Must acknowledge the unique identity of islands, says Pankaj Sekhsaria
Pankaj Sekhsaria, an environmentalist with a keen interest in the state of environmental, social and political affairs of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is about to release his book, ‘Islands in Flux: The Andaman and Nicobar Story’ in Pune.pune Updated: Dec 29, 2017 16:54 IST
After two decades of research, Pankaj Sekhsaria, an environmentalist with a keen interest in the state of environmental, social and political affairs of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is about to release his book, ‘Islands in Flux: The Andaman and Nicobar Story’ in Pune. He speaks to Ananya Barua ahead of his book release. The book will be released on December 30, from 11 am at Pagdandi Books Chai Cafe, Baner.
What are the major themes dealt with in your book?
Islands in Flux is a book that brings together my journalistic and research-based writing about the Andaman and Nicobar Islands over the last two decades. The attempt is to bring together the wide range of experiences, issues and challenges that constitute the islands. These are subjects I have been writing about since the mid 90s for a range of English publications in India and I realised that there is a considerably vast terrain that these articles have covered.
What was your driving force to shed light on the issues of these islands?
In recent years, it has also been frustrating for me to see that many of these issues have been discussed in various fora, including in my own writings in the past, and yet none of these are seen reflected in new proposals, statements and policies being put forward by politicians, ministers, and the administration. The whole discussion has to be started from scratch. This was one of the most crucial driving forces for me.
Talking about the ‘flux’, could you please tell us the back story behind this book and your journey into writing this?
The idea of flux is absolutely central to the book and I suggest that there are three levels of flux that the islands are facing -- socio-cultural, ecological and most important, perhaps, geological. Each is dependent on the other and at the same time intricately linked. Geological flux is critical in the islands, located in one of the most seismically active zones. For the last 50 years, we have not acknowledged these independent, but connected realities.
What is the reason behind marginalisation of islands?
Part of the problem, I think, is that the Islands continue to be known for only three or four major things – Cellular Jail and the freedom struggle, as a tourism destination and more recently for the tsunami or the controversies surrounding the indigenous Jarawa community of the islands. They are seen as an adjunct to India’s superpower aspirations and we are forgetting that they have an unique identity that deserves acknowledgement.