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Regional Centre – Andaman Niccobar

Anthropological Survey of India

Andaman and Nicobar regional Centre

Port Blair

About Anthropological Survey of India

The Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre of Anthropological Survey of India was established in 1951 with the initial small office at Cellular jail at Port Blair. The Anthropological Survey of India rose to every occasion to contribute its might, through its mandate of pursuing research in socio-cultural and biological aspects of the people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in a holistic perspective, with an emphasis on the matters of contemporary relevance and national significance. In this and many other tasks, Anthropological Survey of India proved its mettle to the appreciation of all. The Anthropological Survey of India’s contribution for understanding the people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands by its coverage of the entire length and breadth of the islands is commendable. The Anthropological Survey of India kept itself abreast of the new challenges facing the humanity and tuned itself to reap the benefits of the emerging technologies all over, for the benefit of human kind.

 Zonal Anthropological Museum

Zonal Anthropological Museum (ZAM) of Anthropological Survey of India, Port Blair is one of the prominent attraction of tourists and visitors of the islands. Having outstanding display on life and culture of people of Andaman and Nicobar islands, this eminent ethnographic museum attracts thousands of visitors every month.

Library

With the collection of more than 5000 books and journals of national and international repute on Anthropology and related disciplines, it is a paradise of the serious readers having interest on life and culture of people of India.

 Office Address

Anthropological Survey of India
Government of India
Ministry of Culture
Andaman & Nicobar Regional Centre
Port Blair-744101
Phone No: 232563, 232291

Photo of Head of Office

Dr. M. Sasikumar, Deputy Director (Cultural) &Head of Office

 Details Scientific  Staffs

Sl. No

Name

Designation

1.

Dr. M. Sasikumar

Deputy Director & Head of Office

2.

Shri. R. Haider

Assistant Anthropologist (Cultural)

3.

Dr. B.V. Ravi Prasad

Assistant Anthropologist (Physical)

4.

Shri. Samir Biswas

Research Associate (Ecology)

5.

Dr. Piyusa Ranjan Sahoo

Research Associate (Cultural)

6.

Shri. Amit Kumar Ghosh

Research Associate (Cultural)

7.

Shri. Siddhartha Shit

Research Associate (Cultural)

8.

Dr. Shiv Kumar Patel

Research Associate (Physical)

9.

Dr. MopadaNaniBabu

Research Associate (Physical)

Ongoing Research Projects

12th Five Year Plan Project “Bio-Cultural Diversity, Environment and Sustainable Development”. Village study of Chowra, Central Nicobar

In connection with the 12th five year National Plan Project entitled “Bio-Cultural Diversity, Environment and Sustainable Development” (Village Study), under the supervision of Dr. M. Sasikumar, (Director) the team comprising with three research personnel Shri Samir Biswas, Dr. Piyusa Ranjan Sahoo  and Dr. Shiv Kumar Patel  of An.S.I, Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre, Port Blair have been studying the Chowra Island of Central Nicobar. Chowra is a small Island which falls under the Central Nicobar Group of Islands having 8.2 sq. Km. It is the most inaccessible island among all Andaman and Nicobar group of Islands. The population of this Island is 1486 and comprising 366 numbers of house hold distributed among 5 villages such as Taeela, Alheat, Chongkamong, Kuitasuk and Raiheon, The traditional village pattern is drastically changed after the tsunami of 2004. Still some round shaped hut (Hubul) are representing the uniqueness architecture of this Island. The communication to Chowra Island is very difficult still today. Only two types of dependable communication services are available at Chowra. One is Inter Island Hellycopter service and another one is inter island Ship/Speed boat. But at time of bad weather the communication is much affected. The common people of Chowra cannot afford the Helicopter service due to its fare and maximum time they depends on ship/speed boat services. Sometimes this two life lines remain stopped for a few days till the normal weather condition returns. At this juncture people suffers a lot. Another notable problem is that the Ship or Speed boats are not touching the Chowra Island because of its inhospitable shores. Due to the lack of Jetty generally the ships are anchoring in the sea little far from the Chowra shore, and people generally go by small boats/ dinghy to board on the ship. This creates so many difficulties for the people of Chowra and also the officials who come over here for different purpose and especially for the children, old men, old women and the people in ill health.  The first person of Chowra was converted as a Christian in the year 1951 by Bishop Richardson of Car Nicobar Island though Christianity was entered to this Car Nicobar of Nicobar Islands in the year 1896. Now all the people of this Island are Christian and celebrating all the fair and festival of Christianity but the interesting is, still all the people of this Island has been continuing their age old religious and cultural events such Pig festival(Pannuha note), Canoe race (Konpeun-o), Burning of Grassland (Sonoho), Chicken festival (Ittore-pung-kalav) etc. in their own calendarical year. Previously Chowra is well known for its practice of spirit. People have still believe on black magic and sprit. The economy of the Chouraites mostly depends on agriculture, sea resource and live stocks. Agriculture includes different types of wild potatoes, bananas, sugar cain, Brinjal, Chilli etc. Cultivation of paddy and Wheat are absent whereas coconut form is main source of income. Secondly sea resources include different type of fishes, octopus and crabs etc. Whereas some sea animals are forbidden as a food. For the fishing maximum people use wood made canoe and some use motor dinghy. Some birds also used as a food. Live-stock includes maximum Hens, cocks, pigs and less quantity of goats and ducks. They use it as a food supplement where as hens, cocks, pigs are used both religious and food purpose. Coconut plantation, Kitchen garden farming, land distribution, fishing, canoe, different types of live stocks are very important to their life. Though previously mud put of chowra played a greater role in all Nicobar groups of Islands and enriched the economy of this Island but presently after tsunami it has a great change and making of mud put is suddenly disappeared from this Island due to different reasons which causes economically loss to the Islanders. As far health is concerned, a Primary health sub centre is there at chowra to facilitate the people. One male health worker and one Nurse is appointed there. Besides it there are five ASHA workers are working in five villages. There is no doctor at chowra. The doctor from nearby island Teresa is visited once in a month to this island. Though there is a demand of the people for a permanent doctor but still it is not filled up. filarial and malaria are the two fatal diseases of the island. In filarial there are 22 persons affected which record shows. In serious cases people are being referred to teressa, Car Nicobar or Port Blair. In these few days we were unable to observe the practice of ethno-medicines among the people but from the information gathered, it is accepted that in some cases like child delivery, fever, cold, skin disease and bone fracture etc. the ethno-medicine is practiced. Government Secondary School situated at koitasuk of Chowra is only life line to obtain education from class I to class IX. Beside it there are 2 Anganwadi Centres situated at Chowra. This year 1th April class X is added by the education department of Andaman administration. There are total 10 teachers and 159 students in the school. It is observed that there are some students those who have wind up their education after competition class 9th because class 10th was not exist up to the year 2013 in the school. After the competition of 5th and class 9th some students are sent to Car Nicobar for further study. Even after competition of class 12th those families are economically little strong they send their children to Mayabunder and Port Blair for higher study and maximum can’t go for further study due to poor economical background.            

Besides these, there are some problems existing in this Island. The main problem is the lack of drinking water. There are no drinking water sources available in the Island. People are harvesting rain water and storing it for further use. In the summer season when the storing water is finished the people take the help of the people of Teresa island and bring drinking water from their by canoe and motor dinghy. The Second notable problem is that the lack of jetty at chowra Island. Ships or Speed boats are not touching the Chowra Island because of its in hospitable shores and lack of jetty. The ships are anchoring in the sea little far from the Chowra shore, and people generally go by small boats/ dinghy to board on the ship. This creates so many difficulties for the people of Chowra and also the officials who come over here for different purpose and especially for the children, old men, old women and the people in ill health. Third problem is the telephonic communication problem. There is no transmission tower for telephonic communication within inter island and intra island. People are facing lot of problems to communicate at the time of need. The Indian Postal Service is the only life line for the letter communication which is time consumable and it depends on the Hellicopter service availability. At the time of bad weather the service is totally disconnected. Besides these, people of Chowra are facing some difficulties pertain to their health, education, Electricity, Agriculture etc.

  • ‘An Ethnographic study of Shompen’ under the Regional Research Project.

The Shompen of Great Nicobar Island is one of the least studied and little known tribal community in the world. They are also one of the vanishing Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in India. This shy and very little known tribe resides in dense tropical rain forest of Great Nicobar Island of Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. The Shompen habitat is also an important biological hotspot and it comes under two National Parks and one Biosphere Reserve namely Campbell Bay National Park, Galatea National Park and together it comprises Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve. The exact population of Shompen is unknown till today. Primarily they are semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer and also practice a bit of horticulture, pig raring and fishing in a rudimentary form in the dense tropical rain forest of the Great Nicobar. Though few sporadic studies on some selected groups of Shompen are available, the ethnographic information on Shompen is till scanty. Much of our understanding of the community is based on the narratives of the Great Nicobarese tribe, their immediate neighbour. The sporadic reports by early travellers, academics and the imaginary stories as told by local people, based on hearsays, who have settled in this island during different periods of last century.  Altogether our understanding about the Shompen is still scarce and more scientific research is required for better understanding about the community for sustainable implementation of different developmental policies. The recently issued Andaman and Nicobar Islands Shompen Policy, 2015 admits this very fact and reasserts “the need to address various gaps in our understanding of this somewhat less known community”.

Under the Regional Project ‘An Ethnographic Study of Shompen’, a team of research personnel of Anthropological Survey of India, Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre, Port Blair already completed 15 days reconnoitre tour in May, 2014 and 40 days of main phase of  fieldwork in March-April, 2015 among the Shompen of Great Nicobar Islands. Under the Supervision of Dr. M. Sasikumar, Deputy Director (C), the team was comprised of  Mr. Amit Kumar Ghosh R.A (C) (Team Leader), Shri Siddhartha Shit R.A (C) and Dr. Mopada Nani Babu R.A (P). The main objective of the study was to prepare the first authentic demographic data base of Shompen along with their photographs, to reveal different emic views of Shompen regarding their socio-cultural milieu, world view, attitudes towards developmental initiatives, health conditions, and reaction towards outside world and other different contemporary emergent issues and realities. None of the Shompen areas are communicated by any kind of public transport, the only way to approach Shompen areas are either by trekking through dense tropical forest for minimum distance of 10 k.m. or more and by hiring mechanized boat/ engine dinghy for approaching towards the sea.

 Of the most significant findings of the study is that contrary to the earlier belief that Shompens are a homogeneous tribe,  it was found that  the group is  heterogeneous with even differences in dialect.  During the study the researches came across at least 78 members of the PVTGs and collected their photographs.   Interestingly, different groups have developed different levels of symbiotic relationship, particularly a barter system with the Great Nicobarese who are coastal dwellers and categorized as a Scheduled Tribes and other settler communities who were settled in the island during different periods of last century.

In Great Nicobarese dialect, flowing are names of seven different territorial groups of Shompen as perceived by them –

  1. Samhap Rakaia or Shompens interiors of 24 km EW Road area
  2. Samhap Ratawe or Shompens interiors of Alexendria river area
  3. Samhap Ragare or Shompens interiors of 37 km EW Road area
  4. Samhap Rawch or Shompens interiors of Kokeon area
  5. Samhap Lagamang or Shompens interiors of Lawful area
  6. Samhap Kochnom or Shompens of Chingen area
  7. Samhap Bhutney or Shompens interiors of 35 km EW Road area

Considering different historical evidences/circumstances and contextual specific situations, the Shompen may broadly be categorised in four geographical groups. Each group is also divided in different sub-groups based on affinity and reciprocity.

BaedFollowing are the Different Groups and Sub-groups of Shompen-

  1. North-Eastern Group
  1. Lawful area sub-group
  2. Jhawnalah area sub-group
  3. Trinket area sub-group
  1. Southern Group
  1. Kokeon area sub-group
  2. Chingen/New Chingen and Southern Galathea river area sub-group
  1. Western Group
  1. Alexendria river area sub-group
  2. Dogmer River area sub-group
  1. Central Group
  1. Interiors of 24 km EW road sub-group
  2. Interiors of 27/28 km EW road sub-group
  3. Interiors of 35 km EW road sub-group
  • Study of Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve under the Plan Project ‘Man and Environment
  • ‘Health Awareness Camp-cum-Cultural Programme’. for “Community Genetics at High Risk Zones for Thalassaemia, Sickle Cell Anemia and G6PD Deficiency” under the project, “Community Genetics & Health: Bio-cultural Adaptation”

 Outreach Programmes

  • Health Awareness Camp-cum-Cultural Programme
  • Inter-Island Tribal Dance Festival
  • Ethnic Food Festival
  • Photographic Exhibitions etc.

Projects Accomplished

  • People of India – The Bengali, the Bhantu, the Brahman,the Burmese, the Coorgy, the Ex- Servicemen,the Great Andamanese, the Jarawa, the Karen, the Local, the Madrasi, the Malayali, the Moplah, the Nicobarese, the Onge, the Rajput, the Ranchi, the Sentinelese, the Shompen, the Telugu, the Valmiki.
  • Tribes in Contemporary India : A case study of Central Nicobarese
  • Agrarian System & Agrarian Laws in Tribal India – The Ranchi of Andamans
  • Nutritional Status of Indian Population
  • Boat Typology
  • Anthropology of place & names & personal names
  • Ecology, Environment and population in India: Onge of Little Andaman
  • Region, Shamanism and mother Goddess Cult. Among the Nicobarese
  • People of India Cultural Diversity: Intangible & Tangible Cultural Heritage (Traditional Knowledge)
  • Transforming Onge : An Anthropological Survey of Aspirations & inhibitions
  • Assessment of impact of Tsunami on the people of Andaman & Nicobar Islands and their rehabilitation through community participation
  • Syncretism in India : Multidisciplinary Approach
  • Cultural Dimension of Tourism
  • DNA-Poly morphism in Indian Population

Achievements

Books published on Andaman and Nicobar islands

  • People of India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • AnSI Andaman and Nicobar Island Tribe series on
  1. The Great Andamanese
  2. The Jarawa
  3. The Onge
  4. The Sentinelese
  5. The Shompen
  6. The Nicobarese
  • The Great Nicobar Islands: A study on Human Ecology
  • Tsunami in South Asia
  • Jarawa Contact: Ours with them, theirs with us
  • The Jarawas: Language and Culture
  • Physical Anthropology of the Nicobarese
  • Tourism in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • A descriptive and Comparative study of Andamanese Language
  • The Study of Port Blair Town
  • The Tribes of Andaman & Nicobar Islands

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