Jarawa Tribe Latest Population Numbers

On 07SEP12 the Directorate of Tribal Welfare, Andaman & Nicobar Administration, reported the present population of Jarawa tribe at 407.

Andaman & Nicobar Administration releases Grants-in-Aid to Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti to implement the schemes for the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) including Jarawas. The expenditure during each of the last three years for the welfare of Jarawas is as follows:

Year Rs. (In Lakhs)
2009-10 49.03
2010-11 72.16
2011-12 107.78

For the year 2012-13, an amount of Rs.122.00 lakh has been earmarked and so far Rs.12.81  lakh has been spent.

Interesting, the press release goes on to say:

The Jarawa tribe is still practising hunting, gathering for their subsistence and have their traditional way of life. As per the Jarawa Policy of 2004 of the Govt. of India, maximum autonomy is being given to the Jarawas with minimum and regulated intervention by A&N Administration. There is no intervention in cultural life of the Jarawas and they are left to develop according to their own genius and at their own pace. No attempts to bring them to the mainstream society against their conscious will at this stage of their social development will be made.

However, near the end of the 1990s more Indians came to settle on the islands and as a result have had more interaction changing their way of life. As a few of the pictures released by various media sources suggest:

Jarawa tribe begging for biscuits and cakes from tourists

A typical sign found at the entrance to the “human safari park” erected at the edge of the Jarawa tribal reserve

Tourists are not supposed to enter the reserve or have any contact with the tribe as they can bring diseases to which the Jarawa have no immunity.

A Jarawa woman being given biscuits by a bus driver on the Andaman Trunk Road

Jarawa village convoy organized by local tourist resorts.

Jarawa Tribe village with tourist paved road

Children hang around by the road and men sometimes try to trade wild honey they have gathered for packets of biscuits

The development of various human safaris by local tour operators on the island has not gone unnoticed by the Indian government. UNESCO and various NGOs have put pressure on the government to amend some of the current practices but to little effect. In fact, a statement from local MP Bishnu Pada Ray back in April 2012 has suggested the Jarawa may be willing to consider coming into the mainstream (which may suggest legitimizing further intervention).

Regardless, India has seemingly failed to learn from history’s past mistakes by allowing private operators to continue tours reminiscent of the late 19th and early 20th centuries human zoo exhibitions.

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