Gist of Editorials: Protect Indigenous People (The Hindu) | GS – I

Relevance : GS Paper I (Indian Society)

[700 words reduced to 250]

  • The killing of an American national by the Sentinelese has put the spotlight on the vulnerability of indigenous communities in India.
  • There are six tribal communities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands . The population of these tribes have reduced drastically over the decades.
  • India’s policy towards these tribes:
    • (ANPATR), 1956 protected the tribals from outside interference.
    • A policy of non-intervention was also proposed by the Supreme Court.
    • In 2005, the ANPATR was amended and the punishment was enhanced.
    • A policy for protecting the Shompen tribes was released only in 2015.
    • The government amended the ANPATR yet again in 2012, creating a buffer zone in Jarawa tribal reserve.
    • In 2018 the government relaxed the restricted area permit (RAP) for 29 islands.
  • International conventions
    • The 1957 ILO convention insisted on an integrationist approach towards tribal communities.
    • The 1989 ILO convention insisted on a policy of non-intervention.
    • India ratified the 1957 convention but has not ratified the 1989 convention.
  • Has government policies been successful?
    • The Andaman Trunk Road has led to spread of diseases, sexual exploitation, and begging.
    • There continues to be numerous reports of civilian intrusion into the Jarawa tribal reserve.
    • Easing the restrictions by the government could adversely affect the indigenous population.
    • Commercialisation of tribal spaces could lead to encroachment of land.
  • Way forward
    • The government should prioritise protecting the tribes from outside influence.
    • India needs to sign the 1989 convention of the ILO and implement it.
    • India should also make efforts to sensitise settlers and outsiders about them.
  • That Chau incident shows a lack of understanding about the Sentinelese. Only concrete efforts can prevent such an incident from happening again.