The Jarawas are an indigenous people of the Andaman Islands in India.They live in parts of South Andaman and Middle Andaman Islands. They are believed to have lived in their Indian Ocean home for up to 55,000 years.Today, approximately 400 members of the nomadic Jarawa tribe live in groups of 40-50 people in chaddhas – as they call their homes.
Like most tribal peoples who live self-sufficiently on their ancestral lands, the Jarawa continue to thrive, and their numbers are steadily growing.They do not interact much with the outsiders. However, in 1998, a few Jarawa started to emerge from their forest for the first time without their bows and arrows to visit nearby towns and settlements.
Problems Faced by Jarawa Community
The principal threat to the Jarawa‘s existence comes from encroachment onto their land, which
was sparked by the building of a highway through their forest in the 1970s.
The road (Andaman Trunk Road) that cuts through their territory brings thousands of outsiders, including tourists, into their land. The tourists treat the Jarawas like animals in a safari park.
They remain vulnerable to outside diseases to which they have little or no immunity. In 1999 and
2006, Jarawas suffered from outbreaks of measles – a disease that has wiped out many tribes worldwide following contact with outsiders.
Jarawa women have been sexually abused by poachers, settlers, bus drivers and others. In the
past many videos have surfaced in which females members of this tribe are being asked to dance in exchange of food.
In 2014, two French filmmakers have been booked on the charge of tresspassing into the protected Jarawa tribal reserve in the Andaman islands and filming a documentary on the threatened aboriginal tribe.
Illegal hunting, fishing and gathering, from both local and foreign poachers, remains a serious threat to the Jarawa‘s survival. The theft of the food they rely on risks robbing them of their self sufficiency and driving the tribe to extinction.
Attempts To ‘Mainstream’ The Jarawa
o In 1990 the local authorities revealed their master plan to settle the Jarawa in two villages with an economy based on fishery, suggesting that hunting and gathering could be their sports. The plan was so prescriptive that it even detailed what style of clothes the Jarawa should wear.
o However, in 2004 the resettlement plan was abandoned with the announcement of a radical new
policy that allowed them to choose their own future, and that outside intervention in their lives would be kept to a minimum.
Steps Taken To Protect Jarwa
As per provisions of Andaman and Nicobar Island (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956
dated 18.6.1956, the Andamanese, Jarawas, Onges, Sentinelese, Nicobarese and Shom Houses have been identified as Aboriginal tribes.The PAT Regulation contains the provisions of protection of these communities from the outside snooping.
In 2002, the Supreme Court ordered closure of Andaman Trunk road, yet it still remains open.
In 2013, the Supreme Court banned tourists from travelling along the ATR for seven weeks. After the Andaman Authorities changed their own rules in order to allow the human safaris to continue, the Supreme Court had no choice but to reverse the ban.
The Andaman Authorities had opened an alternative sea route to Baratang. This sea route
would stop the human safaris, as tourists would no longer have an excuse to drive through the Jarawa‘s forest.