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Troubled Islands

The Andamans are threatened by 'development' and 'civilisation'. A look at how the these are detrimantal to the islands.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2003 10:07 IST

Troubled Islands
Pankaj Sekhsaria

Kalpavriksh, LEAD-India
2003
Sociology
Pages: 90
Price: Rs 100
Paperback

The Andamans, or to give their proper name, Andaman and Nicobar Islands face threats as never before in the long history of the islands.

Long history? Didn't it start with the British, who 'civilized' the islands? That may be the general impression, but it is far from the truth, as this slim volume on the islands forcefully brings out.

The author, who has been spent considerable time researching on the islands, seeks to highlight the pathetic condition of both the islands and the 'tribals' on them, through this collection of articles. There are actually groups that have got almost exterminated due to the excess 'development activity carried out after 1947.

Starting with a brief background of the islands, Sekhsaria's articles look into the history of alienation for the islands, and the islanders. The history of logging, which led to massive destruction of forests, and therefore the destruction of habitats for both humans and many flora and fauna, is well brought out.

Perhaps the most touching parts of the book however are the parts about the tribes - the Jarawas, the Onges, the Sentinelese, the Great Andamanese, all of whom have seen a massive reduction in their numbers. And the lifestyle alterations that these changes have forced on the people.

The book makes a great case for the implementation of the Supreme Court orders of 2002, many of which remain unimplemented.

What it brings out even more forcefully is something environmentalists across the world have been stressing upon, the havoc that development can wreak, especially in relatively small ecosystems. A must read.