India Exclusion Report 2015
A comprehensive, annually updated analysis on the exclusion of disadvantaged groups in India
ISBN: 978-93-82579-39-7 First Edition: 2016 [PDF 13 MB, 294 pages]
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The India Exclusion Report 2015 is supported by UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women. The opinions expressed in the Report do not relect the views of these organisations.
This is the second edition of the India Exclusion Report, for the year 2015. As with the irst Report 2013–14, the attempt of this highly collaborative, trans-disciplinary annual enterprise is to bring together experts from many fields—scholars, human rights and development workers, policy makers, and persons from disadvantaged communities—to examine the outcomes of public policy, law, programmes, budgets, institutions and their functioning for all peoples, and specifically for peoples of disadvantage.
The particular questions that these Exclusion Reports ask are: who, if anyone, is excluded—or adversely included—from equitable access to public goods, why and by what processes is such exclusion or adverse inclusion accomplished, and what can be done to change this to a more just and equitable set of outcomes? […]
The last group proiled in this Report is a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group from the Andaman Islands—the Jarawa, or as they describe themselves, the Ang. Numbering just 380 according to Census 2011, their very survival is threatened due to their active contact with the outside world over the last 25 years—and their situation is characteristic of, and holds lessons for, the situation of other uncontacted or recently contacted indigenous peoples, both in India and elsewhere.
In the context of the Jarawas, the report acknowledges that there are very few examples anywhere in the world of isolated indigenous communities with rich self-contained cultures and livelihood patterns being integrated with outside economies and cultures in ways that are genuinely voluntary, humane, just, non-exploitative and egalitarian. On the contrary, most such contacts have typically been of ‘adverse inclusion’, resulting in intense dispossession, sexual and economic exploitation, alarming health and nutrition declines as well as precarious survival. Some of these trends and dangers are already visible with the Jarawas, although they have voluntarily engaged with the outside world for only a quarter-century. Recognising these dangers, but also that contact with the outside world is now irreversible, the report makes detailed recommendations to protect the Ang from ‘adverse inclusion’, which include early and strict compliance with Supreme Court orders to close the Andaman Trunk Road, creation of sea routes as an alternative for other populations to use, stronger policing of the forests and waters of the reserve area against poachers and tourists, and ensuring that the community rights of the Ang to their forest reserve are legally recognised and codiied so that they are not reduced in the future. Above all, the report underlines the imperative to treat the tribe as equals, possessing the agency and wisdom to decide their best interests.
The picture that emerges from the report is in many ways grim and troubling, one that airms that there continue to be significant populations that are consistently and oten extremely deprived of access to public goods that are essential for a human life with dignity. Those who sufer these exclusions tend to be from communities that are historically disadvantaged by gender, caste, class, religion, disability and age. It underlines many structural barriers—of persisting patriarchy, macro-economic policy, the unjust design of laws and policies and their implementation—that create formidable barriers for women even today to access just conditions of work. Single women, those in caste-based occupations like the Devadasis, people who survive violence targeting their religion and ethnicity, and members of isolated tribes are vulnerable groups whose conditions this report especially tries to highlight. […]
The stories in this India Exclusion Report, and the last, are a sobering reminder that India continues to live the life of contradictions that Ambedkar spoke of so presciently six and a half decades ago. We persist in denying that last woman her equal value, her equal dignity. Indeed how long will we continue to do so?
The Jarawa of the Andamans
by Rhea John and Harsh Mander
India’s Andaman Islands are home to some of the most ancient, and until recently the most isolated, peoples in the world. Today barely a few hundred of these peoples survive. This report is about one of these ancient communities of the Andaman Islands, the Jarawa, or as they describe themselves, the Ang.
Until the 1970s, and even to a degree until the 1990s, the Jarawa people iercely and oten violently defended their forest homelands, ighting of a diverse range of incursions and ofers of ‘friendly’ contact—by other tribes-people, colonial rulers, convicts brought in from mainland India by the colonisers, the Japanese occupiers, independent India’s administration, and mainland communities settled on the islands by the Indian government. Since the 1990s, two of the three main Ang communities have altered their relationship with the outsider of many hues, accepting their ‘friendship’ and all that came with it, including health care support, clothes, foods like rice and bananas that were never part of their hunting-gathering existence, trinkets, roads, a range of intoxicants, tourists, and sexual and economic exploitation.
The conundrum of reporting in an Exclusion Report about a community like the Jarawa is that, in many ways, what we conventionally describe as ‘inclusion’ is actually exclusion—or what some scholars describe appropriately as ‘adverse inclusion’.1 he experience of other Andaman tribes like the Great Andamanese and the Onge highlight poignantly and sombrely the many harmful consequences of such inclusion. The continued dogged resistance of the Sentinelese to any contact with outsiders makes them perhaps the most isolated people in the world. On the other hand, the early adverse consequences of exposure of the Jarawa people to diseases and sexual exploitation by outsiders, suggest that safeguarding many forms of ‘exclusion’ may paradoxically constitute the best chance for the just and humane ‘inclusion’ of these highly vulnerable communities.
However, the optimal balance between isolation and contact with the outside world of such indigenous communities is something that no government in the modern world has yet succeeded in establishing. Perspectives about what indeed is in the best interest of hitherto isolated hunting- gathering communities continue to vary hugely.
The Great Andamanese, and to a lesser extent the Onge, demonstrate the consequences of adverse inclusion. The experience of ‘friendly contact’ of the Jarawa is much shorter: a little over two decades at the time of writing. The story is mixed so far. While there are unmistakable signs of adverse inclusion setting in quite early in this contact with the outside world, the Ang are still exercising agency and choice, and the administration must enable them to do so, not only in letter but also in spirit. As far as the Sentinelese are concerned, we take the opportunity to recommend continuing to respect their decision to refuse contact by not attempting to make any contact with them, and only properly policing the waters around their island. There are some unconirmed suggestions that the administration is contemplating a slightly more proactive approach —one that helps the Sentinelese distinguish between ‘friendly’ administration and ‘harmful’ outsiders like poachers. This would be a disastrous strategy as it would encourage contact, which even with the administration could be extremely dangerous for the Sentinelese. The experience with the Jarawa demonstrates that even ‘friendly’ interactions with the outsider can quickly propel grave adverse consequences. […]
Date Visited: Sat May 20 2017 16:01:44 GMT+0200 (CEST)
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- For up-to-date information on any of the above issues, use the search window here (e.g. “Ang [Jarawa/Onge/Sentinelese] tribe”, “tribal community”, “tribal tourism”, “Adivasi development”, “Andaman and Nicobar Ecology”, “Particularly vulnerable tribal group”): Google custom search – Indian press coverage of tribal culture and education >>
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List of Indian periodicals and sites covered by the present Custom search engine
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- Constitution and Supreme Court
- Ecology and environment
- Economy and development
- Environment minister’s call for a change in the colonial outlook: “Forests, tribal forest dwellers and life forms living in forests complement one another and are not rivals”
- Forest dwellers in early India – myths and ecology in historical perspective
- Forest Rights Act (FRA)
- Gandhian social movement
- Government of India
- Particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG)
- Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Survival International
- What is the Forest Rights Act about? Who is a forest dweller under this law, and who gets rights?