues faced by Jarawas:
Jarawas had reported 14 cases of ill treatment in the last three years and the current year. This number may be much lower than the real cases of ill treatment that the Jarawas and other native tribes on the Andaman Island face.
Here are some problems that Jarawas and other native tribals on the island have been facing in the recent years:
- Tourists who come to visit Andaman Islands and undertake jungle safari make Jarawas and other local tribals dance and pose for food.
- Poachers mostly from Myanmar have introduced alcohol and drugs into the reserve forests.
- Poachers at times in barter for alcohol and drugs abuse orphan girls and widows of the tribes.
- The Great Andaman Trunk Road which was build in the 1970s and which passes through Jarawas' newer western forest homeland is probably the biggest threat to the Jarawas.
Solutions to solve the problems faced by Jarawas:
- Jarawa Tribal Reserve has been created where entry of unauthorised persons has been banned.
- Traffic on Andaman Trunk Road has been regulated for ensuring protection and welfare of Jarawas.
- Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Administration provides financial support to tribals for education and health facilities through Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti (AAJVS).
- Scholarships to ST students and implementing Tribal Sub-Plan as a part of UT Plan for socio-economic development of tribals are other measures.
- A&N Administration has constituted A&N Tribal Research & Training Institute (ANTRI) for research for bringing out possible interventions for tribal development, ethnographic and other research studies, documentation of oral tradition and traditional knowledge.
- A tribal museum is also planned.
Laws for the protection of Jarawas:
There are many special rules for the protection of tribals inhabiting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Some policies are also implemented for the protection and welfare of Jarawas and Shom Pens tribes respectively which are classified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
These laws are:
- A&N Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956;
- Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocity) Act, 1989 (and Amendment Act, 2015)
- Policy on Jarawa tribe of Andaman Island, 2004 and
- Policy on Shom Pens tribe of Great Nicobar Island, 2015
Role of AAJVS:
AAJVS functions under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 by A&N Administration to:
- Protect and preserve Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs),
- Promote social, economic and cultural interests of PVTGs,
- Conduct research studies to identify specific issues of PVTGs and formulate policies and programmes, and
- Protect health and prevent extinction of PVTGs.