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Approach Paper for the Jarawa Seminar

On the basis of the archaeological evidences in the forms of some stone tools, bone and shell artefacts, and potsherds, the Andaman Islands had possibly been inhabited since last two millennia (Dutta 1978:36; Cooper, 1990:99).
PTI | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON APR 09, 2004 12:35 PM IST

On the basis of the archaeological evidences in the forms of some stone tools, bone and shell artefacts, and potsherds, the Andaman Islands had possibly been inhabited since last two millennia (Dutta 1978:36; Cooper, 1990:99). Though the geographical location of the islands was known to the sailors during most part of the period, almost nothing was known about the islanders. Though we do not definitely know how the islands were peopled, close biological affinity between the Andaman Negritoes and the Negrtoes from Philippines and neighbouring regions of South-East Asia has been suggested (Nei and Ray Choudhury 1982; Omoto 1984).

Radcliffe Brown (1948) classified the Andaman Islanders into two broad groups on the basis of their linguistic and cultural affinities. The Jarawas, Radcliffe Brown thought, migrated at some point of time from the Little to Great Andaman islands. Probably this was the reason the Jarawas were in perpetual enmity with their neighbouring populations. The first phase of British settlement in the Andaman Islands was short-lived (1789 -1796); during that period the Jarawas behaved in a friendly manner with the colonisers. The second phase of colonisation (1858 onwards) started in a similar note. The Jarawas generally remained aloof of the settlers; only occasionally, they wounded some runaway convicts. The colonisers were bent upon 'befriending' all pre-­colonial people in the interest of the colonising programmes (Portman 1899:49). With this purpose, a number of expeditions were organised through many years, which ultimately took the shape of violent conflicts with the Jarawas. To implement different programmes of colonisation, the Jarawas were even evicted from their habitat.

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