The editorial “What future for Jarawas?” (June 21) on the inclusion of the Jarawa tribe in the itinerary of some tour operators was hard-hitting and timely. It is rightly critical of the tendency to showcase an indigenous tribe as a tourist attraction. The Jarawas are also human and have the right to a dignified life as do the people of the mainland. It is worth mentioning that such shameless tourism is conducted in metros too. A glaring example is ‘slum tourism' in Mumbai wherein guided tours are conducted to showcase life in Dharavi — the largest slum in Asia.
It is true that almost all those who operate tours to the Andaman Islands include a visit to Baratang in their package and promise the tourists that they can see at least one Jarawa. I must admit that I too showed some interest in sighting the Jarawas. But I asked myself: why should a man be so curious about seeing another? The life of the Jarawas is disturbed by such intrusions. Some people give tobacco to the tribals, who stand by the roadside as tourists pass through the grand trunk road. The government should take immediate action to discourage tour operators from conducting tours to Baratang.
It is a pity watching the state of the Jarawas along the Andaman grand trunk road which leads to Baratang. They can be seen begging on the roads. There have even been some hit and run cases. Such interaction with outsiders makes them extremely vulnerable.
U. Varun Nair,
The editorial throws light on the pathetic condition of the Jarawas, in particular, and indigenous tribal communities, in general. Despite the existence of laws, court verdicts and huge financial allocations, the tribal communities are on the brink of extinction. There is nothing wrong in making efforts to bring them into the modern era. But they should not lead to their virtual elimination.
N. Rajasekharan Nair,
In May, I went with my family to the Baratang Island as tourist to see the limestone caves and the mud volcano. We were told that we might see the Jarawas and were warned not to interact with them or take photographs. When we went near the forest areas, we saw Jarawa men, women and children with their traditional weapons. Some tried to stop the vehicles and asked for money. I do not think our visit threatened the Jarawas because we were interested in seeing the caves and the volcano. The local people of the Andaman Islands and the government should ensure that outsiders do not threaten the Jarawas who are unspoilt by the vagaries of modern civilisation.