This Unit discusses 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 way of life is threatened by their active contact with the outside world over the last twenty- five years. Their situation is characteristic of, and holds lessons for, the situation of other uncontacted or recently contacted indigenous peoples, both in India and elsewhere.
The Ang pose a peculiar problem as what we conventionally describe as ‘inclusion’—access to certain public goods and involvement in mainstream society—is actually exclusion, or what some scholars describe appropriately as ‘adverse inclusion’. With the Ang themselves, their exposure to disease, sexual exploitation, and economic exploitation through contact with poachers and those settled near the Reserve, indicate the impact that contact can have. While the optimal balance between contact and isolation is perhaps one that no government has yet successfully established, the Andaman administration continues to keep Andaman Trunk Road, which bisects and disrupts the Jarawa Reserve, open despite clear Supreme Court directions for its closure. At the same time, the Forest Rights Act (2006), a law that operationalises the rights of forest-dwellers over the territory they occupy, has not been notified in the Islands, in effect denying the Ang people ownership rights over their land.
This Unit is accompanied by a factsheet that discusses the current situation of the Ang people. The teaching guide and student guide enable engagement with the issue of the rights of indigenous peoples and provide resources for individual and collective understanding, debate and discussion.