By Subodh Jain:
Indian culture and heritage is respected across the globe. India, the fifth largest and the second most populated nation in the world, is an epitome of its unique ancient tradition, which has been holding the history of more than 5000 years. At the same time, India is also a residence for over 84 million tribes. These tribal communities are renowned for their unique culture and lifestyle, which is the prime reason for considerable rise in tribal tours in the country.
Recently, the highest court of India has passed a strict resolution on banning all commercial and tourism activities in 5 km radius of the Jarawa Tribal Reserve in Andaman and Nicobar islands. Though the ban sounds a big relief for the Jarawa tribes but it follows a shameful history. This year in January, British Newspapers issued a controversial video clip depicting scantily dressed Jarawa woman dancing in front of tourists for food and money. With the release of the video, it was a matter of huge national shame and an alarm to the government of India highlighting the poor laws for the protection of aboriginal tribes in India. Since then, the day to day problems of Jarawa tribes came into centre lights and it took six long months to pass a strong amendment to safeguard this tribal community which is on the verge of extinction.
However the matter to ponder is that, it is not the very first issue in the country where the day to day problems of tribal community is raised forward. Since 1956, the government has never reviewed the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes. On 4th February, 2010, with the death of Boa Sr, Bo Tribal Community came to an end. Now, this unique part of the community is just a memory. Bo community was considered as one of the oldest tribal communities residing in India, with a history of over 65,000 years. With the extinction of this community, it’s a bleak reminder to every Indian and the government that we have lost an incredible portion of our heritage which can never be reverted back now.
We proudly utter, we live in a nation where technology is constantly upgrading, an era where life style is enriching but we forget to address that we also live in the generation where a major part of the population is exploited, where a major portion of society is deprived of basic human needs: food, clothing and shelter. And the worst is, instead of offering a helping hand towards these issues, we only manage to offer negligence and deaf ears.
Today, we have ministers to look after tribal communities, we have funds and basic amenities issued from the government but sadly we lack strict laws in protecting and encouraging these 84 million people. Debates in the name of empowering better health and education to the tribal communities will always continue but what about actions? Is debating the ultimate solution to lift these people from their pristine habitats? If you silently uttered no, then it’s time to start making differences. Tourism industries must understand that what attract tourists are the heritage and the culture of these unique tribal communities. Disrupting this natural gift will not only lead in declination of the nation’s pride but also in declination of human values and dignity. At the same time, tourists must also be aware of the fact that enjoying at the cost of human sentiments and human rights is indeed the most vulnerable act ever committed.
Strict laws are to be formulated in the favour of Tribal belts across the entire nation. Campaigns must to be undertaken and awareness programs to protect human rights must be encouraged.
After all the daily problems the tribal communities face just like the Jarawa tribes, this is not the assassination of human rights but a sign of slow extinction of culture, community and heritage.
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