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Re: [andamanicobar] Press Release on 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami by the Tribal Council of Nancowrie

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  • manish chandi
    The press relaease is a serious plea for help in the matters outlined therin. For many years the dept of forests were trying to make inroads into the already
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 1, 2007
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      The press relaease is a serious plea for help in the
      matters outlined therin. For many years the dept of
      forests were trying to make inroads into the already
      'reserved' forests, that are otherwise categorised as
      a tribal protected area, in the name of conservation
      of coastal forest and other regions in the interior.
      It even had an outpost on Tillanchong island along
      with a police guard post- both of these suffered the
      ills of malaria and boredom without adequate
      infrastructure toward effective protection.Wild boar
      formed a easy source of protien for these camps. they
      seem to forget that the nicobarese have traditional
      rights that have been in vogue for long with certain
      families/villages (eg from Trinket/pilpillo/kakana in
      the central group with regard to tillanchong, and
      Kondul and Pulomilo for islets further north such as
      Treis Trak and Meroe)regarded as custodians of the
      plantations and forest. Even though the nicobarese do
      not hunt and gather, it is pertinent to build on the
      strengths of traditional mores and effect conservation
      goals with the islanders rather than isolate them from
      the process by posting people from the Andamans to
      look after forests in the Nicobars- which have
      remained relatively intact all these years due to
      their form of management.
      more serious offences have been in the
      form of the navy usurping and claiming legal
      entitlement in the aftermath of the tsunami- a slight
      that can never be righted if a high handed attitude
      continues- past records(im not sure if they exist now-
      rashid will be able to throw some light) will show the
      kind of obeisence that naval forces and other
      dignitaries in the past have paid to those families in
      power, catering toward an atmosphere of stewardship in
      co-managing the islands with the indigenous groups. it
      is increasingly being seen that post tsunami,
      administrative officers, NGO's and dignitaries are
      using the aftermath to carry out agendas of
      transforming centres of indigenous administration
      toward the inappropriate models of corruption and
      bureaucracy conducive to their growth rather than the
      intended beneficiaries that plagues the rest of the
      country. the nicobars can do very well without such
      interference and can teach more than a lesson or two
      toward island ecology and management of disasters
      within their forms of social organisation.

      --- Madhu Sarin <msarin@...> wrote:

      > I wonder if the recently passed forest rights act
      > could support the Tribal Council of Nancowrie and
      > the Nicobarese in their struggle. Could someone pass
      > on a copy of the Act to them? Reservation of
      > customary Nicobarese ancestral lands as state
      > forests is in direct opposition to the Act's primary
      > objective of recognising tribal rights. To begin
      > with, a copy of the Act should be shown to the
      > forest department and the islands' Administration.
      > If that doesn't work, maybe a legal challenge could
      > be considered? I think Pankaj has a copy of the Act
      > - if not, I can send a verified soft copy (although
      > I don't think it has yet been signed by the
      > President but that should get done as a matter of
      > course soon).
      > Madhu
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: Pankaj
      > To: andamanicobar@...
      > Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2006 3:43 PM
      > Subject: [andamanicobar] Press Release on 2nd
      > Anniversary of the Tsunami by the Tribal Council of
      > Nancowrie
      >
      >
      > PRESS RELEASE
      > on the occasion of the 2nd Anniversary of the
      > Tsunami, 26th December 2006
      >
      > by
      > Tribal Council of Nancowrie, Central Nicobar
      > Islands
      > Email: tribalcouncil.nancowrie@...
      > Tel: 09434284444
      >
      > Two years after the tsunami, it is still a long
      > way to go for the
      > Nicobarese, indigenous inhabitants of the Nicobar
      > archipelago in the Bay of
      > Bengal. Even as we have grappled with tremendous
      > losses directly caused by
      > the tsunami - of lives, of materials, our means of
      > subsistence and way of
      > life and culture - the post-tsunami period has
      > only brought added misery. In
      > part this is due to internal conflict and a sudden
      > change in lifestyle. But
      > it is also due to fresh threats to our very
      > existence due to certain moves
      > made by various agencies of the government and
      > non-government organizations.
      > Despite the rehabilitation measures initiated by
      > the administration
      > (government) - for which we remain grateful - we
      > continue to live in an
      > atmosphere of great fear and uncertainty over our
      > future. For us, the
      > present situation is marked by the following:
      >
      > Threat from the Forest Department: Through a
      > recent proclamation of the
      > Forest Settlement Officer it has been announced
      > that the entire land area of
      > our islands excluding the village area, is being
      > constituted as Reserved
      > Forest under the ownership of the Forest
      > Department. This means that the
      > Nicobarese will henceforth be treated as
      > trespassers in their own forests
      > and punished for the same. This development is a
      > deathblow for us. We have
      > lived on these islands for centuries together. All
      > land has been divided
      > amongst ourselves by our forefathers and the
      > demarcations made by them are
      > observed by us to this day. As a primarily
      > hunting-gathering tribe we depend
      > upon the forest for our very sustenance. We attach
      > great cultural and
      > economic significance to them and it is impossible
      > for us to live in
      > separation for them. We love our forests and care
      > for them - their very
      > existence over the centuries is testimony to this
      > fact. On the contrary, the
      > damage inflicted to our forests has begun only
      > after the Forest Department
      > established its presence in our islands. It is
      > therefore, not acceptable to
      > us in the least that our forests should be
      > declared Reserve Forests.
      >
      > Occupation and Encroachment upon Tribal Land: For
      > many years now, we have
      > time and again raised the matter of our lands
      > being encroached upon by
      > non-tribals running variety of trade illegally,
      > whose very presence in our
      > islands is illegal according to the Andaman &
      > Nicobar (Protection of
      > Aboriginal Tribes) Regulations, 1956. After the
      > tsunami, this situation has
      > been compounded by some departments of the
      > administration who are occupying
      > tribal land without permission for constructing
      > their offices. Further
      > adding to our agony, INS Kardip, the naval base on
      > Kamorta Island, is
      > objecting to the construction of permanent
      > shelters in several villages
      > claiming these sites to be under its ownership.
      > Work in these villages has
      > come to a standstill and the people continue to
      > languish in temporary
      > shelters on the verge of collapse. It is
      > impossible for the figure to be
      > 208 acres since there are large villages outside
      > this extent and these have
      > been in existence for at least a few hundred
      > years. Unfortunately, all our
      > records have been washed away by the tsunami and
      > we are unable to provide
      > documentary evidence from our end. However, our
      > predicament is not being
      > understood. Consequently, the Nicobarese people
      > are under siege from all
      > sides and we do not know where to look.
      >
      > Location of Permanent Shelters: Even as the
      > construction of permanent
      > shelters is going on slowly, fresh difficulties
      > are arising for us and
      > causing further delay. Despite assurances from
      > senior government officers as
      > well as the Hon'ble Lieutenant Governor that our
      > requirements will be
      > honoured, the building contractor and the Central
      > Public Works Department
      > (CPWD), the government agency responsible for
      > permanent housing, want to
      > construct the permanent shelters very close to
      > each other to suit their own
      > convenience. This condition is too difficult for
      > us to accept. The location
      > and layout of the village and of the houses are
      > central to the Nicobarese
      > way of life. The space around our houses is
      > essential for carrying out
      > traditional rituals and ceremonies; for
      > maintaining livestock as well as
      > small plantations of fruit trees. Our life style
      > is different from that of
      > mainlanders and we very much hope that the
      > administration can appreciate and
      > respect this difference as it has been doing
      > before.
      >
      > Boats: Boats are the very lifeline of our island
      > existence but are yet to be
      > distributed to all the deserving families. In
      > their absence, these families
      > are unable to develop a source of livelihood.
      > Further, 18 boats given by an
      > NGO which were in community use across the islands
      > have all broken down
      > since they were made of fibre-glass. These need to
      > be replaced with wooden
      > boats.
      >
      > Insensitivity of local administrative officer: The
      > Nicobarese are suffering
      > at the hands of of Shri.S.C.Tyagi, the Assistant
      > Commissioner, Nancowrie,
      > senior-most administrative officer in these
      > islands. He is authoritarian and
      > high-handed, and does not seem to believe in the
      > participation of the
      > Nicobarese people in decision-making. He is also
      > highly insensitive to our
      > traditional ways of life. His continued presence
      > in office is highly
      > detrimental to the ongoing process of
      > rehabilitation.
      >
      > Impact of Aid Agencies: We are thankful to the
      > various aid agencies/NGOs
      > that came forward to help us soon after the
      > tsunami. Yet we feel that their
      > overall impact has not been a positive one. First,
      > some NGOs tend to operate
      > with a lack of transparency. For example, we came
      > to know that an NGO called
      > Butterflies was carrying out activities in our
      > island without the knowledge
      > of the Tribal Council. Second, NGOs sometimes seek
      > only token participation
      > of the village captains/Tribal Council to lend
      > legitimacy to their own
      > agenda, which often do not address our real
      > requirements. Third, many of the
      > training programmes being carried out are
      > meaningless
      === message truncated ===


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    • Sharbendu De
      Dear Mr. Vivek, We do observe that you have alleged Butterflies of doing harm to the cause of the tribal people in Nancowrie, in your public statement given
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 2, 2007
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        Dear Mr. Vivek,

        We do observe that you have alleged Butterflies of doing 'harm to the cause' of the tribal people in Nancowrie, in your public statement given in this forum.

        What the tribal council had said is that they were unaware of Butterflies presence in Nancowrie. We have already responded to that.

        If you read very carefully, they have made no allegations on us about 'doing harm'. It is very senstive of the tribal council who haven't gone into defaming someone's reputation, but expressed concern and we very much respect that.

        However, your allegation places matters on a very different and rather uncomfortable note. May I request you to kindly substantiate your allegation with appropriate evidences.

        It would be interesting to hear of your credentials with respect to the understanding of A&N Islands and it's tribal cultures.

        With regards
        Sharbendu De
        Programme Manager
        Butterflies


        ----- Original Message ----
        From: V.Vivekanandan <vivek@...>
        To: andamanicobar@...
        Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2006 10:14:31 PM
        Subject: Re: [andamanicobar] Press Release on 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami by the Tribal Council of Nancowrie

        Dear friends,

        This is an amazing statement coming from the tribal council very clearly listing out the issues and taking clear stand on many issues. The issues like the forest department take over of the forests and the location of permanent shelters are very serious indeed. While good deeds by Govt and NGOs have been properly acknowledged, the tribal council is also straight forward in denouncing what is thinks are wrong and has not shied away from naming individuals (e.g. S.C.Thyagi) and organisations (e.g. Butterflies) who are doing harm to their cause. We need to express our solidarity with the tribal council on these issues and see how we can take up the issues on the mainland.

        Regards,

        Vivek

        V.Vivekanandan
        Chief Executive
        South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies
        Karamana
        Trivandrum 695 002

        Ph: +91-471-2343711, 2343178
        Res: +91-471-2501018
        Mobile: +91-9847084840

        E-mail: vivek@siffs. org

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Pankaj
        To: andamanicobar@ yahoogroups. co.in
        Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2006 3:43 PM
        Subject: [andamanicobar] Press Release on 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami by the Tribal Council of Nancowrie

        PRESS RELEASE
        on the occasion of the 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami, 26th December 2006

        by
        Tribal Council of Nancowrie, Central Nicobar Islands
        Email: tribalcouncil. nancowrie@ gmail.com
        Tel: 09434284444

        Two years after the tsunami, it is still a long way to go for the
        Nicobarese, indigenous inhabitants of the Nicobar archipelago in the Bay of
        Bengal. Even as we have grappled with tremendous losses directly caused by
        the tsunami - of lives, of materials, our means of subsistence and way of
        life and culture - the post-tsunami period has only brought added misery. In
        part this is due to internal conflict and a sudden change in lifestyle. But
        it is also due to fresh threats to our very existence due to certain moves
        made by various agencies of the government and non-government organizations.
        Despite the rehabilitation measures initiated by the administration
        (government) - for which we remain grateful - we continue to live in an
        atmosphere of great fear and uncertainty over our future. For us, the
        present situation is marked by the following:

        Threat from the Forest Department: Through a recent proclamation of the
        Forest Settlement Officer it has been announced that the entire land area of
        our islands excluding the village area, is being constituted as Reserved
        Forest under the ownership of the Forest Department. This means that the
        Nicobarese will henceforth be treated as trespassers in their own forests
        and punished for the same. This development is a deathblow for us. We have
        lived on these islands for centuries together. All land has been divided
        amongst ourselves by our forefathers and the demarcations made by them are
        observed by us to this day. As a primarily hunting-gathering tribe we depend
        upon the forest for our very sustenance. We attach great cultural and
        economic significance to them and it is impossible for us to live in
        separation for them. We love our forests and care for them - their very
        existence over the centuries is testimony to this fact. On the contrary, the
        damage inflicted to our forests has begun only after the Forest Department
        established its presence in our islands. It is therefore, not acceptable to
        us in the least that our forests should be declared Reserve Forests.

        Occupation and Encroachment upon Tribal Land: For many years now, we have
        time and again raised the matter of our lands being encroached upon by
        non-tribals running variety of trade illegally, whose very presence in our
        islands is illegal according to the Andaman & Nicobar (Protection of
        Aboriginal Tribes) Regulations, 1956. After the tsunami, this situation has
        been compounded by some departments of the administration who are occupying
        tribal land without permission for constructing their offices. Further
        adding to our agony, INS Kardip, the naval base on Kamorta Island, is
        objecting to the construction of permanent shelters in several villages
        claiming these sites to be under its ownership. Work in these villages has
        come to a standstill and the people continue to languish in temporary
        shelters on the verge of collapse. It is impossible for the figure to be
        208 acres since there are large villages outside this extent and these have
        been in existence for at least a few hundred years. Unfortunately, all our
        records have been washed away by the tsunami and we are unable to provide
        documentary evidence from our end. However, our predicament is not being
        understood. Consequently, the Nicobarese people are under siege from all
        sides and we do not know where to look.

        Location of Permanent Shelters: Even as the construction of permanent
        shelters is going on slowly, fresh difficulties are arising for us and
        causing further delay. Despite assurances from senior government officers as
        well as the Hon'ble Lieutenant Governor that our requirements will be
        honoured, the building contractor and the Central Public Works Department
        (CPWD), the government agency responsible for permanent housing, want to
        construct the permanent shelters very close to each other to suit their own
        convenience. This condition is too difficult for us to accept. The location
        and layout of the village and of the houses are central to the Nicobarese
        way of life. The space around our houses is essential for carrying out
        traditional rituals and ceremonies; for maintaining livestock as well as
        small plantations of fruit trees. Our life style is different from that of
        mainlanders and we very much hope that the administration can appreciate and
        respect this difference as it has been doing before.

        Boats: Boats are the very lifeline of our island existence but are yet to be
        distributed to all the deserving families. In their absence, these families
        are unable to develop a source of livelihood. Further, 18 boats given by an
        NGO which were in community use across the islands have all broken down
        since they were made of fibre-glass. These need to be replaced with wooden
        boats.

        Insensitivity of local administrative officer: The Nicobarese are suffering
        at the hands of of Shri.S.C.Tyagi, the Assistant Commissioner, Nancowrie,
        senior-most administrative officer in these islands. He is authoritarian and
        high-handed, and does not seem to believe in the participation of the
        Nicobarese people in decision-making. He is also highly insensitive to our
        traditional ways of life. His continued presence in office is highly
        detrimental to the ongoing process of rehabilitation.

        Impact of Aid Agencies: We are thankful to the various aid agencies/NGOs
        that came forward to help us soon after the tsunami. Yet we feel that their
        overall impact has not been a positive one. First, some NGOs tend to operate
        with a lack of transparency. For example, we came to know that an NGO called
        Butterflies was carrying out activities in our island without the knowledge
        of the Tribal Council. Second, NGOs sometimes seek only token participation
        of the village captains/Tribal Council to lend legitimacy to their own
        agenda, which often do not address our real requirements. Third, many of the
        training programmes being carried out are meaningless for us. They seem to
        be theoretical and literature-based, and are beyond comprehension for the
        average Nicobarese.

        Death Certificates not issued in the name of Missing Persons: Death
        certificates have not been issued in the name of the persons whose bodies
        were not recovered after the tsunami. As a result, the local bank is unable
        to transfer the money lying in their accounts to the next of kin. Since most
        deaths in the tsunami fall in this category (of missing persons) great
        hardship is being caused to the heirs of missing persons.

        Waiver of old loans and disbursal of new ones: Despite an assurance from the
        administration that the outstanding amount on loans taken pre-tsunami by the
        Nicobarese would be waived, directions are yet to be received by the banks
        concerned.

        Meanwhile, candidates identified by the Department of Industries for award
        of loans for self-employment activities are still waiting for their loan
        amounts. There are now more people who have undergone training by NGOs or
        the Administration. They require loans to make use of their recently
        acquired skills to earn a livelihood.

        THE WAY FORWARD

        Our vision of development is one in which economic well-being is nurtured
        along with our social and cultural integrity. Some of our ideas in this
        direction are as follows:

        Economic Development: The Nicobarese wish to promote economic development
        through the cooperative structure. This will reduce exploitation of the
        Nicobarese by outsiders and will ensure an equitable distribution of
        resources and opportunities. For this purpose, funds (including grant-in-aid
        towards infrastructure and working capital) are requested to be sanctioned
        to a pre-existing primary cooperative society to strengthen its activities.

        Social and cultural integrity: Despite legal restrictions, immigrant traders
        have illegally established themselves in several parts of the Nicobar
        Islands and engage in an unequal exchange with the Nicobarese leading to
        their exploitation. Many Nicobarese are presently under their debt and
        nearly all money received as compensation after tsunami has ended up in
        their hands. These immigrant traders are not only an economic threat but
        challenge the social and cultural integrity of the Nicobarese. The
        Nicobarese request their removal from the islands.

        Improvement of infrastructure and services: Educational and health services
        need to be given a major boost. The quality of education is currently very
        poor; apart from addressing this, elements of Nicobarese history, culture
        and craft need to be made part of the educational curriculum. Health
        services are extremely inadequate; the way to improve them is to establish
        good communications and transport infrastructure, apart from upgrading
        existing medical facilities and establishing medical facilities where they
        are currently non-existent. Inter-island transport and communication is
        currently a severe problem and is one of the biggest handicaps in the
        development of our islands.

        Motivating government staff: Due to the poor infrastructure and services in
        the islands, most government staff are always in a hurry to get posted back
        to Port Blair/Andaman District. Further, they look down upon us and
        contribute very much to the average Nicobarese's lack of self-esteem.
        Government servants need to be sensitized to our way of life and motivated
        to serve in our islands.

        Right to land and self-governance: All of the land (unless surrendered for
        various purposes) traditionally belong to the Nicobarese families. Every
        area, inhabited or uninhabited has an owner. We request that our right to
        their land is respected and protected. Furthermore, we have their own system
        of governance based on elections. Therefore, we desire very much that our
        Tribal Councils be recognised as a legal entity and the islands be brought
        under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to strengthen our traditional
        rights and self-governance system.

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




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        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • V.Vivekanandan
        Dear Sharbendu, I realise that I have made a comment about Butterflies based on a quick reading of the tribal council s statement. I had just assumed, unfairly
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 2, 2007
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          Dear Sharbendu,

          I realise that I have made a comment about Butterflies based on a quick reading of the tribal council's statement. I had just assumed, unfairly I realise, that the Tribal council singling out Butterflies in their statement meant that they had some serious problems with the activities of Butterflies in their island. I apologise for this lapse on my part. I have no previous knowledge of Butterflies and should not have made such a comment.

          Regards,

          Vivek

          V.Vivekanandan
          Chief Executive
          South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies
          Karamana
          Trivandrum 695 002

          Ph: +91-471-2343711, 2343178
          Res: +91-471-2501018
          Mobile: +91-9847084840

          E-mail: vivek@...

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Sharbendu De
          To: vivek@...
          Cc: andamanicobar@... ; Rita Panicker ; Gerry Pinto
          Sent: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 2:27 PM
          Subject: Re: [andamanicobar] Press Release on 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami by the Tribal Council of Nancowrie


          Dear Mr. Vivek,

          We do observe that you have alleged Butterflies of doing 'harm to the cause' of the tribal people in Nancowrie, in your public statement given in this forum.

          What the tribal council had said is that they were unaware of Butterflies presence in Nancowrie. We have already responded to that.

          If you read very carefully, they have made no allegations on us about 'doing harm'. It is very senstive of the tribal council who haven't gone into defaming someone's reputation, but expressed concern and we very much respect that.

          However, your allegation places matters on a very different and rather uncomfortable note. May I request you to kindly substantiate your allegation with appropriate evidences.

          It would be interesting to hear of your credentials with respect to the understanding of A&N Islands and it's tribal cultures.

          With regards
          Sharbendu De
          Programme Manager
          Butterflies

          ----- Original Message ----
          From: V.Vivekanandan <vivek@...>
          To: andamanicobar@...
          Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2006 10:14:31 PM
          Subject: Re: [andamanicobar] Press Release on 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami by the Tribal Council of Nancowrie

          Dear friends,

          This is an amazing statement coming from the tribal council very clearly listing out the issues and taking clear stand on many issues. The issues like the forest department take over of the forests and the location of permanent shelters are very serious indeed. While good deeds by Govt and NGOs have been properly acknowledged, the tribal council is also straight forward in denouncing what is thinks are wrong and has not shied away from naming individuals (e.g. S.C.Thyagi) and organisations (e.g. Butterflies) who are doing harm to their cause. We need to express our solidarity with the tribal council on these issues and see how we can take up the issues on the mainland.

          Regards,

          Vivek

          V.Vivekanandan
          Chief Executive
          South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies
          Karamana
          Trivandrum 695 002

          Ph: +91-471-2343711, 2343178
          Res: +91-471-2501018
          Mobile: +91-9847084840

          E-mail: vivek@siffs. org

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Pankaj
          To: andamanicobar@ yahoogroups. co.in
          Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2006 3:43 PM
          Subject: [andamanicobar] Press Release on 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami by the Tribal Council of Nancowrie

          PRESS RELEASE
          on the occasion of the 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami, 26th December 2006

          by
          Tribal Council of Nancowrie, Central Nicobar Islands
          Email: tribalcouncil. nancowrie@ gmail.com
          Tel: 09434284444

          Two years after the tsunami, it is still a long way to go for the
          Nicobarese, indigenous inhabitants of the Nicobar archipelago in the Bay of
          Bengal. Even as we have grappled with tremendous losses directly caused by
          the tsunami - of lives, of materials, our means of subsistence and way of
          life and culture - the post-tsunami period has only brought added misery. In
          part this is due to internal conflict and a sudden change in lifestyle. But
          it is also due to fresh threats to our very existence due to certain moves
          made by various agencies of the government and non-government organizations.
          Despite the rehabilitation measures initiated by the administration
          (government) - for which we remain grateful - we continue to live in an
          atmosphere of great fear and uncertainty over our future. For us, the
          present situation is marked by the following:

          Threat from the Forest Department: Through a recent proclamation of the
          Forest Settlement Officer it has been announced that the entire land area of
          our islands excluding the village area, is being constituted as Reserved
          Forest under the ownership of the Forest Department. This means that the
          Nicobarese will henceforth be treated as trespassers in their own forests
          and punished for the same. This development is a deathblow for us. We have
          lived on these islands for centuries together. All land has been divided
          amongst ourselves by our forefathers and the demarcations made by them are
          observed by us to this day. As a primarily hunting-gathering tribe we depend
          upon the forest for our very sustenance. We attach great cultural and
          economic significance to them and it is impossible for us to live in
          separation for them. We love our forests and care for them - their very
          existence over the centuries is testimony to this fact. On the contrary, the
          damage inflicted to our forests has begun only after the Forest Department
          established its presence in our islands. It is therefore, not acceptable to
          us in the least that our forests should be declared Reserve Forests.

          Occupation and Encroachment upon Tribal Land: For many years now, we have
          time and again raised the matter of our lands being encroached upon by
          non-tribals running variety of trade illegally, whose very presence in our
          islands is illegal according to the Andaman & Nicobar (Protection of
          Aboriginal Tribes) Regulations, 1956. After the tsunami, this situation has
          been compounded by some departments of the administration who are occupying
          tribal land without permission for constructing their offices. Further
          adding to our agony, INS Kardip, the naval base on Kamorta Island, is
          objecting to the construction of permanent shelters in several villages
          claiming these sites to be under its ownership. Work in these villages has
          come to a standstill and the people continue to languish in temporary
          shelters on the verge of collapse. It is impossible for the figure to be
          208 acres since there are large villages outside this extent and these have
          been in existence for at least a few hundred years. Unfortunately, all our
          records have been washed away by the tsunami and we are unable to provide
          documentary evidence from our end. However, our predicament is not being
          understood. Consequently, the Nicobarese people are under siege from all
          sides and we do not know where to look.

          Location of Permanent Shelters: Even as the construction of permanent
          shelters is going on slowly, fresh difficulties are arising for us and
          causing further delay. Despite assurances from senior government officers as
          well as the Hon'ble Lieutenant Governor that our requirements will be
          honoured, the building contractor and the Central Public Works Department
          (CPWD), the government agency responsible for permanent housing, want to
          construct the permanent shelters very close to each other to suit their own
          convenience. This condition is too difficult for us to accept. The location
          and layout of the village and of the houses are central to the Nicobarese
          way of life. The space around our houses is essential for carrying out
          traditional rituals and ceremonies; for maintaining livestock as well as
          small plantations of fruit trees. Our life style is different from that of
          mainlanders and we very much hope that the administration can appreciate and
          respect this difference as it has been doing before.

          Boats: Boats are the very lifeline of our island existence but are yet to be
          distributed to all the deserving families. In their absence, these families
          are unable to develop a source of livelihood. Further, 18 boats given by an
          NGO which were in community use across the islands have all broken down
          since they were made of fibre-glass. These need to be replaced with wooden
          boats.

          Insensitivity of local administrative officer: The Nicobarese are suffering
          at the hands of of Shri.S.C.Tyagi, the Assistant Commissioner, Nancowrie,
          senior-most administrative officer in these islands. He is authoritarian and
          high-handed, and does not seem to believe in the participation of the
          Nicobarese people in decision-making. He is also highly insensitive to our
          traditional ways of life. His continued presence in office is highly
          detrimental to the ongoing process of rehabilitation.

          Impact of Aid Agencies: We are thankful to the various aid agencies/NGOs
          that came forward to help us soon after the tsunami. Yet we feel that their
          overall impact has not been a positive one. First, some NGOs tend to operate
          with a lack of transparency. For example, we came to know that an NGO called
          Butterflies was carrying out activities in our island without the knowledge
          of the Tribal Council. Second, NGOs sometimes seek only token participation
          of the village captains/Tribal Council to lend legitimacy to their own
          agenda, which often do not address our real requirements. Third, many of the
          training programmes being carried out are meaningless for us. They seem to
          be theoretical and literature-based, and are beyond comprehension for the
          average Nicobarese.

          Death Certificates not issued in the name of Missing Persons: Death
          certificates have not been issued in the name of the persons whose bodies
          were not recovered after the tsunami. As a result, the local bank is unable
          to transfer the money lying in their accounts to the next of kin. Since most
          deaths in the tsunami fall in this category (of missing persons) great
          hardship is being caused to the heirs of missing persons.

          Waiver of old loans and disbursal of new ones: Despite an assurance from the
          administration that the outstanding amount on loans taken pre-tsunami by the
          Nicobarese would be waived, directions are yet to be received by the banks
          concerned.

          Meanwhile, candidates identified by the Department of Industries for award
          of loans for self-employment activities are still waiting for their loan
          amounts. There are now more people who have undergone training by NGOs or
          the Administration. They require loans to make use of their recently
          acquired skills to earn a livelihood.

          THE WAY FORWARD

          Our vision of development is one in which economic well-being is nurtured
          along with our social and cultural integrity. Some of our ideas in this
          direction are as follows:

          Economic Development: The Nicobarese wish to promote economic development
          through the cooperative structure. This will reduce exploitation of the
          Nicobarese by outsiders and will ensure an equitable distribution of
          resources and opportunities. For this purpose, funds (including grant-in-aid
          towards infrastructure and working capital) are requested to be sanctioned
          to a pre-existing primary cooperative society to strengthen its activities.

          Social and cultural integrity: Despite legal restrictions, immigrant traders
          have illegally established themselves in several parts of the Nicobar
          Islands and engage in an unequal exchange with the Nicobarese leading to
          their exploitation. Many Nicobarese are presently under their debt and
          nearly all money received as compensation after tsunami has ended up in
          their hands. These immigrant traders are not only an economic threat but
          challenge the social and cultural integrity of the Nicobarese. The
          Nicobarese request their removal from the islands.

          Improvement of infrastructure and services: Educational and health services
          need to be given a major boost. The quality of education is currently very
          poor; apart from addressing this, elements of Nicobarese history, culture
          and craft need to be made part of the educational curriculum. Health
          services are extremely inadequate; the way to improve them is to establish
          good communications and transport infrastructure, apart from upgrading
          existing medical facilities and establishing medical facilities where they
          are currently non-existent. Inter-island transport and communication is
          currently a severe problem and is one of the biggest handicaps in the
          development of our islands.

          Motivating government staff: Due to the poor infrastructure and services in
          the islands, most government staff are always in a hurry to get posted back
          to Port Blair/Andaman District. Further, they look down upon us and
          contribute very much to the average Nicobarese's lack of self-esteem.
          Government servants need to be sensitized to our way of life and motivated
          to serve in our islands.

          Right to land and self-governance: All of the land (unless surrendered for
          various purposes) traditionally belong to the Nicobarese families. Every
          area, inhabited or uninhabited has an owner. We request that our right to
          their land is respected and protected. Furthermore, we have their own system
          of governance based on elections. Therefore, we desire very much that our
          Tribal Councils be recognised as a legal entity and the islands be brought
          under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to strengthen our traditional
          rights and self-governance system.

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

          __________________________________________________
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          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • sreenathan.ansi
          The voice of the Nicobarese needs to be respected. It is not a matter of plea from their end. It cannot be treated as plea. They are bestowed with the right of
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 2, 2007
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            The voice of the Nicobarese needs to be respected. It is not a matter
            of plea from their end. It cannot be treated as plea. They are bestowed
            with the right of occupancy and use of the land. They have every right
            to say "no' to the intruders. Perception of the people is important as
            their wisdom sits thetre.It doesn't mean that the Government do no have
            any role in Nicobar context. But the role cannot be arbitarily decided
            and executed in the name of development. For Dept of forests, forest
            space in the Island is a topographic space of defintion. They live with
            notional rights. but notional right cannot be an alternative to the
            customary right on the land. Let the Nicobarese decides in what area
            they require intervention.Any activity without their demand and
            realisation from any quarters is tresspassing to their
            physical/cultural/ social space. hence it is colonisation and that
            cannot be appreciated. The knowledge on forest and the importance of its
            conservation is much known to them than anybody who understands forest
            as a topographical reality. So, one needs to be followed their
            sensitivity instead of impossing sensibility in arbitary terms.




            --- In andamanicobar@..., manish chandi <manishchandi@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > The press relaease is a serious plea for help in the
            > matters outlined therin. For many years the dept of
            > forests were trying to make inroads into the already
            > 'reserved' forests, that are otherwise categorised as
            > a tribal protected area, in the name of conservation
            > of coastal forest and other regions in the interior.
            > It even had an outpost on Tillanchong island along
            > with a police guard post- both of these suffered the
            > ills of malaria and boredom without adequate
            > infrastructure toward effective protection.Wild boar
            > formed a easy source of protien for these camps. they
            > seem to forget that the nicobarese have traditional
            > rights that have been in vogue for long with certain
            > families/villages (eg from Trinket/pilpillo/kakana in
            > the central group with regard to tillanchong, and
            > Kondul and Pulomilo for islets further north such as
            > Treis Trak and Meroe)regarded as custodians of the
            > plantations and forest. Even though the nicobarese do
            > not hunt and gather, it is pertinent to build on the
            > strengths of traditional mores and effect conservation
            > goals with the islanders rather than isolate them from
            > the process by posting people from the Andamans to
            > look after forests in the Nicobars- which have
            > remained relatively intact all these years due to
            > their form of management.
            > more serious offences have been in the
            > form of the navy usurping and claiming legal
            > entitlement in the aftermath of the tsunami- a slight
            > that can never be righted if a high handed attitude
            > continues- past records(im not sure if they exist now-
            > rashid will be able to throw some light) will show the
            > kind of obeisence that naval forces and other
            > dignitaries in the past have paid to those families in
            > power, catering toward an atmosphere of stewardship in
            > co-managing the islands with the indigenous groups. it
            > is increasingly being seen that post tsunami,
            > administrative officers, NGO's and dignitaries are
            > using the aftermath to carry out agendas of
            > transforming centres of indigenous administration
            > toward the inappropriate models of corruption and
            > bureaucracy conducive to their growth rather than the
            > intended beneficiaries that plagues the rest of the
            > country. the nicobars can do very well without such
            > interference and can teach more than a lesson or two
            > toward island ecology and management of disasters
            > within their forms of social organisation.
            >
            > --- Madhu Sarin msarin@... wrote:
            >
            > > I wonder if the recently passed forest rights act
            > > could support the Tribal Council of Nancowrie and
            > > the Nicobarese in their struggle. Could someone pass
            > > on a copy of the Act to them? Reservation of
            > > customary Nicobarese ancestral lands as state
            > > forests is in direct opposition to the Act's primary
            > > objective of recognising tribal rights. To begin
            > > with, a copy of the Act should be shown to the
            > > forest department and the islands' Administration.
            > > If that doesn't work, maybe a legal challenge could
            > > be considered? I think Pankaj has a copy of the Act
            > > - if not, I can send a verified soft copy (although
            > > I don't think it has yet been signed by the
            > > President but that should get done as a matter of
            > > course soon).
            > > Madhu
            > > ----- Original Message -----
            > > From: Pankaj
            > > To: andamanicobar@...
            > > Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2006 3:43 PM
            > > Subject: [andamanicobar] Press Release on 2nd
            > > Anniversary of the Tsunami by the Tribal Council of
            > > Nancowrie
            > >
            > >
            > > PRESS RELEASE
            > > on the occasion of the 2nd Anniversary of the
            > > Tsunami, 26th December 2006
            > >
            > > by
            > > Tribal Council of Nancowrie, Central Nicobar
            > > Islands
            > > Email: tribalcouncil.nancowrie@...
            > > Tel: 09434284444
            > >
            > > Two years after the tsunami, it is still a long
            > > way to go for the
            > > Nicobarese, indigenous inhabitants of the Nicobar
            > > archipelago in the Bay of
            > > Bengal. Even as we have grappled with tremendous
            > > losses directly caused by
            > > the tsunami - of lives, of materials, our means of
            > > subsistence and way of
            > > life and culture - the post-tsunami period has
            > > only brought added misery. In
            > > part this is due to internal conflict and a sudden
            > > change in lifestyle. But
            > > it is also due to fresh threats to our very
            > > existence due to certain moves
            > > made by various agencies of the government and
            > > non-government organizations.
            > > Despite the rehabilitation measures initiated by
            > > the administration
            > > (government) - for which we remain grateful - we
            > > continue to live in an
            > > atmosphere of great fear and uncertainty over our
            > > future. For us, the
            > > present situation is marked by the following:
            > >
            > > Threat from the Forest Department: Through a
            > > recent proclamation of the
            > > Forest Settlement Officer it has been announced
            > > that the entire land area of
            > > our islands excluding the village area, is being
            > > constituted as Reserved
            > > Forest under the ownership of the Forest
            > > Department. This means that the
            > > Nicobarese will henceforth be treated as
            > > trespassers in their own forests
            > > and punished for the same. This development is a
            > > deathblow for us. We have
            > > lived on these islands for centuries together. All
            > > land has been divided
            > > amongst ourselves by our forefathers and the
            > > demarcations made by them are
            > > observed by us to this day. As a primarily
            > > hunting-gathering tribe we depend
            > > upon the forest for our very sustenance. We attach
            > > great cultural and
            > > economic significance to them and it is impossible
            > > for us to live in
            > > separation for them. We love our forests and care
            > > for them - their very
            > > existence over the centuries is testimony to this
            > > fact. On the contrary, the
            > > damage inflicted to our forests has begun only
            > > after the Forest Department
            > > established its presence in our islands. It is
            > > therefore, not acceptable to
            > > us in the least that our forests should be
            > > declared Reserve Forests.
            > >
            > > Occupation and Encroachment upon Tribal Land: For
            > > many years now, we have
            > > time and again raised the matter of our lands
            > > being encroached upon by
            > > non-tribals running variety of trade illegally,
            > > whose very presence in our
            > > islands is illegal according to the Andaman &
            > > Nicobar (Protection of
            > > Aboriginal Tribes) Regulations, 1956. After the
            > > tsunami, this situation has
            > > been compounded by some departments of the
            > > administration who are occupying
            > > tribal land without permission for constructing
            > > their offices. Further
            > > adding to our agony, INS Kardip, the naval base on
            > > Kamorta Island, is
            > > objecting to the construction of permanent
            > > shelters in several villages
            > > claiming these sites to be under its ownership.
            > > Work in these villages has
            > > come to a standstill and the people continue to
            > > languish in temporary
            > > shelters on the verge of collapse. It is
            > > impossible for the figure to be
            > > 208 acres since there are large villages outside
            > > this extent and these have
            > > been in existence for at least a few hundred
            > > years. Unfortunately, all our
            > > records have been washed away by the tsunami and
            > > we are unable to provide
            > > documentary evidence from our end. However, our
            > > predicament is not being
            > > understood. Consequently, the Nicobarese people
            > > are under siege from all
            > > sides and we do not know where to look.
            > >
            > > Location of Permanent Shelters: Even as the
            > > construction of permanent
            > > shelters is going on slowly, fresh difficulties
            > > are arising for us and
            > > causing further delay. Despite assurances from
            > > senior government officers as
            > > well as the Hon'ble Lieutenant Governor that our
            > > requirements will be
            > > honoured, the building contractor and the Central
            > > Public Works Department
            > > (CPWD), the government agency responsible for
            > > permanent housing, want to
            > > construct the permanent shelters very close to
            > > each other to suit their own
            > > convenience. This condition is too difficult for
            > > us to accept. The location
            > > and layout of the village and of the houses are
            > > central to the Nicobarese
            > > way of life. The space around our houses is
            > > essential for carrying out
            > > traditional rituals and ceremonies; for
            > > maintaining livestock as well as
            > > small plantations of fruit trees. Our life style
            > > is different from that of
            > > mainlanders and we very much hope that the
            > > administration can appreciate and
            > > respect this difference as it has been doing
            > > before.
            > >
            > > Boats: Boats are the very lifeline of our island
            > > existence but are yet to be
            > > distributed to all the deserving families. In
            > > their absence, these families
            > > are unable to develop a source of livelihood.
            > > Further, 18 boats given by an
            > > NGO which were in community use across the islands
            > > have all broken down
            > > since they were made of fibre-glass. These need to
            > > be replaced with wooden
            > > boats.
            > >
            > > Insensitivity of local administrative officer: The
            > > Nicobarese are suffering
            > > at the hands of of Shri.S.C.Tyagi, the Assistant
            > > Commissioner, Nancowrie,
            > > senior-most administrative officer in these
            > > islands. He is authoritarian and
            > > high-handed, and does not seem to believe in the
            > > participation of the
            > > Nicobarese people in decision-making. He is also
            > > highly insensitive to our
            > > traditional ways of life. His continued presence
            > > in office is highly
            > > detrimental to the ongoing process of
            > > rehabilitation.
            > >
            > > Impact of Aid Agencies: We are thankful to the
            > > various aid agencies/NGOs
            > > that came forward to help us soon after the
            > > tsunami. Yet we feel that their
            > > overall impact has not been a positive one. First,
            > > some NGOs tend to operate
            > > with a lack of transparency. For example, we came
            > > to know that an NGO called
            > > Butterflies was carrying out activities in our
            > > island without the knowledge
            > > of the Tribal Council. Second, NGOs sometimes seek
            > > only token participation
            > > of the village captains/Tribal Council to lend
            > > legitimacy to their own
            > > agenda, which often do not address our real
            > > requirements. Third, many of the
            > > training programmes being carried out are
            > > meaningless
            > === message truncated ===
            >
            >
            > __________________________________________________
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          • Sharbendu De
            Dear Vivek, Thanks for your understanding. Let us be united while standing for the rights of the tribal communities, be it in ANI or any other place. With best
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 4, 2007
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              Dear Vivek,

              Thanks for your understanding. Let us be united while standing for the rights of the tribal communities, be it in ANI or any other place.

              With best wishes for the New Year!

              Sharbendu De
              Programme Manager
              Butterflies


              ----- Original Message ----
              From: V.Vivekanandan <vivek@...>
              To: andamanicobar@...
              Sent: Wednesday, January 3, 2007 7:47:14 AM
              Subject: Re: [andamanicobar] Press Release on 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami by the Tribal Council of Nancowrie

              Dear Sharbendu,

              I realise that I have made a comment about Butterflies based on a quick reading of the tribal council's statement. I had just assumed, unfairly I realise, that the Tribal council singling out Butterflies in their statement meant that they had some serious problems with the activities of Butterflies in their island. I apologise for this lapse on my part. I have no previous knowledge of Butterflies and should not have made such a comment.

              Regards,

              Vivek

              V.Vivekanandan
              Chief Executive
              South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies
              Karamana
              Trivandrum 695 002

              Ph: +91-471-2343711, 2343178
              Res: +91-471-2501018
              Mobile: +91-9847084840

              E-mail: vivek@siffs. org

              ----- Original Message -----
              From: Sharbendu De
              To: vivek@siffs. org
              Cc: andamanicobar@ yahoogroups. co.in ; Rita Panicker ; Gerry Pinto
              Sent: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 2:27 PM
              Subject: Re: [andamanicobar] Press Release on 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami by the Tribal Council of Nancowrie

              Dear Mr. Vivek,

              We do observe that you have alleged Butterflies of doing 'harm to the cause' of the tribal people in Nancowrie, in your public statement given in this forum.

              What the tribal council had said is that they were unaware of Butterflies presence in Nancowrie. We have already responded to that.

              If you read very carefully, they have made no allegations on us about 'doing harm'. It is very senstive of the tribal council who haven't gone into defaming someone's reputation, but expressed concern and we very much respect that.

              However, your allegation places matters on a very different and rather uncomfortable note. May I request you to kindly substantiate your allegation with appropriate evidences.

              It would be interesting to hear of your credentials with respect to the understanding of A&N Islands and it's tribal cultures.

              With regards
              Sharbendu De
              Programme Manager
              Butterflies

              ----- Original Message ----
              From: V.Vivekanandan <vivek@siffs. org>
              To: andamanicobar@ yahoogroups. co.in
              Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2006 10:14:31 PM
              Subject: Re: [andamanicobar] Press Release on 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami by the Tribal Council of Nancowrie

              Dear friends,

              This is an amazing statement coming from the tribal council very clearly listing out the issues and taking clear stand on many issues. The issues like the forest department take over of the forests and the location of permanent shelters are very serious indeed. While good deeds by Govt and NGOs have been properly acknowledged, the tribal council is also straight forward in denouncing what is thinks are wrong and has not shied away from naming individuals (e.g. S.C.Thyagi) and organisations (e.g. Butterflies) who are doing harm to their cause. We need to express our solidarity with the tribal council on these issues and see how we can take up the issues on the mainland.

              Regards,

              Vivek

              V.Vivekanandan
              Chief Executive
              South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies
              Karamana
              Trivandrum 695 002

              Ph: +91-471-2343711, 2343178
              Res: +91-471-2501018
              Mobile: +91-9847084840

              E-mail: vivek@siffs. org

              ----- Original Message -----
              From: Pankaj
              To: andamanicobar@ yahoogroups. co.in
              Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2006 3:43 PM
              Subject: [andamanicobar] Press Release on 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami by the Tribal Council of Nancowrie

              PRESS RELEASE
              on the occasion of the 2nd Anniversary of the Tsunami, 26th December 2006

              by
              Tribal Council of Nancowrie, Central Nicobar Islands
              Email: tribalcouncil. nancowrie@ gmail.com
              Tel: 09434284444

              Two years after the tsunami, it is still a long way to go for the
              Nicobarese, indigenous inhabitants of the Nicobar archipelago in the Bay of
              Bengal. Even as we have grappled with tremendous losses directly caused by
              the tsunami - of lives, of materials, our means of subsistence and way of
              life and culture - the post-tsunami period has only brought added misery. In
              part this is due to internal conflict and a sudden change in lifestyle. But
              it is also due to fresh threats to our very existence due to certain moves
              made by various agencies of the government and non-government organizations.
              Despite the rehabilitation measures initiated by the administration
              (government) - for which we remain grateful - we continue to live in an
              atmosphere of great fear and uncertainty over our future. For us, the
              present situation is marked by the following:

              Threat from the Forest Department: Through a recent proclamation of the
              Forest Settlement Officer it has been announced that the entire land area of
              our islands excluding the village area, is being constituted as Reserved
              Forest under the ownership of the Forest Department. This means that the
              Nicobarese will henceforth be treated as trespassers in their own forests
              and punished for the same. This development is a deathblow for us. We have
              lived on these islands for centuries together. All land has been divided
              amongst ourselves by our forefathers and the demarcations made by them are
              observed by us to this day. As a primarily hunting-gathering tribe we depend
              upon the forest for our very sustenance. We attach great cultural and
              economic significance to them and it is impossible for us to live in
              separation for them. We love our forests and care for them - their very
              existence over the centuries is testimony to this fact. On the contrary, the
              damage inflicted to our forests has begun only after the Forest Department
              established its presence in our islands. It is therefore, not acceptable to
              us in the least that our forests should be declared Reserve Forests.

              Occupation and Encroachment upon Tribal Land: For many years now, we have
              time and again raised the matter of our lands being encroached upon by
              non-tribals running variety of trade illegally, whose very presence in our
              islands is illegal according to the Andaman & Nicobar (Protection of
              Aboriginal Tribes) Regulations, 1956. After the tsunami, this situation has
              been compounded by some departments of the administration who are occupying
              tribal land without permission for constructing their offices. Further
              adding to our agony, INS Kardip, the naval base on Kamorta Island, is
              objecting to the construction of permanent shelters in several villages
              claiming these sites to be under its ownership. Work in these villages has
              come to a standstill and the people continue to languish in temporary
              shelters on the verge of collapse. It is impossible for the figure to be
              208 acres since there are large villages outside this extent and these have
              been in existence for at least a few hundred years. Unfortunately, all our
              records have been washed away by the tsunami and we are unable to provide
              documentary evidence from our end. However, our predicament is not being
              understood. Consequently, the Nicobarese people are under siege from all
              sides and we do not know where to look.

              Location of Permanent Shelters: Even as the construction of permanent
              shelters is going on slowly, fresh difficulties are arising for us and
              causing further delay. Despite assurances from senior government officers as
              well as the Hon'ble Lieutenant Governor that our requirements will be
              honoured, the building contractor and the Central Public Works Department
              (CPWD), the government agency responsible for permanent housing, want to
              construct the permanent shelters very close to each other to suit their own
              convenience. This condition is too difficult for us to accept. The location
              and layout of the village and of the houses are central to the Nicobarese
              way of life. The space around our houses is essential for carrying out
              traditional rituals and ceremonies; for maintaining livestock as well as
              small plantations of fruit trees. Our life style is different from that of
              mainlanders and we very much hope that the administration can appreciate and
              respect this difference as it has been doing before.

              Boats: Boats are the very lifeline of our island existence but are yet to be
              distributed to all the deserving families. In their absence, these families
              are unable to develop a source of livelihood. Further, 18 boats given by an
              NGO which were in community use across the islands have all broken down
              since they were made of fibre-glass. These need to be replaced with wooden
              boats.

              Insensitivity of local administrative officer: The Nicobarese are suffering
              at the hands of of Shri.S.C.Tyagi, the Assistant Commissioner, Nancowrie,
              senior-most administrative officer in these islands. He is authoritarian and
              high-handed, and does not seem to believe in the participation of the
              Nicobarese people in decision-making. He is also highly insensitive to our
              traditional ways of life. His continued presence in office is highly
              detrimental to the ongoing process of rehabilitation.

              Impact of Aid Agencies: We are thankful to the various aid agencies/NGOs
              that came forward to help us soon after the tsunami. Yet we feel that their
              overall impact has not been a positive one. First, some NGOs tend to operate
              with a lack of transparency. For example, we came to know that an NGO called
              Butterflies was carrying out activities in our island without the knowledge
              of the Tribal Council. Second, NGOs sometimes seek only token participation
              of the village captains/Tribal Council to lend legitimacy to their own
              agenda, which often do not address our real requirements. Third, many of the
              training programmes being carried out are meaningless for us. They seem to
              be theoretical and literature-based, and are beyond comprehension for the
              average Nicobarese.

              Death Certificates not issued in the name of Missing Persons: Death
              certificates have not been issued in the name of the persons whose bodies
              were not recovered after the tsunami. As a result, the local bank is unable
              to transfer the money lying in their accounts to the next of kin. Since most
              deaths in the tsunami fall in this category (of missing persons) great
              hardship is being caused to the heirs of missing persons.

              Waiver of old loans and disbursal of new ones: Despite an assurance from the
              administration that the outstanding amount on loans taken pre-tsunami by the
              Nicobarese would be waived, directions are yet to be received by the banks
              concerned.

              Meanwhile, candidates identified by the Department of Industries for award
              of loans for self-employment activities are still waiting for their loan
              amounts. There are now more people who have undergone training by NGOs or
              the Administration. They require loans to make use of their recently
              acquired skills to earn a livelihood.

              THE WAY FORWARD

              Our vision of development is one in which economic well-being is nurtured
              along with our social and cultural integrity. Some of our ideas in this
              direction are as follows:

              Economic Development: The Nicobarese wish to promote economic development
              through the cooperative structure. This will reduce exploitation of the
              Nicobarese by outsiders and will ensure an equitable distribution of
              resources and opportunities. For this purpose, funds (including grant-in-aid
              towards infrastructure and working capital) are requested to be sanctioned
              to a pre-existing primary cooperative society to strengthen its activities.

              Social and cultural integrity: Despite legal restrictions, immigrant traders
              have illegally established themselves in several parts of the Nicobar
              Islands and engage in an unequal exchange with the Nicobarese leading to
              their exploitation. Many Nicobarese are presently under their debt and
              nearly all money received as compensation after tsunami has ended up in
              their hands. These immigrant traders are not only an economic threat but
              challenge the social and cultural integrity of the Nicobarese. The
              Nicobarese request their removal from the islands.

              Improvement of infrastructure and services: Educational and health services
              need to be given a major boost. The quality of education is currently very
              poor; apart from addressing this, elements of Nicobarese history, culture
              and craft need to be made part of the educational curriculum. Health
              services are extremely inadequate; the way to improve them is to establish
              good communications and transport infrastructure, apart from upgrading
              existing medical facilities and establishing medical facilities where they
              are currently non-existent. Inter-island transport and communication is
              currently a severe problem and is one of the biggest handicaps in the
              development of our islands.

              Motivating government staff: Due to the poor infrastructure and services in
              the islands, most government staff are always in a hurry to get posted back
              to Port Blair/Andaman District. Further, they look down upon us and
              contribute very much to the average Nicobarese's lack of self-esteem.
              Government servants need to be sensitized to our way of life and motivated
              to serve in our islands.

              Right to land and self-governance: All of the land (unless surrendered for
              various purposes) traditionally belong to the Nicobarese families. Every
              area, inhabited or uninhabited has an owner. We request that our right to
              their land is respected and protected. Furthermore, we have their own system
              of governance based on elections. Therefore, we desire very much that our
              Tribal Councils be recognised as a legal entity and the islands be brought
              under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to strengthen our traditional
              rights and self-governance system.

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