My interest in these tribes have spanned for years and especially during the time when my father paid a visit to the islands for official work and clicked a picture of a tribal kid sitting on his lap. The visit was in early in the year 2000 and since then a lot has changed.
Today, one must consider oneself lucky if they spot a Jarawa. During our trip to Baratanga, we could not spot even one of them.
But as we returned, we couldn’t believe our eyes, as we not only spotted small Jarawa kids carrying fruits but also adults who were returning with their hunt. They wore almost nothing and used leaves to cover their modesty. They had bows and arrows. As our car passed, one of them motioned us to move quickly as he smiled, while the other patiently waited as he had a calm demeanour on his face and stood in a suave manner with his hunt lying near his legs. You could see their settlements and the feeling of seeing these people taught us so many things. These tribes not only symbolise survival, they also teach us a lesson on how one can remain at peace with nature.
It is safe to say that Jarawas and various other tribes in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a part of our ecosystem and it is worthy to see the government taking good care of them. It is important from our side to make sure that the population which is already meagre in number doesn’t go down further and that is possible by letting them stay in peace.
As I sat down in the aircraft and bid goodbye to Andaman. I could only reflect on what each of those islands had to signify. If Have lock was all about fun and letting you loose, Neil Island was more of a place with meditative qualities, where one could just sit down and become one with nature. Baratanga taught lessons about survival and how one can not only take from nature but give back a lot to it as well. Port Blair for me was not a mere capital town but a place where you get to feast on the world’s best Biryani (visit A and M restaurant), a place which despite being miles away from the mainland carries with itself the story of our independence and what an important role Andaman has played in shaping history we see today. And most importantly Andaman probably disclosed the face of real secularism where every community, religion lived not only in peace and harmony but rather as one family.
Some of the most beautiful parts of India lies in the chain of islands in Bay of Bengal. Far away from the mainland, yet a part of our history and culture, which for me is the Southern heaven of India, known as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.