ANDAMAN, NICOBAR, LAKSHADWIP AND MAINLAND INDIA:
THE IMPORTANCE OF ISLANDS, WATER ROUTES AND A BLUE WATER NAVY
TO INDIA’S SECURITY
Across history, invasions have happened through the sea:
Entire pagan nations and pagan societies, indeed entire continents have been occupied and converted to Abrahamic faiths by force, which began from the landing of successful expeditions of an invader navy. While Britain and France colonized Northern America, America further colonized and created American defence bases in islands and lands further off America’s shores. These far offshore places include Hawaii (our previous blog).
Any nation with a sea coastline, strives to augment one’s defence and offence capabilities, as well as seafaring entrepreneurships, through a naval arm. The ancient world also had strong navies, including the navy of the Romans, Chinese, Indians, etc.
A blue water navy is the navy that goes far out at sea, even across major oceans, not remaining confined to the support of coastal winds. A brown navy is the one that stays close to shores; while a green navy may mean a navy on rivers.
Even nations without a direct coastline have managed to have sea-navies.
The Austro-Hungarian navy:
The land-locked Austrian-Hungarian region was also an empire about a century ago; but this empire established a navy by extending control over the port city Trieste (now part of Italy) and the Slovenian and Croatian coasts. (Remember Captain von Trapp of ‘The Sound of music’? Captain von Trapp was a captain of a submarine for the Austro-Hungarian fleet.)
Today, Austria has retained a navy over the Austrian stretch of the Danube River, reducing an erstwhile blue water navy to a green navy.
There is no limit to how many wars have been fought so far over controlling the Suez Canal and Panama Canal; many more could be fought in the future.
Indeed, the Somalian pirates choose the less patrolled stretch of the Bab-el-Mandeb strait that connects the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea, on the sea route of the Suez Canal, for piracy, as it is so strategically located between Yemen and Djibouti / Somalia.
Invasions through river waterways:
Latin American nations patrol the rivers of the Amazonian system over controlling drug cartels and to posture themselves over border disputes, taking American help if needed. Indeed, the waterways, whether maritime or riverine, are used by a kingdom for security.
India, too, has had river wars and battles.
During ancient times, the Greek army under Alexander had crossed the river Indus (Sindhu nadi) in spate with a bridge, before defeating Punjabi king Puru / Porus.
During medieval times, the kingdom of Assam was attacked by the Mughals, both from land and on the Brahmaputra River. Some decades later, Veer Lachhit BarPhukan also won back freedom for Hindu Assam from the Mughals by a pitched naval river battle on the Saraighat stretch of Guwahati’s Brahmaputra (1671).
This history is immortalized in many books including the book of my good friend Aneesh Gokhale, in his book on Lachhit and Shivaji’s contemporariness and valour, ‘Brahmaputra’. The cover page shows the battle of Saraighat between a fever-ridden Lachhit and the Mughals, fought right ON the Brahmaputra.
The relationship between an island and ‘the’ mainland:
Actually islands are first and foremost an ecosystem and a geo-culture. The ecosystem needs its ecology to be preserved as a source of sustenance while the geo-culture needs to be equally carefully exposed to influences which are only of a compassionate, scientific and spiritually inclined civilisation, certainly not of a predatory, evangelist, subversive or materialistically exploitative nature. A mutually beneficial relationship for a mainland and an island can mimic Nature: where, both parties benefit from each other (symbiosis) or, one benefits without harming or benefiting the other (commensalism). But, unlike organisms in an ecosystem, do human societies interact only in these two ways? Or, do they follow the exploitative approach – also seen in Nature – wherein one benefit geo-culture benefits at the expense of another, namely, ‘parasitism’? Just like a leech sucks at a host, so do some human geo-cultures suck at their invaded host-island geo-culture.
Certain nations are extremely well-endowed by nature and strategic position. The US and India, both big nations and democracies, besides having two coastlines on either sides of huge mainland masses, also have islands in their sovereign realm. The interaction between the mainland and the island, the strategic value of the island to the mainland, and the nature of the power equation will decide how the island society feels about the mainland and, if and how, the mainland gets influenced by the island in return.
Invasions from the sea:
Sometimes. alien invaders arrived with the strength of merely a few hundred men in merely about a dozen ships, armed with some firearms. For India, there is a direct connection of loss of sea power and loss of independence.
Goa’s European conquest by sea:
Goa was a prosperous Hindu kingdom (the Kadamb dynasty, whose descendents are called the Kadam clan of Kshatriya Marathas). The Kadambas had a thriving port and temple city called Gopakapattana which was the ancient name of Goa, which had sea trade links with Zanzibar in Africa and with SriLanka, Bengal and Gujarat too. (This port of GopakaPattan lies in a state of neglect today.)
Hindu Goan Kadamba rule was first supplanted by Muslims rulers who invaded by land; they in turn (the Adil Shah of Bijapur) were supplanted by Christian pirates coming from Portugal, by sea. Goa – the holy Hindu land of Ramnathi and Mangeshi-ShantaDurga – captured by merely a few hundred Portuguese pirates – had to suffer a very prolonged and diabolical instalment of Abrahamic rule till 1961.
History of the various Hindu navies:-
Right from ancient to medieval times, powerful merchant and defence arms of Hindu navies sailed from Guatemala to the Philippines. We had the navies of the Kalingas, of Maharashtra (both the ancient and medieval- under Emperor Shivaji) as well as the navies of the Southern kingdoms, besides navies of the South East Asian Buddhist-Hindu kingdoms. Hindu navies were blue water navies, as they had to reach far-off destinations.
The word ‘navy’ itself comes from the mother of all Indo-European languages, Sanskrit: the word root is Sanskrit “Nou”. Similarly, ‘navigation’ is derived from ‘Nou-gati’. The entrepreneurship of ancient Hindus is described in our Rigveda too. Varuna is the deity of the waters, aand Sagara or Samudraa tthe ocean-God, with Lakshmi Devi being his daughter, who caame out of Samudraa Manthaan.
Describing the glorious naval tradition of the Sindhu-Saraswati civilisation is beyond the scope of the present article, what with docks and ports all along the coasts of ancient Gujarat, North Maharashtra and Sindh. For the sake of this article, we may restrict our attention to lesser acknowledged naval traditions which brought mainland India in contact with her islands.
a. The para-aakramee outgoing naval culture of Hindu Utkal /Kalinga / Odisha:
Odisha had a tradition of going out at sea, especially to locations in Indonesia (Java, Bali, Sumatra) as well as to Champa, China, Siam, Burma, Malaya and Borneo. Odisha has a network of large and navigable rivers, free from the freezing effects of a severely cold climate; a wealth of forests abounding in strong timber which might be readily utilised for the construction of ship and boats. These natural advantages coupled with steadiness within the direction of the monsoon, over the Mahodadhi Sea (Bay of Bengal), Indian ocean and China sea aided the Odiyas acquire that nautical skill and enterprise for which they were justly famous in the ancient world.
This memory is still commemorated every year as Bali Jatra or Bali Yatra.
Odiya people dressed in colourful ethnic Odiya attire sail away boats made of banana peels and cane accompanied by blowing of conches and ululation; just as ladies used to see off their seafarer menfolk (husbands, sons, brothers and lovers) by paying tribute to the ships, tributes are paid to boats (boita bandan or boat vandanaa / worship).
Though the festival is held everywhere, the main place is Cuttack, on the banks of the Mahanadi river, whenceforth Odiya sailors use to sail off to Indonesia; the river moves onward from Cuttack to merge into the Mahodadhi seaa (Bay of Bengal).
This interesting link requires further study: “Likewise the earliest colonisation of the Malaya Peninsula and Java had probably been made from Kalinga, for the Hindus of the Peninsula and the islands were and are still known as Kling.” http://orissamatters.com/2008/04/28/mahodadhi/
After the Arabs accepted Islam and started intercepting Hindu traders on sea, converting them to Islam, Hindus started shrinking away from seafaring; the tradition in Odisha died away and Odisha lost naval supremacy. Today, the festival involves use of thermocol boats painted with artificial colours which cause pollution, and the festival witnesses dumping of waste as well as encroachment onto the river bed of the Mahanadi river. Gone is actual seafaring Kshatriyataaa, and also gone is our environmental sensitivity quotient. Odisha needs to preserve her wetlands which are crucial breeding sites for the Olive Ridley Turtle. An intact coast is the greatest protection against cyclones and tsunamis. The NGT or the National Green Tribunal, has chastised the State government for ecological degradation, as agroecological illiteracy mars ethnic tradition during the Bali Jatra.
But while the festival of Bali Jatra keeps alive a memory, Odisha remains important strategically.
The Indian Navy has a naval base at Paradip on the coast of Odisha.
Also, the most advanced missile testing facility of India, Wheeler Island (renamed Abdul Qalam Island as a tribute to ‘Missile Man’, late President APJ Abdul Qalam), is also located off the coast of Odisha, 150 km from the capital Bhubaneswar.
b. Quotes from the official (today’s) Indian Navy website:
“….Between the fifth and tenth centuries AD, the Vijaynagaram and Kalinga kingdoms of southern and eastern India had established their rule over Malaya, Sumatra and Western Java. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands then served as an important midway point for trade between the Indian peninsula and these kingdoms, as also with China. The daily revenue from the eastern regions in the period 844-848 AD was estimated at 200 maunds (eight tons) of gold. In the period 984-1042 AD, the Chola kings despatched great naval expeditions which occupied parts of Burma, Malaya and Sumatra, while suppressing piracy by the Sumatran warlords. In 1292 AD, Marco Polo described Indian ships as ‘…built of fir timber, having a sheath of boards laid over the planking in every part, caulked with oakum and fastened with iron nails. The bottoms were smeared with a preparation of quicklime and hemp, pounded together and mixed with oil from a certain tree which is a better material than pith.’…” https://www.indiannavy.nic.in/node/1402
c. The Chola Navy has been credited by our establishment as the forerunner of the Look East policy being followed by Narendra Modi today. India’s navy training ship TS Rajendra was named in his honour.
Rajendra Chola I (1014 to 1044 CE), one of the greatest kings of the Tamil Chola dynasty, conquered the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to use them as a strategic naval base to launch a naval expedition against the Sriwijaya Empire (a Buddhist empire based in the island of Sumatra, Indonesia). The Chola Tamils called the islands Tinmaittivu (“impure islands” in Tamil).
d. The Maratha navy:
In the 17th century, the Maratha navy of Hindu Emperor Shivaji was led by Sarkhel (Admiral) Kanhoji Angre, who led depredatory and punitive expeditions against the European and Muslim navies. The Maratha Empire created temporary bases for their ships at Andaman islands. Kanhoji Angre turned the islands into a major naval port and attached the Andaman islands to India.
In maritime jargon, it is debated today, whether or not the Maratha navy can be called a blue water navy. Is using naval skills to go out to an overseas location the only proof of being a blue water navy? The Marathas had gone to the Andamans.
When the descendants of Angre refused to accept the suzerainty of the Peshwas, the Peshwas disbanded the Maratha navy themselves, that too with English assistance. While there should not have been internal strife, and while the coastal Angres were no contestants to the sovereign control of Pune / Satara / Kolhapur axis of overall Maratha power, it is deplorable that we ourselves destroyed our own navy.
The foundations of the modern Indian navy have been laid by the Maratha navy heritage, the last of the Hindu navies before the modern Indian defence navy was set up.
e. Hindus on the Euphrates:
So extensive were the Hindu naval networks that the legendary writer Sita Ram Goel mentions the naval settlement of Hindus in the Middle East, as the very first Hindu – Christian encounter, in his book “History of Hindu-Christian Encounters”.
Writes Sita Ram Goel: about Hinduism in the region of the Euphrates: (History of Hindu-Christian Encounters: Encounter One:)
“Hindu temples were the most visible symbols of the Brahmana religion. They became targets of Christian attack like all other Pagan temples. According to the Syrian writer Zenob, writes Dr. R. C. Majumdar, there was an Indian colony in the canton of Taron on the upper Euphrates, to the west of Lake Van, as early as the second century B.C. The Indians had built there two temples containing images of gods about 18 and 22 feet high. When, about AD 304, St. Gregory came to destroy these images, he was strongly opposed by the Hindus. But he defeated them and smashed the images, thus anticipating the iconoclastic zeal of Mahmud of Ghazni.” http://bharatvani.org/books/hhce/Ch1.htm
Obviously, these Hindus on the Euphrates were a naval settlement of Hindus from India; they had built temples there too, testimony to the entreprenuership of Hindus and the political consciousness about the importance of the sea that was employed by ancient Hindus for cultural, strategic, defence and trade purposes.
f. Decrease in Hindu Kshatriyataa caused a naval edition of Hindu contraction: Savarkar
How did the Hindu navies start disappearing? With the increased conversion of Hindu naval traders to Christianity and later, to Islam, when out at sea, coupled with repeated attacks from Islam on land, that led to a shrinking of Hindu Kshatriyataa: instead of facing and defeating the anti-Hindu and non-Indian navies, and saving both Dharmaa and business interests, the then custodians of Hindu Dharma, namely the rulers and Brahmins, edited the Smrutis to make outgoing itself a mahaapaatakk or Great Sin. Anyone who went out at blue sea beyond the influence of the coastal winds was made an outcast from Dharma, an injunction called Sindhu-Bandi (Sindhu=Ocean, bandi=prohibition); or, some praayaschittta was enforced. If only our Hindu rulers and Brahmins enforced the Deval Smruti Code of Shudhdi or what we call ‘Ghar-Wapasi’ today, to bring back the converted Hindus back into Hinduism.
Writes Savarkar: त्या स्मार्त (Legal) पध्दतीनुसार मेधातिथीच्या किंवा देवलांच्या कालानंतरही रचलेल्या किंवा संशोधिलेल्या अगदी अर्वाचीन स्मृतितच काय ती – ‘समुद्रयातुः स्वीकारः कलौ पंच विवर्जयेत् ’ – ही समुद्रप्रवासाचाच निषेध करणारी आणि जातीत परत न घेणारी अशी कडक मर्यादा घातलेली आढळते. Translation: Much much after Medhatithi and Deval Rishi, the legal systems of Smaart injunctions that prohibited certain actions, got underway to make voyaging onto the sea itself one of the Great Sins that made the voyaging person an outcast. The shloka said: ‘Reaccepting an ocean-voyager is prohibited’. http://www.savarkar.org/content/pdfs/mr/soneri_pane_5_and_6.v001.pdf Point 502)
How islands can get misused:
Use of islands as penal colonies: Norfolk islands and Andaman:
Often, small islands and coastal ports located in a vast ocean on the sea route of merchant and defence ships, offer strategic importance to those who control them; the toll tax may be taken by a ruler of that island if he had a strong navy himself, or even by the invader who occupies that place as the (new) island controller. The islands can “become” landing bases for ships; refuelling stations; cargo transfer ports; colonies for expats; outposts for a missionary creed; or, penal colonies for political convicts.
- The penal colony of Norfolk Island (an Australia territory, but located closer to New Zealand) Before Norfolk Island was an English penal colony, it had Polynesian settlers (but whose settlement too had vanished from the island). http://australianmuseum.net.au/uploads/journals/17923/1348_complete.pdf The Norfolk islands penal colony was more notorious for having Irish prisoners held for torture and suspected for treason no reason than that they were Irish. About the torture colony that was Norfolk Island, writes Pádraig Collins (an Irish born journalist, based in Sydney, Australia, who writes in favour of Irish sentiment): “…The extent of the horror they (the Irish convicts at the Norfolk Island Penal Colony facing torture by Englishmen) experienced led to what was known as “the Norfolk lottery”. Irish convicts feared that suicide, being an unforgivable sin, would send them to eternal hell. To get around the dilemma they devised a plan where four convicts would draw straws and one would be murdered, one would be the murderer and two would act as witnesses at the trial so as to ensure conviction. The victim would escape life without fear of going to hell, the murderer would be executed and also escape life, and the witnesses would have to testify at a trial in either Sydney or Hobart. Just getting off the island was a holiday for them and would possibly present an opportunity to escape.…” http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/an-irishman-s-diary-on-dark-deeds-on-the-penal-colony-of-norfolk-island-1.2171976
- Andaman island- The ‘Cellular Jail’ – which incarcerated Savarkar – was managed by the British in the Andamans back before 1947. Ironically, here, the jailer who harassed Savarkar and the inmates of Andaman’s cellular jail on behalf of the English, was an Irishman himself, one Mr. Barry (and Savarkar had not failed to tell Mr. Barry about the bitter relations Ireland had had with the English).
The islands of the Indian ocean strategically important to India: Sri Lanka, Maldives, Lakshadwip, Coco islands and Nicobar
Of the islands mentioned above, Sri Lanka and Maldives are paart of the Indiaan scheme of things, and part of the Akhanda Bharat Sankalpana. But only Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadwip are part of Indian territory. Coco islands are neither part of India nor part of any country favourable to India: they are under Chinese control.
There are many more islands in the Indian Ocean around India: the Seychelles, Madaagascar, etc.
In fact, the Indian Ocean rim is coveted by a lot of nations for their own strategic interests. Quoted Brahma Chellaney (Indian strategic thinker, author, public intellectual and analyst of international geostrategic trends) on his own website in January 2016, that China is rapidly encircling India.
Sri Lanka’s Hindu history needs a dedicated separate paper; Ceylon is like a small, Buddhist South India. Like Sri Lanka, Maldives and the Minicoy part of the Lakshadwip had a Buddhist past too. Sri Lanka stayed Buddhist. But, Lakshadwip, including Minicoy, and Maldives, like Malabar, came under Islamic proselytisation, ever since the ascendancy of Islamic naval power and descendancy of Hindu naval power by self-imposed contraction as explained above.
In this section, we shall study the influence being on a sea route had, onto the history and identity of the Maldives, Lakshadwip / Lacadives and Nicobar islands.
According to geologists Lakshadwip and Maladwip / (Maldives) islands are a continuation of the Aravali system of rocks of Rajasthan and Gujarat through the banks of the Gulf of Cambay and through the Agaria banks further south, with tops of coral reefs getting added even now. http://pib.nic.in/feature/feyr2000/fmay2000/f240520005.html
The language spoken in Maldives (Maldivian- Divehi / Dhivehi), Sri Lanka (Sinhalese) and in Minicoy (only the Southern part of Lakshadwip- a dialect of Divehi) are related to Marathi and Konkani, and all these four languages – Divehi, Sinhalese, Marathi and Konkani) are descended first from Maharashtri Prakrit and ultimately from Sanskrit. The rest of Lakshadwip (other than Minicoy) speaks a Dravidian language, which is often classified as a dialect of Malayalam.
The dress of Lakshadwip women is called ‘libus’, derived from Arabic ‘libaas’.
Minicoy (South Lakshadwip) has a matrilineal culture, and was called Mahilaa-Dwip. Though Minicoy speaks a dialect of Maldivian Divehi, Minicoy islanders politically broke up from the Maldives when they were refused aid after a cyclone by the ruler of Male (capital of Maldives), while they were granted aid by the kings of Kerala; British colonisation integrated Minicoy into Malabar-Lakshadwip within British India; by plebiscite, Lakshadwip (including Minicoy) voted to be part of India, completing the official integration into independent India after 1947 (Maldives remain a separate nation-state).
The male Minicoy islanders use a dhoti-like dress too, unlike Islamic outfits used in the rest of (northern) Lakshadwip.
The Minicoy islanders used to trade with the islanders of Nicobar too, sailing around the cape of Kanyakumari. Even the sailing Kalinga Hindu navy used to have a stopover at Nicobar.
Nicobar islands include Great Nicobar island. These have a tribe called the Shompen which is rather primitive.
But they are also learning to vote!Here is aa photo from the official website of the Election Commission of India (Nirvaachan Aayog): http://eci.nic.in/eci_main1/sveep/where.aspx
But the Car Nicobar islands have some slightly advanced level of tribal culture; unlike other island tribes, they even practise horticulture, and instead of getting endangered, they are instead in need of some family planning. The Car Nicobarese seem to have arrived through North East India. The Nicobarese are Mongoloid. Even today, Burmese people arrive onto the coast of Car Nicobar. The Nicobarese are a Mon–Khmer- language speaking people (the Austro-Asiatic family of languages spoken in South East Asia and North East India).
Car Nicobar in particular is headed towards complete Christianisation.
After the 2004 tsunami which affected Nicobar badly, many more Christian missionary outfits have become active.
There is some work of the Vanawasi Kalyaan Ashram VKA in Andaman-Nicobar, who states its mission as social, cultural, educational and economic development of tribal people.
None other than Swami Aseemanand (aaccused in the Samjhautaa Express blast case) was working for the VKA in Andaman and Nicobar.
The current office of VKA is located in Port Blair, the capital: Bijay Kumar Mohanty , Organising Secretary Post Box 244, Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar, PIN 744101. Phone 91-3192-32643
His Excellency, (late) President of India APJ Abdul Qalam ji had visited the Nicobarese people too.
Andaman islands: north to Nicobar
The original Andamanese people are all Negrito, speaking languages no other part of India or the world speaks. They are all primitive, from the Stone Age, and live mostly naked; they are hunter-gatherers. They used to avoid any contact with anyone, killing any ship-wrecked people who landed there; even today, they shoot arrows when an outsider approaches. They do not know how to light a fire. They include five tribes, of which the Jangil or Rutland tribe is now extinct. The other four tribes are still present with a highly endangered status: Jarawa, Sentinelese (the most resilient to any influence), Onge and the slightly admixtured Great Andamanese.
Genetically, they also have a slightly different input of ancestry from a hominid ancestor – an input not found in any other dark-skinned person in the world because they arrived in the Andaman 60,000 years ago, from the great out-of-Africa migration, and lived in isolation.
Could the Andamanese have had any genetic mixing at all, with people from the Indian mainland? Veer Savarkar (whose generation accepted the theory of the Nordic Aryan invasion into India as true out of zeitgeist) had incidentally also lived in Andaman, incarcerated in the cellular jail of Andaman; in his book “Hindutva”, Savarkar said this about the human race being one: “… After all there is throughout this world so far as man is concerned but a single race— the human race kept alive by one common blood, the human blood. All other talk is at best provisional, a makeshift and only relatively true. Nature is constantly trying to overthrow the artificial barriers you raise between race and race. To try to prevent the commingling of blood is to build on sand. Sexual attraction has proved more powerful than all the commands of all the prophets put together. Even as it is, not even the aborigines of the Andamans are without some sprinkling of the so-called Aryan blood in their veins and vice versa. Truly speaking, all that any one of us can claim, all that history entitles one to claim, is that one has the blood of all mankind in one’s veins. The fundamental unity of man from pole to pole is true, all else only relatively so….”. Some recent genetic studies show they do have some common genetic similarity with Indians (South Asians). So far, nothing is conclusive. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1180321/
Like the Bushmen of Africa, some women of these Andamanese tribes have some traits like steatopygia (extremely adiposed buttocks), something which was used to make racist fun of black women in the US. The author of this blog chooses to not post images of women, who are also our fellow-Indians, in this blog.
After the British landed on the Andaman islands, they introduced opium and alcohol; they brought in diseases both inadvertently and intentionally to wipe out the population of native Andamanese. After any shipwrecked British sailor was killed by arrows of the Andamanese, the British also went in for vengeful killing. This decimated the populations of the Andamanese.
The case of the Coco islands: North even to Andaman:
The Coco islands (“Coco” is the Portuguese word for “coconut”) as part of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago were a source of food for Andaman’s Kala Pani cellular jail. They could as well have become part of Indian sovereignty. But they became part of Myanmarese sovereignty.
The Coco islands had officially became part of British Burma in 1882, remained a Burmese territory when Burma separated from India in 1937 and in 1942, along with the rest of the Andaman and Nicobar chain, were occupied by Japan. When Burma regained its independence from Britain in 1948, the Coco Islands passed to the new Union of Burma; It was in 2003 George Fernandes has made a claim that “Nehru gifted Coco Islands to Burma. GEORGE FERNANDES, INDIA’S DEFENCE MINISTER IN VAJPAYEE’S GOVERNMENT, HAD SAID IN 2003, THAT NEHRU GIFTED THE ISLANDS TO BURMA IN 1948. (This probably was along with the gifting of the Kabaw valley of Manipur too, to Burma.)
Though China has been setting up naval / air bases overlooking the Andaman-Nicobar region, in the Coco islands, saying they are leased from Myanmar, Myanmar still denies it and shows Coco islands as part of Myanmarese territory. http://www.economist.com/images/20070929/CFB922.gif
Andamans and the Japanese occupation:
There is an episode of hitherto unearthed history of how the Japanese – who occupied the Andaman islands – treated the Indians there. It has been raised by the media outlet ‘The Tribune’. Whatever the political ideological inclinations of the mediahouse, the staatements made in the paper need to be taken seriously.
The author of the article, Mohinder Singh Dhillon, states:
“…The Japanese culture will remain stagnant until it apologises to the countries it conquered. The story of the Japanese carnage in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is altogether different. It is unknown even to its countrymen and the government is indifferent to this important event of history…
…Twenty thousand Japanese soldiers landed at different places in South Andamans on March 23, 1942. There was no resistance from the local population and within three hours they were in complete control of the islands. A big crowd gathered at the jetty to welcome them… The same afternoon a different group of soldiers pounced like hungry wolves on shops, looting everything they could lay their hands on.
…The Japanese indulged in the rape and abduction of women. The soldiers in liaison with civil police would enter the houses of the people and forcibly rape women and indulge in sodomy with young boys. The Japanese surpassed Halaku and Chengiz Khan in deriving pleasure from the unbelievable orgies they engaged themselves in…
…The Japanese arrested eight high-ranking Indian officials who were considered to be very close to them in the first spy case in October, 1943. They were tortured and beaten for a number of days to extract false confessions. After they confessed, they were starved and taken to an isolated place. They were forced to dig a trench and buried alive up to the waist. The soldiers then struck them in their eyes, head and waist with their bayonets, then sprayed bullets till they were dead…
…Diwan Singh, who lodged a strong protest with the Governor and the Vice-Admiral, was brutally tortured for 82 days, a parallel of which is difficult to find in human history. He was hung with his hair from the ceiling. At other occasions, his ankles were tied to ceiling, water was pumped through his mouth and nostrils, and he was tied to a stake, and his bones were crunched and subjected to electric shocks. Fire was burned under his thighs; nails pulled from his fingers and toes. Flesh from various parts of his body was pulled daily, and he was forced to sit on a charcoal stove. His eyeballs were gouged, but the Japanese failed to break his spirit. He died on January 14, 1944….
…In the first week of June, 1945, hundreds of educated families were lodged in the cellular jail on a false promise that they are being taken to a virgin soil to lead a comfortable life. They were boarded on a number of transport aircraft. On sighting the Havelock Island, situated at a distance of 50 miles from Port Blair, they were ordered to jump in the sea. Whoever hesitated was beaten with the rifle butts, some were struck with swords and bayonets. Out of 1,500, about 250 swam ashore to die of hunger and starvation. In a fortnight half of them died; the rest were struggling to survive on the leaves and bark of trees, as the soil was saline and unproductive. In the end only one person named Mohammad Saudagar survived to tell the story of woe…
…There was only one Dr Diwan Singh, the dark times failed to paralyse and who set aside all precautions in resisting the unpredictable Japanese. This gruesome event of Japanese Barbarism must be unfolded to convince the world about the ‘dirty war’ waged by the Japanese…”
The Japanese are also ‘credited’ with introducing slugs and snails not native to the Andamans, to the forests of the Andamans, for food; these remain as invasive species, disrupting the ecological balance in the fragile ecology of the Andamans.
TOURISM IN THE ANDAMANS: THREE ASPECTS THAT STRIKE US:
1. A laudable aspect: Nationalist tourism: Visit to the Cellular Jail
“…Cellular Jail, located at Port Blair, stood mute witness to the tortures meted out to the freedom fighters, who were incarcerated in this jail. The jail, completed in the year 1906 acquired the name ‘Cellular’ because it is entirely made up of individual cells for the solitary confinement. It originally was a seven prolonged, puce-coloured building with central-tower acting as its fulcrum and a massive structure comprising honeycomb like corridors. The building was subsequently damaged and presently three out of the seven prongs are intact. The Jail, now a place of pilgrimage for all freedom loving people, has been declared a National Memorial. The jail museum here draws your memories back to those years of freedom struggle….”
Veer Savarkar was incarcerated there. In “माझी जन्मठेप” (‘My imprisonment for life’) – Savarkar ji’s autobiography segment on his life in the Andaman Cellular Jail, Savarkarji composed some of his deepest compositions (prose and poetry) there amidst uncertainty of his future and amidst physical abuse and mental harassment; his saga warrants a separate blogpiece.
Mani Shankar Iyer – minister of the Sonia Gandhi government had removed Savarkar’s plaque from the prison. It was later reinstalled when the Modi government came to power. The plaque had originally been installed after a citizen’s initiative of his supporters from Vile Parle, Mumbai.
2. Nature tourism:
Andaman islands are unique in that they have a sea mammal, the Dugong, in their waters.
The Dugong is viewed by snorkelling or scuba diving in the clear waters of the Andaman sea.
Scuba diving is a fun water sport popular in many parts of India’s coast, including Maharashtra and Lakshadwip, but the presence of Dugongs makes Andaman unique.
Andaman’s ecosystem is fragile and we have to be conscious of keeping it protected. This ecosystem includes the tribes.
3. The deplorable aspect: Tribal safaris: a shame to India:
The number of vehicles that go to watch naked tribals on the Grad Trunk Road, indicates how the tourism industry has fallen to deplorable levels.
Sadly, modern tourists have taken to filming the Jarawas, who have been coming out of the forests for some years now. Women are filmed dancing naked.
There are safaris organised by tourist companies to take tourists along the chief highways of the Andaman islands, as if Andamanese islanders were animals in a wildlife park. Tourists throw biscuits or force Jarawa women to dance for food. Tribal safaris are a big business.
An audio clip reveals that poachers and settlers are introducing the Jarawa tribe to alcohol and marijuana. http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/jarawa-man-speaks-out-against-sexual-abuse-of-young-women-43409 A Jarawa man spoke up against abuse of Jarawa women in 2004.
In 2014, eight Jarawa girls were rescued from two remote creeks in Andaman and Nicobar Islands after they were kidnapped by a group of men from a Jarawa Reserve Zone.
An e-campaign that asked for boycotting all tourism in Andaman to protect these indigenous people was extremely successful.
It shamed India; the Supreme Court asked the Andaman authorities to first stop all tourism.
Later, tourism was re-allowed with strict Court Orders for preventing misbehaviour. http://www.newspaper.indianlife.org/story/2013/03/15/news/india-supreme-court-reverses-order-to-ban-human-safaris/248.html But Survivor Internationaal, a worldwide organisaation that works for protecting the rights and identtity of unconttacted and non-mainstream tribals, waas disappointed with the order.
Journalists who film Jarawas being fed for a dance, are also attacked.
‘Mainstreaming’ has had a devastating impact on tribal peoples around the world.
The Bo tribe people were forcibly assimilated by the British. Their last member – the woman above being the very last member of her ‘Bo’ tribe alive – died in 2010, and the tribe went extinct.
India does not have a history of taking over the land of another nation and colonising it, but is the India of today doing what the American loggers are doing to the uncontacted Amazon tribes in Southern America’s deep jungles? The issue of colonisation of the lands of indigenous people is too nuanced to not be spoken about.
This sensitive topic has the potential to create a bad reputation for India in the comity of Western nations. The application of the thought paradigm – of tribals getting colonised – is getting applied everywhere in the hinterland of mainland India’s remote places and jungles. While the cases of human abuse of tribals in Indian jungles are genuine, the hijacking of the issue of project-affected people into an indigenous-versus-Aryan schism by watermelon environmentalists warrants that we inform ourselves about the meaning of the words Bhoomiputra, indigenous, etc. and lay our own definitions and criteria in the domain of public debate.
Already, Ambedkarites aare talking about the exploitation of the Jarawas: “Indigenous Mulnivasi Bahujan as Human safaris exploit Jarawas with cops’ aid!”
Madhusree Mukherjee, a confirmed anti-Hindu Marxist who has written various books, has also written on Andaman islands. She had been my facebook friend, and had unfriended me for my pro-Hindu views.
Her proposition is India has declared war on her own people – the tribals of various parts of India – and her writings can be fodder for anti-India sentiment in international fora.
India has also got to invest in understanding that Andamanese and Nicobarese languages are Indian languages. In particular, genetic and linguistic data will be more prone to political application by the anti-Hindu and anti-India lobby to bring shame onto India – what Rajiv Malhotra ji would have called the ‘BI’ or ‘Breaking India’ forces.
The Jarawa tribe are an Indian heritage, and must be protected by the government, not be left to be exploited by the ‘urban’ population. https://www.scoopwhoop.com/news/boycott-andaman-and-nicobar-islands/#.pu5dgk38m
Logging of timber forests in the Andaman islands: illegal and ignored:
Illegal deforestation of the Andamans by contractors based in mainland India, which displaces the indigenous tribes there and harms the environment, is similar to deforestation of rainforestts across the world. It is deplorable that Indiaa has also got people who indulge in eco-social crime.
States an investigative study:
“…Logging operators and government agencies have systematically violated both the laws and the resources of Little Andaman. In the 1960s, the Government of India introduced major development and colonization programs for the island. These programs have destroyed vast areas of forest and have severely affected the Onge tribe. Over the last 35 years, roughly 30% of the island has been taken over by outsiders for settlements, agriculture, timber extraction, and plantations. These developments have adversely affected the island’s flora and fauna as well as the Onge themselves.A coalition of Indian social and environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) initiated legal action to stop the deforestation in 1999. These efforts led to landmark injunctions on all timber felling operations in the islands by the Supreme Court of India in October 2001 and May 2002…”
HOW THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT IS SECURING THE STRATEGIC POSITION OF THE ANDAMAN, NICOBAR AND LAKSHADWIP ISLANDS:
Since China is also active in the Indian Ocean now, India has brought in unmanned aerial vehicles and Poseidon submarine hunter-killer aircraft. This was announced around January 2016.
This will help overlook Chinese activity in the north of Andaman and Nicobar.
To take further what previous governments did, the Modi regime has begun developing air and naval bases in the Andaman-Nicobar islands.
This includes the INS Baaz in Campbell Bay, Nicobar, overlooking the Malacca straits. This is to the South Of Andaman-Nicobar.
In the Lakshadwip islands, the Indian Navy has set up more bases like the new base at Androth island.
This was announced around 26th April 2016.
Closing this blog: A mark of respect for the Indian defence forces. Jai Hind.
- Get involved. Go to Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadwip. Write on this subject.
- Support the effort to counter China’s encirclement of India, by being part of international fora discussions.
- Be conscious politically as well as ecologically. Study of a subject is always multi-faceted.
- Please share this article and give your comments.
IMAGE COURTESIES, FURTHER READING AND E-REFERENCES: