Monday, September 26, 2011

The Islands Belong to Tribals: Prof Banerjee

Settlers Abandon the Islands.
The Islands Belong to Tribals: Prof Banerjee

Prof S Mukherjee, University of Kolkata without inhibitions spoke his mind while presenting a paper on Political Autonomy, Development and National Security; Some Reflections on the Archipelago. On the sidelines of the two-day seminar, Prof S. Banerjee spoke to the Light of Andamans

What's your opinion about the seminar and the topic?
The main issue that we all are dodging is our role in these Islands. Before we think or plan about the Islands, It should be clear that the original inhabitants of these Islands are the indigenous tribes. All others are settlers. We cannot decide the fate of these Islands.

What do you suggest?
The settlers must abandon these Islands and the tribes should be left to themselves. The Islands should be made a trust territory under United Nations. We have no right to be here. We need to atone for the historical mistake.

Why should the settlers leave the Islands?
The world's great genocides were carried out against the indigenous tribes of Africa, North America and Australia. The same thing has happened here. British were the first colonial power, who occupied the territory, which belonged to the tribals. They made a mistake. And, after independence, we should have left the Islands. We continued the mistake and now its time, we do penance. I am talking about justice. How can justice be delivered, when we are illegally occupying their land. Look at the plight of the tribes. We are all colonisers here.

What do you think about autonomy for the Islands?
Whose autonomy are we talking about - settlers autonomy or tribals autonomy? Why are we discussing the strategic importance of these Islands? Whose development are we talking about? The Indian nation state has made a huge mistake. Andaman and Nicobar Islands does not belong to India literally. Technically and legally, it may belong to India. But, the real owners of these Islands are the tribes.

Is this a practical solution? Do you know that the Administration and GOI is thinking about peaceful co-existence of indigenous tribes and the settler population?
Practical or not. Controversial or not. This is the fact and I don't think we have any right over their land. Leave the Islands to UN and come and see the lives of the tribes after 100 years.


Kalapani said...

If settlers have to abandon Andaman Islands for primitive tribes then Prof.Banerjee should first abandon kolkata as it was inhabited by Santhals and other tribes.So charity should begin at home.

andamani said...

I think this Prof has gone out of his mind... This interview s comparable to one i saw in Utube regarding cloud computing..

Trinket said...

Though Prof. Banerjee has every right to point out his stand regarding this issue, I don't think practically it is possible to abandon these islands and let it be inhabitant for the most part. There are a few issues which needs to be looked into.

First of all, when he points out tribe, there is a large population of our Nicobari brothers and sisters who have successfully assimilated with the main stream modernized living, what happens to them?

If all of the Govt. and private sector leaves tomorrow, what happens to their lifestyle? Are we suppose to leave them behind and let them fend for themselves. Now that after maintaining the modernized lifestyle for almost a century they should go back to being hunters and gatherers?

Secondly what about the security factor of whole India. Its pretty much an open secret that China has its holding on the Coco Islands which belongs to Myanmar, are we this naive to assume that China or some other country will not take this opportunity and start their military base in the islands, putting the rest of India in a very vulnerable position? Let's face it our islands are very strategically placed and it gives Republic of India an upper hand to monitor defense activity throughout the south east Asia.

And thirdly, what happens to the so called “colonizer”. We the people of Andaman has in-time developed our own culture, where inter-caste, inter-religious marriages are norm, we never came across any kind of religious hatred in these islands. Doesn't matter how much we complain about the islands, its a fact that crime rate is really low compared to mainland India. How are we going to sustain in bigger population where killing over caste/class/religion happens on daily basis.

Trinket said...

Is it Prof S. Mukherjee or S. Banerjee?