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BANSOD TYPING INSTITUTE GULABARA CHHINDWARA (M.P.) MOB. NO. 8982805777

created Jan 14th, 12:44 by Ashu Soni


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461 words
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The death of a young American man at the hands of the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has led to dangerous lines of debate. Some have called for the Sentinelese to be convicted and punished and others have urged that they be integrated into modern society. Both these demands are misguided, and can only result in the extinction of a people. John Chau's killing was a tragedy but his attempt to make contact with the Sentinelese, who he seemed to know something about, was foolhardy and dangerous, not only to himself but to them. There is a reason why no one whether missionary, scholar, adventurer, U.S. citizen or Indian is allowed to venture near North Sentinel Island without permission, which is given only in the rarest of circumstances and with meticulous precautions in place to ensure that the Sentinelese are not disturbed. Having lived in isolation in an island in the Bay of Bengal for thousands of years, the Sentinelese have no immunity or resistance to even the commonest of infections. Various degrees of protection are in place for the indigenous people of A&N Islands, but it is complete in the case of the Sentinelese. The administration enforces an eyes-on and hands-off policy to ensure that no poachers enter the island. A protocol of circumnavigation of the island is in place, and the buffer maintained around the island is enforced under various laws. The Sentinelese are perhaps the most reclusive community in the world today. Their language is so far understood by no other group and they have traditionally guarded their island fiercely, attacking most intruders with spears and arrows. Arrows were fired even at a government aircraft that flew over the island after the 2004 Tsunami.
Chau knowingly broke the law, as did those who took took him to the waters off North Sentinel Island. Seven persons, including five fishermen, have been arrested for facilitating this misadventure. To call for an investigation on the island, however, is to fail to see its historical and administrative uniqueness. At the heart of the issue is the survival of the Sentinelese. According to the 2011 Census, their population was just 15 though anthropologists like T.N. Pandit, who made contact with them in the 1960s, put the figure at 80-90. This degree of ignorance about the Sentinelese often sparks an Orientalist public discourse, instead of understanding the dangers of trying to physically overpower them. Chau's death is a cautionary incident for the danger of adventurism, and for the administration to step up oversight. But it is also an occasion for the country to embrace its human heritage in all its diversity, and to empathetically try to see the world from the eyes of its most vulnerable inhabitants.
 
 

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