VOL: 35 n ISSUE: 24 n FRIDAY n 13 JANUARY 2012 PORT BLAIR n Rs. 5.00 n PAGES 8 n RNI No. 28480/75 POSTAL REGN NO. PBLRNP/08/2008-2010 www.lightofandamans.blogspot.com
E V I S U L C X E
JARAWA DANCE VIDEO
INVOLVED THE FAÇADE OF
JARAWAS North and Middle Andaman District
SHIFT THE GOAL POST
THE LIGHT OF ANDAMANS, Port Blair
Adhyaksh ZP Raises Issues About CentralSchemes with Minister BY STAFF REPORTER
he visits of Central Ministers to the Islands give the Islanders as well as the PRI representatives an opportunity to interact with them and present their grievances. However, it is learnt that in most cases, the ministers are kept in dark or the required forums are not provided by the Administration. They are quickly packed to some tourism destinations with one or two photo-ops with the Lieutenant Governor. The programmes are scheduled in such a manner that they spend very less time giving the Islanders an opportunity to meet them. In a recent incident, when Pradeep Kumar Jain Aditya, MoS, Ministry of Rural Development visited the Islands, the PRIs or the nodal institutions working in the rural development sector were not allowed any meeting. He was quickly sent to Havelock Island on the same afternoon, he arrived here. Balakrishnan Nair, Adhyaksh, Zilla Parishad, had to intervene and interrupt the minister at Cellular Jail to submit a list of issues relatd with the implementation and execution of centrally sponsored poverty alleviation programmes. In a representation submitted to the Minister, he raised many relevant issues. On MGNREGA wage rate for unskilled Agriculture labourers, the Adhyaksh highlighted that since Ist January 2011, the MGNREGA beneficiaries wages for unskilled labourers were reduced to Rs.170/-, whereas the wage as per the State Minimum wage for unskilled labour is Rs.205/- per day. In view of the high cost of living in these remote and geographically difficult islands, he advised to increase the MGNREGA wage rate for unskilled workers at par with that of the State Minimum wage. He also highlighted that MGNREGA scheme should be used for creation of Durable Assets by incorporating materials in the civil works. The MoRD has stipulated 60:40 wage:material ratio for all works. As the cost index is very high in these geographically difficult and scattered Islands, it is difficult to maintain this ratio. He requested for relaxation to the Islands as regards to this ratio or the materials required to be provided at a subsidized rate by the
developmental departments. He sought the intervention of the minister for strengthening of MIS by providing better infrastructure to PRI's for computerized reporting of MGNREGA to the Ministry as online proposals are mandatory for future funds release. Arrangements for leased internet line may kindly be obtained from BSNL and all Gram Panchayats to be provided personnel and computers linked through LAN with Blocks. The Blocks are to be networked with servers at district level. This will enable in better transparency and faster generation of reports enabling effective implementation of MGNREGA and other RD schemes too. Funding may be provided for this by the ministry. This can be incorporated with the IT hub coming up after of laying of undersea optic fibre cables connecting major inhabitated Islands with State level servers. Due to lack of funds under Indira Awas Yojana scheme with the DRDA, South Andaman district, application for sanction of financial assistance, for 1st Installment, and final payments of many poor Below Poverty Line beneficiaries are pending. He requested for immediate release of funds for the above purpose from the MoRD, GoI. Majority of land holding in occupation of Islanders is under joint name. This acts as a con-
straint in availing facilities of schemes like IAY. Further, majority of BPL beneficiaries are landless or old encroachers of pre-61 and pre-78 awaiting regulariza-
tion of their land. These people are eligible for electric and water connection but cannot avail IAY. He also requested relaxation in the norms to such BPL families.
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During the year 2010, for the implementation of centrally sponsored scheme of Total Sanitation campaign, house to house survey was conducted for providing individual sanitary latrines for BPL and APL families, latrines for institutional building and for creation of community assets, including solid and liquid waste management were assessed and a two year annual action plan with necessary fund requisition duly approved by the Zila Parishad and the administration was forwarded to the MoRD. Funds for the same needs to be released for implementation of TSC, Balakrishnan demanded. On the revision of pay structure of MGNREGA functionaries, he informed the Minister that the salaries of MGNREGA contractual staff at the Gram Panchayats, Block level and others is less than half compared to salaries of the same rank of staff under NRHM and other centrally assisted schemes. The cost of living, maintaining of timelines in planning and execution, and maintaining greater transparency measures without sufficient remuneration to the staff is a major impediment in effective implementation of the scheme as well as morale of the contractual staff. He requested the Minister to revise the pay structure for these remote and geographically difficult islands. Speaking to LOA, Balakrishnan Nair said that the Minister has shown keen interest in the matter and has assured action on the points raised.
Clumsy Investigation BY STAFF REPORTER
ts all fingers and thumbs in the investigation into the Jarawa dance video controversy as proper coordination is not visible among the agencies working for the welfare and protection of Jarawas. Andaman Adim Janjathi Vikas Samiti (AAJVS) is an autonomous body which looks after the Jarawa tribe. Police and Forest Department are the other two agencies who help them in the protection of the tribe as well as their Reserve. The Administration had announced a probe into the incident with a Deputy Superintendent of Police as its head. When there is a chance of breach on the part of police, AAJVS and Forest, these agencies cannot be part of the investigation. The probe should have been done by an independent
agency or commission. As the police have already initiated the investigation, without any official coordination of other two agencies, there are chances of pointing fingers and blame-game. Moreover, in a statement issued by the DGP, he has pointed towards a man wearing camouflaged dress, but he did not mention about the role of any army personnel. He may be waiting for concrete evidence. In the meanwhile, another
expose has come to the fore. A complaint was filed with the Directorate of Tribal Welfare by Arvind Rai Sharma on 29 September 2011 regarding circulation of a CD by a tour operator who had used the Jarawas in various poses. It is learnt from the complaint that properly choreographed dances and ramp walk of Jarawas were organised by the videographer. The Directorate had forwarded the complaint to the police for immediate action, which never happened.
THE LIGHT OF ANDAMANS, Port Blair
The Façade of Mainstreaming Jarawas BY ZUBAIR AHMED
here is a story of a disappointed man. He was blind. Everyone helped him. Whenever he had to cross the road, someone assisted him. People gave him free food and clothing. He was a satisfied man and thought how good people around him were. He wished he had eyes to see the beautiful and good people around him. One day while crossing the road, a car hit him. The car was driven by an ophthalmic surgeon. He felt bad and took the blind man to his clinic. He found out that it was a very small ailment, which had made the man blind and could be easily treated. He was operated free of cost. And he got his sight back. But, people no more helped him or gave him free food or clothing. He became a disappointed man. He now knew that the world was not as good as he thought. Without any outside intervention, the Jarawas today lead a satisfied and content life. Whenever, there is PAT violation or breach on Andaman Trunk Road, the focus shifts to the debate on mainstreaming of Jarawas. The gradual inclusion or integration of the Jarawas into the mainstream society has always been the focal point of the debate about Jarawas. Last week, Tribal Affairs Minister Krishna Chandra Deo said that he is in favour of gradual inclusion. He also said that Jarawas lead a beastly life in the forests. This is the crisis Jarawas are
facing today. Their life is being debated at various forums without an iota of truth about the ground reality. How come they reached the conclusion that Jarawas lead a beastly life? If a minister who is their guardian says such frivolous things, how can one expect fair assesment in their decisions? The debate that we are privileged and Jarawas are underprivileged is another notion which cannot be substantiated.
nature, they shuttle in their forests from Lewis Inlet to Constance Bay. From Kadamtala to Tirur, travelling through the forest is not a taxing one for them. They don't need to stretch like us after a tiring journey of two-hours on Andaman Trunk Road. They are also not bedazzled by our speeding cars and boats. It's a good sign that their population is increasing. The Administration is quite happy and vocal about it. Numbering about
13 JANUARY 2012
The case of Nicobarese is quoted frequently suggesting mainstreaming of the Jarawas. In fact, it took more than two centuries for the Nicobarese to reach the position they enjoy today. Still, there is an inner-line permit system existing. Why cannot we allow the same time-span for the Jarawas too? It is surprising that we cannot find a tailor, a barber or a blacksmith among the Nicobarese, though they need all these services to cope up with the lifestyle they have adopted from us. They are also very bad agriculturists as far as the kind of food culture they have adopted from us. They have become dependent on the outer-world for all such needs, that too after two centuries of their interaction with the outer world. Why we are in a haste suggesting forced mainstreaming of tribe who came into contact with the outer world just a decade ago? How can we forget the case of Great Andamanese, who were the victims of forced integration? Jarawas need to shed their
Assimilation of Jarawas is just a façade to continue our supremacy on a tribe which is not used to our ways of life. We forget that it's a very thin line between assimilation and annihilation. Gradual inclusion is inevitable, but can we define the timeframe? It might take 100 years or more like the Nicobarese, whom we have made dependent on us for most of their needs. Jarawas are a content tribe leading a peaceful life in their forests with ample food resource base. However, unrelented plundering of their resources by the poachers, local and foreign, if continues unabated, it will only help in depleting their resource base. Many incidents go unnoticed such as hunting and fishing in their territory, and when such cases are detected, politicians of all hues come to the rescue of the culprits. In the same vein, they will harp about mainstreaming of Jarawas. An intelligent tribe which has lived for centuries in their forests is now at crossroads. Nomadic in
400, there has been increase in their population in the last decade. The population has increased not because they started mingling, but they are still protected from the invasion of outside world, and not the other way around. The total reserve of 1208 sq kms for 400 Jarawas is quite sufficient for hunting and gathering. The fear that their resources are depleting and they are hungry is totally unfounded. As they don’t have permanent shelters and are not settled in a place, it would be preposterous to think about the kind of development that we have for ourselves.
nomadic nature to even think about agriculture, education and other vocations that we prefer them to adopt. Once their population increases and they feel the need to settle down and think about individual ownership, they might take up other livelihood options other than hunting, fishing and gathering. If we look at the technology that Jarawas use for their day to day requirement, we will feel ashamed of our development and progress. We need refrigeration to keep our food fresh, whereas Jarawas keep smoking the meat under fire which is kept burning by the fat of the meat of boar to
keep the flies away. They preserve the meat for more than 15 days without decay. The civilised world goes wary as soon as electricity goes off. We become cut off from our so-called mainstream. Jarawas travel by foot hundreds of miles through the dense forest without clothe on them. Rain and shine does not make them dependent on anything outside. We need winter and summer clothing to protect ourselves from the miseries of climate. We are so much dependent on different things and we call ourselves privileged and civilised. On the contrary, Jarawas are independent without any kind of class struggle and injustice which we can just dream of. There is no hypertension, diabetes or the diseases bestowed by our lifestyle. Assimilation of Jarawas is just a façade to continue our supremacy on a tribe which is not used to our ways of life. We forget that it's a very thin line between assimilation and annihilation. Gradual inclusion is inevitable, but can we define the timeframe? It might take 100 years or more like the Nicobarese, whom we have made dependent on us for most of their needs. In the first instance, the focus should be on the protection of the Jarawas and their territory from both poachers and bad influence of the outside population. Once their population increase, which might take a century or more, they might be in a position to decide for themselves. Jarawas too are aware of the cultural loss they are enduring. It is heartening to learn that the Jarawas in Kadamtala have decided themselves not to speak in Hindi language in front of their children. The road and the markets that Jarawas frequent have spoiled their language. The unjustified haste that we show today is not in favour of Jarawas but to conceal our failure in containing our greed and the fear of losing our comfortable life. Instead of imposing our mainstream on them, let Jarawas constitute their own mainstream.
Give Exemplary Punishment to Culprits: LG
t Governor, Bhopinder Singh has expressed his deep anguish by the shocking video showing members of our Jarawa tribes in the most sad and unfortunate circumstances, a most deplorable and disgraceful act against humanity. He has directed the Director General of Police to complete the investigations on a fast track to nab the culprits so that they
can be meted out exemplary punishment. The Lt Governor pointed out that in recent years, the Administration has taken various measures for the protection and welfare of our Jarawa tribes and other indigenous tribes. For the first time in 150 years of settlement, the actual number of Jarawa population has gone up by 40% in the last ten years. The
Administration has carefully addressed over 1500 medical requirements of the Jarawas as and when sought by the Jarawas themselves with exclusive wards dedicated to them to ensure sensitivity of handling their cases in the clinics and hospitals. Over the past many years, the Jarawas and the non-tribal population have been living in a very peaceful and harmonious
manner in their respective areas. However, an incident of this nature by some mischievous elements will not only create a misunderstanding and rift amongst the tribals and the nontribal population but will also shame our islanders in particular and our country in general. Therefore there is a need to weed out these bad elements from our Islands which enjoy
the reputation of being a very peaceful, secular and a unique model of unity in diversity to the entire world. The Lt Governor has directed the Director General of Police to launch a crack down on all such dubious tour operators and their accomplices to ensure the utmost protection, dignity and welfare of our indigenous and primitive tribes.
THE LIGHT OF ANDAMANS, Port Blair
13 JANUARY 2012
JARAWA DANCE VIDEO
INVOLVED BY ZUBAIR AHMED
he Jarawa dance video, which created hue and cry in the international and national media and forced the Government of India and Andaman and Nicobar Administration to order a probe, was actually shot by a group of army personnel. In an independent investigation by LOA, it has come to the fore that police and ground staff of Andaman Aadim Janjathi Vikas Samithi (AAJVS) were not aware as the video was shot after the last convoy left Middle Strait. Contrary to the statements released to the media by the Administration, the video was shot three years back on 6th November 2008, in which two vehicles - a truck and a gypsy belonging to army were involved. In a release, S B Deol, DGP had said that the video was 10 years old and there were no cop in the video. He had also pointed out that a man with camouflaged uniform was visible in the media. However, he did not mention anyrole of defence personnel. LOA has identified the Jarawa women and girls featuring in the video, which was shot at a place about 8 kms from Jirkatang, known as Chowdhary Gumai. There were six Jarawa women including a pregnant lady, who was shown fully naked. Thadul (16 years) daughter of Thadang, Ecnchobecha (14) d/o Thadang, Cheddatokula (35) wife of Whaydom and Aninja (13) d/o Whaydom featured in the video. Enepowaiele (21) w/o Mahe was 7-8 months pregnant when the video was shot. She gave birth to a baby girl Wane on 6 February 2009. The army personnel traveling in a military truck had waited for the last convoy to pass from Middle Strait and with special permission traveled on the road. It has also
come to light that Jarawas mostly belonging to Tirur sector has a Chadda (Jarawa Hut) very close to the place. Jarawas, still a nomadic community travel from Tirur to Kadamtala and back frequently. They use the temporary chaddas on the way. The Jarawas in Kadamtala and Middle Strait were able to identify the Jarawa women featuring in the video and the place where it took place. Enepowaiele, the pregnant woman in the video, who is 24 years now has confirmed to a reliable source about the incident and involvement of army personnel. However, this does not vindicate the police force present at Middle Strait who allowed the military truck to pass after the last convoy had departed from Middle Strait. The thumb rule is not to allow anybody except AAJVS, Police and Forest personnel dealing with the protection and welfare of Jarawas of specific territorial jurisdiction. This raises a serious question how army personnel, who were on a tour to Baratang could stop inside the Reserve and shoot the video exploiting the vulnerability of a
Chowdhary Gumai, where the video was shot
Why MoRD Team Visited Jarawa Tribes at Tirur? W
hat was the team from Ministry of Rural Development visiting the Islands to evaluate the Best Performing District under MGNREGA doing at Tirur Chadda of Jarawas at 6.00 pm on 7th January 2012? The team led by
B K Saxena, Retd Chief Secretary, Bihar, Dr Rajesh Mal, Consultant, Dr Pradeep, Dean TISS, S K Singh, Director, MoRD and Nilairanjan, Coordinator visited the Jarawa shelter (Chadda) located at Tirur. Such excursions by visiting
tribe who are at crossroads, unaware of the dangers it poses to their life and culture. The story about the video published by The Guardian/Observer, London was later picked by the national media and highlighted the plight of the Jarawas. Soon after the expose by news channels, Shakti Sinha, Chief Secretary, ANI Admn had rebutted the episode saying that over the past decade, the population of the Jarawas has increased for the first time since they first came into contact with the outside world 150 years ago. He also said that a Tribal Reserve has been increased from 847 sq kms to 1028 sq kms. Speaking to a news channel, Prof Shekhar Singh said that the Lieutenant Governor and the Administration should be put on dock on the issue of contempt of court as the Administration has kept the Andaman Trunk Road open even after the Supreme Court's Order of May 2002. The issue has also created a ruckus among the politicians and the settler communities who blamed foul play in the timing of the video saying that it was intentionally done to close Andaman Trunk Road, which they claim to be a lifeline. VIPs and Officials cannot happen without the knowledge of the concerned department and officials. For years guests of Raj Nivas too had paid visit to the Jarawa territory to watch the Jarawas. It includes visiting officials as well as guests. Jarawas might not be a curious object for the local settlers. They venture into the reserve for plundering the resources which attract punishment under PAT regulations.
THE LIGHT OF ANDAMANS, Port Blair
North and Middle Andaman District
Shift the Goal Post BY ABU ARSH
ajor bone of contention for the Andaman and Nicobar Administration is the closure of Andaman Trunk Road passing through the heart of Jarawa Tribal Reserve. This road is believed to be the life line of the Islands for the people of North and Middle Andaman District, which when closed would be a decision that would be anti-settler and anti development as contrived by the political class here and nodded with approval by the bureaucrats, even at the cost of contempt of court of the highest judicial body of our country for over a decade. It is common knowledge that policy makers since half a century have formulated Island development policies under total ignorance of the safeguards to be pursued for the Primitive Tribal Group's conservation. Concrete efforts in sensitizing the Panchayati Raj Institutions and settlers on Jarawa Policy have not ever been pursued. Feasibility reports on assessment of alternate viable modes of transportation are never completed in the stipulated time as per the terms and conditions laid down by the Administration. Consultants/ agencies awarded such studies are products of nepotism of the high and the mighty. Administration for long has tried an ostrich with its head in the sand approach led by migratory bureaucrats all of which is haunting it now. The Jarawas have an uncanny knack of hogging the limelight right when we believe that its curtains for them. The young, educated, present generation of the settlers especially whose parents and grand parents were settled under various rehabilitation schemes of Government of India have started thinking out of the box. PTG's conservation as a unique World Human Heritage is of paramount importance to them. Development at the cost of total annihilation of the Jarawas is not palatable to them. They are aware that a political solution to this problem is virtually impossible without irreversible damage to the PTG's survival and further division of the civilized society on linguistic or regional lines. A judicial solution would always be just and humanitarian but its implementation has been delayed by vested interests in settling personal scores with rival politicians or
business houses leading to mayhem. Crucial time has been wasted by the administration in not working simultaneously on creating infrastructure and facilities which would have caused less resentment among the settlers in the event of honouring the court orders. With great difficulty a separate district of North and Middle Andaman was created amidst its
The focus from ATR should shift to development of North and Middle Andamans. Mayabunder should be declared a Municipality and collection of Octroi can bring much-needed revenue to the local self-government institution fair share of political controversies and bureaucratic red tapism. It finally has a separate Zilla Parishad, a degree college, a judicial court, a hospital, a few ports and helipads, a small airstrip and a few other facilities but is totally dependent on Port Blair for all its basic needs. For every other eventuality its residents are to rush to Port Blair, be it proceeding to mainland for higher education or super-specialist medical treatment at metros. Traveling to Port Blair and the time it takes to reach here have at times has been a nightmare causing loss of life and lost opportunities in emergency situations due to lack of infrastructure. Traders sitting at Port Blair control their markets and cost of living are much higher for all basic commodities. There is always resentment in the settlers at being a step behind the South Andamanians. Administration cannot continue with the ghost of closure of ATR and its infamous Buffer Zone to torment the Islanders. It has to find ways in building up the North-Middle Andamans as a self sufficient and prosperous new hub for development with direct connectivity to the mainland by developing basic infrastructure at the newly created district of North and Middle Andaman for facilitating direct business links with mainland India both by Air and
Sea. Alternate, faster Air and Sea routes and mode of transport are to be developed from Port Blair to North and Middle Andaman District. The District has to have its own FCI godowns along with IOC bunks and developing of Infrastructure for PDS, fuel and essential commodities storage and distribution. The administration should upgrade Dr. R.P. Hospital at Mayabunder as a referral hospital to the level of GB Pant Hospital. Valuable time has already been lost by the administration and its migratory bureaucracy in entangling the whole Jarawa issue into major catastrophe with the inevitable happening. The Member of Parliament and the administration speak different language on the fate of the ATR. The MP at the moment sounds realistic and also elated with the prospect of fodder for his smear campaign virtually gifted to him. On the other hand, the administration is making commitments with assurances, over the outcome of which they have no control. The political as well as civil society organizations based in North and Middle Andamans has to demand for equitable development of their district at par with South Andaman District. The Andaman Trunk Road remains a major roadblock for the development of the district, which some politicians in N&M Andamans want to be declared as a backward district. The focus should be to develop the Degree College at Mayabunder at par with JNRM, R P Hospital at par with GB Pant Hospital, develop the harbour and port infrastructure at Mayabunder and the airstrip at Diglipur. The focus from closure of ATR should shift to development of North and Middle Andamans. Mayabunder should be declared a Municipality and collection of Octroi can bring much-needed revenue to the local self-government institution. Andaman Trunk Road has remained open for last decade in violation to the Supreme Court Order. It might remain open for a while but the economic situation of the district is not going to improve. The overall development of the District will make it independent and self-sufficient, and reducing its dependency on Port Blair and South Andaman, connected by the most controversial Andaman Trunk Road.
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isit of a minister from the Union of India to its far flung and geographically detached union territory is an occasion most of us Islanders have grown up looking forward to. Unfortunately, of late due to various reasons including security concern, tour itinerary and other commitments, it's only through govt. media that we come to know someone has come and gone back to Delhi. These high profile visitors being ministers and senior bureaucrats are all part of the decision making bodies at the seat of power at New Delhi for welfare of its subjects including these islands along with the rest of country. It's not surprising that we get vague policies and programmes which have no input from the local stakeholders or their representatives. The modus operandi of our bureaucrats and its protocol officer who plan the tour itineraries of our VIP ministers and officials make sure there is least possible exposure of them with the local media, public representatives or general public. Recent visit of two young Turks of the UPA govt. to the islands are testimony to the fact that all is not well with the Administration. Milind Deora and Pradeep Jain Aditya are both Ministers of State, Govt. of India. Deora being the MoS for Communications and Information Technology and Jain Aditya for Rural Development are very important ministers for us islanders too. These two are known to be future of Indian politics and belong to an inner coterie of the crown prince of the Gandhi legacy - Rahul Gandhi, who as we all know, is a big name in this country and we could've hoped for redressal of our concerns if issues reach the higher echelons of power at New Delhi. In drawing a tour itinerary of these VIP's where in great amount of money is drained from the public exchequer just for pleasure tours for their families and entourage without interaction with the local population is to cheat and dupe the public. Jain Aditya landed at Port Blair around noon on 2nd January 2012, he was immediately whisked away to Raj Niwas. He and his family were offered time only to freshen up, not even allowed to have lunch as it was packed to be had at the waiting VIP boat of the Administrator bound for Havelock. A few senior public representatives of the Island's grass root democratic bodies sought an appointment
with the Rural Development, MoS but in came the Protocol Officer, with his unwritten code of conduct wherein a Minister can only be met with the permission of the Administrator or the Chief Secretary even if you happen to be a person of the status of Zilla Parishad, Adhyaksh. At Havelock where innumerable ministers and senior bureaucrats visit quite frequently away from public glare not much has happened even for its development apart from a few of them acquiring a nami or benami property. Enjoying the administration's hospitality and doing nothing worthwhile at Havelock, the minister and his entourage headed back to Port Blair with a mandatory and customary visit to the national memorialCellular jail moments before taking off for his return journey back. Meanwhile a determined Adhyaksh with his representation for effective and efficient implementation of centrally sponsored flagship programmes for Rural Development made a last ditch effort to meet the Minister at the corridors of the cellular jail where the Minister's son was busy clicking away snaps of our great national heroes for his mates back at Delhi. Adhyaksh too moves around in a lal batti as per protocol here but his meeting and discussions were on foot strolling around the infamous jail of the erstwhile Kalapani. The minister was impressed by the Adhyaksh and seriousness of the issues raised by him. Moment's later minister was Delhi bound and another VIP had visited the Islands. This is the way our Bureaucracy functions as we have inherited the British system of Bureaucracy aptly portrayed in Yes Minister a satirical series first transmitted by BBC Television between 1980-1982 and 1984. As the series revolves around the inner workings of central government, most of the scenes take place in private locations, such as offices and exclusive members' clubs because government does not take place in the House of Commons (Lok Sabha for us). Some politics and much theatre take place there. Government happens in private. As in all public performances, the real work is done in rehearsal, behind closed doors. Then the public and the House are shown what the government wishes them to see. Lets all gear up to welcome M.A. Chidambaram, Home Minister of the Union of India from our living rooms.
THE LIGHT OF ANDAMANS, Port Blair
Na kuch kehte hi banta hai, Na chup rehte hi banta hai Hamara bhee to is mitti se aakhir wastha hai kuch - (Raz Andamani)
Comrade HN Parial: An Exemplary Leader BY BASUDEV DASS
13 January 2012 | Vol 35 Issue 23
Jarawas in Limelight ndaman and Nicobar Islands attract media glare for two reasons - Tsunami and Jarawas. On 6th evening when the debate on Jarawa video was broadcast on a news channel, the breaking news was about a 7.5 M earthquake in Sumatra and a warning for a local tsunami. Fortunately, the tsunami warning was soon withdrawn. But, the Jarawa dance video issue caught the attention of the whole nation. Although this was not the first such video of the Jarawas, this became the video, which is being investigated now. As reported in our cover story, Jarawas have told that the perpetrators of this crime were army personnel, it would be prudent to record the statement of Jarawas and there is a precedent of Jarawas recording their statement as in the case of Tirur in 2008, in which the authorities conducted the court proceedings in Jarawa Reserve so that the Jarawas version could also be brought to the notice. The controversy once again brought Andaman Trunk Road to the centre-stage with experts associated with Andaman tribals advocating for closure of road, as the ANI Admn has been buying time not implementing the Supreme Court Order of May 2002. The Administration had to immediately get into firefighting mode, but could not contain the flare up. The Central government too tried damage control. The irony is that the A&N Administration and the Govt of India work in different layers. Only the lowest layer knows the ground reality but they do not have any voice in the decision making. The middle level is an opportunistic one that works solely to butter its bread. The upper layer is migratory one that concerns itself only during the brief period of stay in the islands. And nobody wants to shoulder the responsibility of framing a policy for the Jarawas. Widespread ignorance about the state of Jarawas gave everyone a chance to speak on the subject and the majority of them were seen suggesting mainstreaming of Jarawas. This controversy gave politicians like Bishnu Pada Ray an opportunity to start a new campaign creating panic among the settlers trying to convince the Islanders that the Govt of India is keen on closing Andaman Trunk Road and he also challenged the bureaucrats of ANI Admn for a televised debate. Bharatiya Janta Party too jumped into the fray and condemned the incident and has come out openly in support of Andaman Trunk Road and also announced agitation if the road is closed. Congress party is silent on the issue and has not made its stand clear yet. The whole focus of the issue has diverted with the discussion on the video clip, whereas, Jarawas in Tirur needs immediate attention as the level of interaction with the villagers have increased. There are complaints of rampant violation of PAT Regulations. Settlers venture into the Reserve for hunting and to extract forest resources. Exploitation of Jarawas had made the Administration to sit and revise the PAT regulations making the punishment very stringent and exemplary. The increase in Buffer Zone was another controversial step taken by the Administration to protect the Jarawas. Both issues are criticized by the PRIs as well as Politicians. Exemplary punishment in one instance will send a clear message that the Administration is serious in protecting the huma heritage known as Jarawas. But, do the administration have the willpower to pursue the case, if the army personnel are identified, who perpetrated the heinous crime, as it would create huge embarassment and also rift between the civil administration and the defence, the holy cow?
13 JANUARY 2012
ith his 'Never Say Die' attitude H.N. Parial till in his eighties had early engaged himself to the cause of welfare of common people in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. He had proved the saying 'every man should leave some memories behind' given by Swamy Vivekananda and would utter it on many occasions. He translated the statement into practice throughout his life barring last couple of months before saying adieu to this materialistic world on 5th January 2012. A cross-section of people, trade unions, workers' associations and political parties irrespective of their principle and policies paid rich tributes to the departed soul while mourning the death of Comrade H.N. Parial. Survived by his wife and two sons, Comrade Parial is perhaps the last Left stalwart of the Island who had always thought Right for the common people. His death will definitely prove a setback to the Left parties in the islands as he was one of the right thinking Left leader who acted above petty politics, accepted a very senior party leader from Congress. Born in 1929 at Chittagong, present Port City of Bangladesh, he was of a spirited character as he had seen and heard many great revolutionists who were groomed in the city of the then undivided Bengal and sacrificed their lives for the freedom of India. The revolutionary ingredients were distinctly evident in his long 50 years of dedicated service in the upliftment of the poor strata and underprivileged section of the society. Alighting in these islands in 1955, Parial joined government service under Andaman & Nicobar Administration. From the very preface of his service career in the then Marine Department, he raised voice against injustice fighting for the poor port labourers to provide them a better living condition. Further, during his posting at Mayabunder, Middle & North Andaman District he felt the immediate necessity to address various issues of concern pertaining to working conditions of Forest workers and other employees working in remote areas under the Administration.
The indifferent and arbitrary attitude of the then senior administrators further aggravated the desolations of the employees that stimulated HN Parial to make an uncompromising stand against the Administration by launching a strong movement while uniting the employees and workers working under different departments. Incidentally that was a crucial juncture when legendary trade unionist late PKS Prasad delivered a strong leadership in launching a mass movement by crafting Non-Gazetted Officers' (NGOs') Association in 1962. Obviously Parial jumped into the main stream of the movement under PKS. And then he never looked back in his fight for the needy and underprivileged workers and employees. He naturally invited the wrath of the Administration which had the lone weapon in its cover in guise of 'Transfer' ,and as a result, Parial was transferred to Diglipur in 1965. The action could not tame the firebrand leader and Parial during his 5-year stint in Diglipur gave a crucial leadership to Consumer Co-operative Movement in North and Middle Andaman and pioneered to establish a Co-operative Society Store maintained by the common people of Diglipur. Gradually HN Parial moved
upwards in hierarchical ladder of different associations and made his presence felt all over the islands. And came the glorious chapter of CPI(M), Andaman State Committee, when it attained majority in the Pradesh Council as well as in Port Blair Municipal Board. Parial took over the Chairmanship of PBMB during 1990-92. He will be immortal amidst the employees of the PBMB (now PBMC) for he was alone responsible for introduction of pension system for its employees and abolishing of "Manual clearing of Night Soil". New roadmap and water supply system to provide potable water to the citizens under PBMB in a better way are other achievements to be remembered. The other remarkable movements which either Parial lead or happened to be the key factor can be counted viz. Jhupri Andolan in 1966 followed by pay fixation of Forest Workers (1969), free seapassage with joining time and main initiators of causes viz. Andaman Special Allowance, Roaster for Seamen Union for Andaman recruit and Declaration of Port Blair as 'B' Class City. Indisputably, with his death, the islands have lost a visionary person full of zeal and vigor to serve the humanity by extending and promising better civic life.
THE LIGHT OF ANDAMANS, Port Blair
13 JANUARY 2012
SACRED | SPACE
MyWet Pants here is a nine-year-old kid sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. It’s never happened before, and he knows that when the boys find out he will never hear the end of it.. When the girls find out, they’ll never speak to him again as long as he lives. The boy believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his head down and prays this prayer, “Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now I’m dead meat.” He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered. As the teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled with water. Susie trips in
front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy’s lap. The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, “Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!” Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. The sympathy is wonderful. But as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to someone else – Susie. She tries to help, but they tell her to get out. “You’ve done enough, you klutz! ” Finally, at the end of the day, as they are waiting for the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and whispers, “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?” Susie whispers back, “I wet my pants once too.”
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THE LIGHT OF ANDAMANS, Port Blair
13 JANUARY 2012
chalte | CHALTE
Ke Buphar Jone...? he political leaders in Middle Andaman whenever get a chance to
Taddress the poor settlers in a public meeting would take them on a
world tour and keep them informed about the major happenings throughout the world. They would talk about the Arab Uprising, American daredevilry and the fall of Libyan leader, and also about GDP and inflation. They will be also informed about the intentions of China and how to remain well-prepared. The audience will remain glued to the stage digesting all the facts and figures and rue about the chaos throughout the world. One fine morning, sitting in a roadside hotel, sipping hot tea and taking deep shots from a beedi, somebody raised the issue of Buffer Zone. Caught unaware, one of the old man, who was a local leader shot back, “Ke Bupher Jone?” Who is this and where does he stay? “We have never seen anyone by that name in our village,” and he started enquiring about this guy by the name “Bupher Jone.” How can someone know about Buffer Zone, when the leaders are busy teaching world affairs. The level of ignorance about Buffer Zone is very among the settlers and Bishnuda has made it an issue, which he fels will redeem him in the coming Loksabha polls. Musafir
Tribal cure for malaria
ndian scientists will approach secluded food-gathering tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for malaria remedies. Alarmed over the rising incidence of drug-resistant, virulent strains of malaria, researchers have decided to venture into the forests and request the indigenous tribal islanders to share the secrets of the herbal blends they use to treat malaria. The project, funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), also aims to document and conserve the “community biodiversity” of the islands. “We have consulted the tribal council to help us with mediators and translators to meet the accessible Nicobarese tribes. There are a few other primitive tribes with many native medicine secrets. However, we will need permission to venture into their habitat,” said Dr P. Vijayachari , director of ICMR’s regional medical research center at Port Blair. Vector-borne diseases such as malaria, chikungunya and leptospirosis are public health concerns in the Andaman Islands. Chennai corporation and a few other southern pockets in Tamil Nadu are endemic to malarial infection all through the year. The parasite is developing a gradual resistance to the available allopathic drugs. “We are keen on documenting the different native concoctions and the techniques of combining these herbs, roots and barks in a digital bio-diversity registry, so that nobody else in the world can patent these remedies and claim them as their own.
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Published on Jan 17, 2012