Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination (Topic: COVID-19 and Great Andamanese Tribe)

Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination

Current Affairs Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination

Topic: COVID-19 and Great Andamanese Tribe

COVID-19 and Great Andamanese Tribe

Why in News?

  • Nine members of the dwindling Great Andamanese tribe have tested COVID-19 positive, setting off alarm bells in the Union Territory. While the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have so far recorded 2,985 novel coronavirus cases, 676 of which were active by early September, it is for the first time that cases are reported from among the five Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) living in the islands.

Andamans and PVTGS

  • The Great Andamanese speak Jeru dialect among themselves and their number stands at 51 as per the last study carried out by Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti in 2012.
  • The five PVTGS residing in Andamans are Great Andamanese, Jarwas, Onges, Shompens and North Sentinelese.
  • Among the five, the Great Andamanese are the only ones who visit and live in the capital city of Port Blair frequently. The PVTGs are communities that are more vulnerable among tribal groups, and are put under a special category by the government of India.
  • While five among the nine Great Andamanese who are infected are residents of Port Blair, four others live in the remote Strait Island that is reserved for the tribe.

Great Andamanese: History

  • Anthropologists classify the Great Andamanese as part of the Negrito tribes that inhabit isolated parts of Southeast Asia and the Andaman Islands.
  • Recent studies by geneticists indicate that the Andamanese are possibly related to the Negritos of the Malay peninsula and in the Philippines.
  • Originally, the Great Andamanese were ten distinct tribes, including the Jeru, Bea, Bo, Khora, and Pockiwar, each with its own separate language.
  • In 1788, when the British first tried to colonise the islands, the Great Andamanese numbered between 5,000 and 8,000.
  • Several members of the tribe were killed in encounters with the British to protect their territories.
  • Later, many were wiped out in epidemics brought in by the colonisers, such as measles, syphilis and influenza.
  • In the 1860s, the British established an ‘Andaman Home’ where they kept captured Great Andamanese. Hundreds of the tribe died from the disease and abuse in the home, and of 150 babies born there, none survived beyond the age of two.
  • The language of the Great Andamanese, Sare, has largely been lost, with the last surviving speaker dying earlier this year. The tribe now speaks mostly Hindi.


  • 75 tribal groups have been categorized by Ministry of Home Affairs as PVTGs. PVTGs reside in 18 States and UTs of A&N Islands.
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs implements the Scheme of “Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)” exclusively for them.
  • Under the scheme, Conservation-cum-Development (CCD)/Annual Plans are to be prepared by each State/UT for their PVTGs based on their need assessment, which are then appraised and approved by the Project Appraisal Committee of the Ministry.
  • Activities for development of PVTGs are undertaken in Sectors of Education, Health, Livelihood and Skill Development, Agricultural Development, Housing & Habitat, Conservation of Culture etc