Protect indigenous people
Mains Paper 2: Social Justice
Prelims level: Protect the tribals of the Andaman and Nicobar
Mains level: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the
Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
- The debates following the recent alleged killing of an American
national, John Allen Chau, by the Sentinelese have put the spotlight on the
vulnerability of an indigenous community that has lived for thousands of
years with little contact with outsiders.
- The Sentinelese have been more fortunate than the Jarawas, though.
- The Andaman Trunk Road, among other projects, has cut into the
heart of the Jarawa reserve, which has not only disturbed their ecological
environment but has also changed their lifestyle and dietary habits and
- There are four ancient Negrito tribal communities in the Andaman
Islands (the Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa and Sentinelese) and two
Mongoloid tribal communities in the Nicobar Islands (the Shompen and
- Except the Nicobarese, the populations of the other tribes have
reduced drastically over the decades.
What has been India’s policy towards these tribals?
- Jawaharlal Nehru’s Tribal Panchsheel were the guiding principles
after Independence to formulate policies for the indigenous communities of
the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Based on them, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of
Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation (ANPATR), 1956 was promulgated by the
- This Regulation protected the tribals from outside interference,
specified the limits of reserved areas and said no land in a reserved area
shall be allotted for agricultural purposes or sold or mortagaged to
- Those violating the land rights of the tribals were to be
imprisoned for one year, fined ₹1,000, or both.
- Despite this, there continued to be constant interactions between
the tribals and settlers/ outsiders.
Important steps taken by the government
- A policy of non-intervention was also proposed by an expert
committee on the directions of the Supreme Court. The committee submitted
its report in July 2003.
- The trigger for this was a 1999 petition that sought to bring the
Jarawas into the mainstream.
- The committee recommended protecting the Jarawas from harmful
contact with outsiders, preserving their cultural and social identity,
conserving their land and advocated sensitising settlers about the Jarawas.
- In 2005, nearly 50 years after it was promulgated, the ANPATR was
amended. The term of imprisonment as well as the fine were increased.
- However, in the years in between, the Andaman Trunk Road had
already ensured increased interaction with the tribals. In the case of the
Jarawas, this had led to the spread of diseases, sexual exploitation, and
- A policy for protecting the Shompen tribes was released only in
2015. However, in spite of the 2005 amendment, videos of commercial
exploitation of the Jarawas in the name of “human safaris” were widely
reported in the media. Following this,
- The government amended the ANPATR yet again in 2012, creating a
buffer zone contiguous to the Jarawa tribal reserve where commercial
establishments were prohibited, and regulating tourist operators.
- Despite all these amendments and provisions, there continue to be
numerous reports of civilian intrusion into the Jarawa tribal reserve.
- International policy has changed over the decades.
- While the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957, of
the International Labour Organisation (ILO) insisted on an integrationist
approach towards tribal communities.
- The 1989 convention insisted on a policy of non-intervention,
“recognising the aspirations of these peoples to exercise control over their
own institutions, ways of life and economic development.”
- India ratified the 1957 convention but has not ratified the 1989
- However, despite not signing it, India tried to tread the path of
- Therefore it puzzling that in August the government relaxed the
restricted area permit (RAP) for 29 islands in the Andaman and Nicobar,
including North Sentinel Island. If the government has decided to ease the
restrictions in a phased manner.
- This could adversely affect the indigenous population in the long
- The commercialisation of tribal spaces could lead to encroachment
of land, as we see in other parts of the country. Considering the
significance of the indigenous tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- The government needs to reorient its priorities towards protecting
them from outside influence.
- India needs to sign the 1989 convention of the ILO, and implement
its various policies to protect the rights of the indigenous population. It
should also make efforts to sensitise settlers and outsiders about them.
- That Chau was helped in his journey shows a lack of understanding
about the Sentinelese.
- Only concrete efforts can prevent such an incident from happening
Q.1) Which one of the following tribal groups is restricted to the islands
Q.1) What are the implementation of the various provisions to protect the
tribals of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has been poor?