The Jarawa people of the Andaman Islands
Ms Maneka Gandhi,
Minister of Welfare,
New Delhi 110 001,
Shri. I. P. Gupta,
Andaman and Nicobar Islands,
Port Blair 744 101,
3 September 1999
I have heard of the Public Interest Litigation case, filed by a lawyer in the Andaman
Islands, that asks for the forcible resettlement of the Jarawa.
When such nomadic people have in the past been forcibly resettled, the results for
those people have been quite disastrous. For example, the Great Andamanese
population fell from 5,000 to only 28 when they were settled, and likewise the Onga
population fell from 670 to 97.
It is my belief that the Jarawa should be allowed the right to continue living in the
way they have done for perhaps thousands of years. They also have a right to own
their ancestral land.
I hope that our 'modern civilisation' can learn from its past mistakes and treat those
people with different ways of life with the respect that they deserve, and to allow
them the basic human rights that we ourselves expect.
Mr Owen Lydiard
- The Times of India, New Delhi,
- The High Commissioner for India, London.