Sunday, August 26, 2018

Cultural references


The islands are prominently featured in Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Sign of the Four, as well as in M. M. Kaye's Death in the Andamans. The magistrate in Lady Gregory's play Spreading the News had formerly served in the islands. Marianne Wiggins' novel, John Dollar (1989), is set on one of the islands; the characters begin an expedition from Burma to celebrate King George's birthday and after an earthquake and tsunami it becomes a grim survival story. A principal character in the book Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup is from the Andaman Islands. Kaalapani (Malayalam) and Sirai Chaalai  (Tamil), a 1996 Indian film by Priyadarshan, depicts the Indian freedom struggle and the lives of prisoners in the Cellular Jail in Port Blair. Island's End is a 2011 novel by Padma Venkatraman about the training of an indigenous shaman.

Demographics


A young Onge mother with her child
As of 2011, the population of the Andaman was 343,125, having grown from 50,000 in 1960. The bulk of the population originates from immigrants who came to the island since the colonial times, mainly of Bengali, Hindustani and Tamil backgrounds.

Indigenous Andamanese
Main article: Andamanese people
Of the people who live in the Andaman Islands, a small minority of about 1,000 are the so-called Andamanese, the aboriginal inhabitants (adivasi) of the islands. By the 1850s when they first came into sustained contact by outside groups, there were estimated 7,000 Andamanese, divided into the following major groups:

Great Andamanese
Jarawa
Jangil (or Rutland Jarawa)
Onge
Sentinelese
As the numbers of settlers from the mainland increased (at first mostly prisoners and involuntary indentured labourers, later purposely recruited farmers), these indigenous people lost territory and numbers in the face of punitive expeditions by British troops, land encroachment and various epidemic diseases. Presently, there remain only approximately 400–450 indigenous Andamanese. The Jangil were soon extinct. The Great Andamanese were originally 10 distinct tribes with 5,000 people in total; most of the tribes are extinct, and the survivors, now just 52, speak mostly Hindi.The Onge are reduced to less than 100 people. Only the Jarawa and Sentinelese still maintain a steadfast independence and refuse most attempts at contact; their numbers are uncertain but estimated to be in the low hundreds.

No comments:

Post a Comment