THE LIGHT OF ANDAMANS | VOL: 35 | ISSUE: 26 | 03 FEBRUARY 2012
Jarawa and Media Lies
With the Jarawa videos hitting the mainstream media, there has been a flow of news reports with half baked truths, myths and baseless expert comments of different shades.
By Staff Reporter
The media as well as many columnists have taken a plunge into the Jarawa video issue without bothering to get their facts right. A series of articles and comments have been appearing in the media. A few excerpts:
“First exposed by tribal rights group Survival International in 2010 and brought to light by an unsettling video uploaded by The Observer last month, dozens of visitors to the remote Andaman Islands -- between India and Burma in the Bay of Bengal -- queue up daily at dawn to drive through a jungle reserve set aside for the Jarawa tribe. The tourists then toss scraps of food to the half-naked natives, commanding them to dance. The video footage posted online is the kind of exotic encounter some tourists dream about when they set out on a so-called "safari," but the practice is both devastating and humiliating for the tribe involved."
Moreover, the kind of ignorance about the tribes, geography and history of the Islands, have filled the media with comments from people who might be part of the process of framing policy for the
Islands and the tribes.
The most surprising part is the comments coming from the Tribal Affairs Minister, V Kishore Chandra Deo. When the population of the tribe is increasing gradually and medical intervention is taken care of, he is in a shock how the tribe has survived all these years.
"Jarawas need to be immunised and probably medical experts and anthropologists will have to study and tell us how they existed all these years and what needs to be done now," Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo said.
On whether the government is planning to form a team of experts to conduct studies on the Jarawas, he said, "
Lot of people have already gone into these areas and lot of studies have been done and papers written.
"Now it is a question of contacting them (the experts) and having some intellectual discourse with them before we come to some kind of decision."
He said that "utmost importance" should be given to increase their immunity, adding, "Probably nutrition is another thing which can do this and their existence.
"Their health and food needs have to be looked into and it can be done there itself. They are very few in numbers and it is important to see that they don't dwindle further, that their population itself is not at stake," Deo said.
In a report, the Tribal Affairs Minister told PTI, "The problem inside is the ATR which joins Port Blair with the Great Nicobar, it passes through that area. If ATR is closed, then the alternative routes will be the sea and aerial route."
"Considered as the life-line of the Great Nicobar island, the ATR is used to run convoys of food and other essential supplies to Nicobar."
In another report, Harsh Mander, Member, National Advisory Council (NAC) told The Tribune,
. "We are talking of the Andamanese and the Sentinelese who are not able to survive ever since they came into contact with the world outside. Our policy must ensure their protection and we will work on the policy for the next four to five months." Chandigarh
An unknown spokesperson for Andaman and Nicobar Admn has been quoted by media saying that "It is likely that some foreign NGOs may be in possession of some more old video footage, as these have been in circulation on the Internet, to selectively release them to sensationalising the issue with the ulterior aim of putting pressure for closure of the Andaman Trunk Road, the lifeline of more than one lakh people inhabiting North and Middle Andamans."
"It closed down all such tourism activities (including government-run establishments) which could have impacted on the Jarawa interests," the unknown spokesperson further added.
DNA editorialised the issue and said: "Ten years after the Supreme Court ordered closure of the Andaman Trunk Road, which traverses through Jarawa land, violating their right to a peaceful life, the Union territory's administration claims to be looking at alternative routes to connect Greater Nicobar with Andaman, implying that it has coolly ignored the order of the highest court in the land so far.
"It is one thing to protect these primitive tribes from external forces, quite another to influence their mores through unwanted interaction. The 'civilised' world cannot arrogate to itself the right to judge these tribes, much less destroy their lives and habitat. Let's face it: it was not the Jarawa who wanted us there; we have transgressed into their territory without so much as a by your leave. Describing their lands as part of our country and disturbing them in the name of our laws is nothing but colonisation in disguise."
"If the tribes in the Andamans are indeed full Indian citizens, the government must exert itself to ensure that they are allowed to live freely the way they want without being disturbed by outside forces."
"If the only way to do that is to evacuate all the interlopers living there, so be it."
Another shocker news says that more torture videos of Jarawa tribe emerges... There is no end to it.
Many columnists of regard were offering solutions that were readily available on Port Blair streets. One of them even offered them 100 days of employment through the central scheme MNREGA. Jarawas are much better in their forest reserve and needs all protection from the onslaught of such experts and media.