another day in jarawa life

Some days ago, I posted about the Jarawas. And I said that the local administration in the Andamans is venal, that its public stance about leaving the Jarawas alone is a lie, and that the tribals are in huge trouble. (readthisthis and this). Well, here is a story from the latest issue of “The Light of Andamans” (Issue 22, 20 May 2006) to buttress all that I said. More will follow.

By Staff Reporter
The Andaman Adimjan Jati Vikas Samiti and the Directorate of Tribal Welfare seldom miss a chance to put its foot in its mouth. Jarawas were suffering from measles and getting admitted into the hospital in droves. There was panic all over. The Directorate of Health Services deputed a team of doctors to Middle Strait and Kadamtala for an on the spot investigation, treatment and for taking preventive actions. National and International press was plastered with the Jarawa affliction.

But, for reasons best known to AAJVS and DTW, they were engaged in some other sinister move to shift the Jarawas from Middle Strait to Tirur. Vehicles were engaged, labour hired and trucks carrying 45 of the tribesmen reached Tirur village one evening during the last month end. The villagers however did not swallow the pill. They stopped the truck and did not allow the Jarawas to get down. When asked who had directed them to Tirur, the Jarawas said “Ghoshal”. The villagers asked the incharge to call Mr. Ghoshal. The Pradhan of the Panchayat Mr. Mahadev Majhi too was not in the locality at the time.

By the time Mr. Ghoshal reached there, Mr. Majhi too had arrived. A prolonged discussion ensued between them. The villager itself was suffering from measles and the Pradhan did not want to complicate the matter further. Secondly, the villagers of Temple Myo, Herbertabad and Tirur were fed up with Jarawas intruding their home and hearth every now and then. They did not want another battalion of Jarawas trooping into their gardens, plantations and homes at will.

“There were five people on the roll of AAJVS working at Tirur. But I never saw more than one at any given time. Are they working in your homes?” he had asked Mr. Ghoshal. Mr Ghoshal’s reply was that the workers were paid on the basis of attendance rolls submitted by the Police. The Policeman standing nearby didn’t like it kindly. “You pay them even before we submit the attendance rolls” he retorted. “What about supply of banana to the Jarawas every week?” Mr. Mahadev Majhi fired the next salvo. “I never saw or heard of any banana supply in the past year and a half” he continued. Mr. Ghoshal had nothing better to do than fumble for words.

Talking to The Light of Andamans” Mr. Majhi confided that it was a big racket. The Jarawas were exploited to the hilt by the AAJVS and the Department of Tribal Welfare. Nobody was interested in the welfare of the Jarawas or any other tribe. ‘They appoint people from far off places to work at Tirur. They never turn up and yet get paid. Why not appoint unemployed boys from the same Panchayat? We too can keep a watch in that case” he fumed. “Banana! Why can’t they buy from our people who suffer at the hands of the Jarawas? Because then the racket would be busted” he concluded. Mr. Mahadev Majhi was exploding with fury.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

I am an Indian journalist with interests in energy, environment, climate and India’s ongoing slide into right-wing authoritarianism. My book, Despite the State, an examination of pervasive state failure and democratic decay in India, was published by Westland Publications, India, in January 2021. My work has won the Bala Kailasam Memorial Award; the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award; and five Shriram Awards for Excellence in Financial Journalism. Write to me at


…une plongée dans les failles béantes de la démocratie indienne, un compte rendu implacable du dysfonctionnement des Etats fédérés, minés par la corruption, le clientélisme, le culte de la personnalité des élus et le capitalisme de connivence. (…a dive into the gaping holes in Indian democracy, a relentless account of the dysfunction of the federated states, undermined by corruption, clientelism, the cult of the personality of elected officials and crony capitalism).” Le Monde

…a critical enquiry into why representative government in India is flagging.Biblio

…strives for an understanding of the factors that enable governments and political parties to function in a way that is seemingly hostile to the interests of the very public they have been elected to serve, a gross anomaly in an electoral democracy.”

M. Rajshekhar’s deeply researched book… holds a mirror to Indian democracy, and finds several cracks.The Hindu

…excels at connecting the local to the national.Open

…refreshingly new writing on the play between India’s dysfunctional democracy and its development challenges…Seminar

A patient mapping and thorough analysis of the Indian system’s horrific flaws…” Business Standard (Image here)

33 മാസം, 6 സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങൾ, 120 റിപ്പോർട്ടുകൾ: ജനാധിപത്യം തേടി മഹത്തായ ഇന്ത്യൻ യാത്ര… (33 months, 6 states, 120 reports: Great Indian journey in search of democracy…)” Malayala Manorama

Hindustan ki maujooda siyasi wa maaashi soorat e hal.” QindeelOnline

What emerges is the image of a state that is extractive, dominant, casteist and clientelist.Tribune

…reporting at its best. The picture that emerges is of a democracy that has been hijacked by vested interests, interested only in power and

Book lists

Ten best non-fiction books of the year“, The Hindu.

Twenty-One Notable Books From 2021“, The Wire.

What has South Asia been reading: 2021 edition“, Himal Southasian


Journalism is a social enterprise…,”

Democratic decay at state level: Journalist M Rajshekhar on book ‘Despite the State’,” The News Minute.

Covid-19 en Inde : “des décès de masse” dont un “État obscurantiste est responsable,” Asialyst.


JP to BJP: The Unanswered Questions“.
Mahtab Alam’s review of “JP to BJP: Bihar After Lalu and Nitish”.

Urban History of Atmospheric Modernity in Colonial India“. Mohammad Sajjad’s review of “Dust and Smoke: Air Pollution and Colonial Urbanism, India, c1860-c1940”.

Westland closure: Titles that are selling fast and a few personal recommendations,” by Chetana Divya Vasudev, Moneycontrol. (Because this happened too. In February, a year after DtS was released, Amazon decided to shutter Westland, which published the book. The announcement saw folks rushing to buy copies of Westland books before stocks run out.)

Time to change tack on counterinsurgency” by TK Arun, The Federal.

All Things Policy: The Challenges of Governing States” by Suman Joshi and Sarthak Pradhan, Takshashila Institute (podcast).

The Future of Entertainment“, Kaveree Bamzai in Open.

On What India’s Watching“, Prathyush Parasuraman on Substack.

The puppeteers around us“, Karthik Venkatesh in Deccan Herald.

Will TN election manifestos continue ‘populist’ welfare schemes?“, Anna Isaac for The News Minute.

Why wages-for-housework won’t help women“, V Geetha in Indian Express.

The poor state of the Indian state“, Arun Maira in The Hindu.

Book discussions

26 December, 2021: Rangashankara, Bangalore, a discussion with Dhanya Rajendran.

16 November: Rachna Books, Gangtok, a discussion with Pema Wangchuk.

29 August: Books In The Time of Chaos, with Ujwal Kumar.

21 May: Hyderabad Lit Fest with Kaveree Bamzai and Aniruddha Bahal.

28 March: Paalam Books, Salem, Tamil Nadu.

19 March: The News Minute, “Citizens, the State, and the idea of India

6 March: Pen@Prithvi, with Suhit Kelkar

20 February: A discussion between scholars Usha Ramanathan, Tridip Suhrud, MS Sriram and me to formally launch Despite the State.

6 February: DogEars Bookshop, Margoa.

5 February: The Polis Project, Dispatches with Suchitra Vijayan.

30 January: Founding Fuel, “Systems Thinking, State Capacity and Grassroots Development“.

25 January: Miranda House Literary Society