Notes from the Field
It was in 2002 when the Supreme Court of India gave a landmark decision to close the Andaman Trunk Road for protecting the Jarwa tribes. This news was covered by all the mainstream newspapers of India. Till now general public knows the Andaman and Nicobar Island for Cellular Jail also known as “Kala Pani,” a colonial prison used by the British especially to exile political prisoners or as the tourist destination in Independent India. After this widespread coverage, people started relooking the islands and tried to rediscover their history while situating the six indigenous tribes in it. These historical accounts indicated that the tribals were staying in the island forests since time immemorial and while using them collected profound knowledge. This was the time when I got interested to know more about them and their knowledge. In December 2004, I visited the Kalpvrikash, a research organization located in Pune city of India with which a brilliant author on Andaman and Nicobar tribes Mr. Pankaj Seksaria was associated. It was on 24 December when I called him to talk about these tribes, and he answered me “Now we lost everything,” and I got to know about that tsunami struck coastal India. He told me that he was in constant touch with people located at Andaman, but they were not sure about the survival of these tribes. On 26 December, morning (2004), the Times of India, a daily newspaper cover page, published that all the tribes survived due to their indigenous knowledge and only the Nicobarese tribe lost their people. This news increased my faith and interest in the indigenous knowledge of Andamani and Nicobarese tribes. Thereafter, a short field trip was undertaken from 29 September 2005 to 23 October 2005 in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to access and conduct a primary study of the situation of the forest and its management by the tribes in the islands.