New Delhi: The government on Friday said steps will be initiated to discuss inclusion of Jarawa tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the mainstream rather than leave them in "beastly condition" in the wake of a video footage showing semi-naked tribal women dancing before tourists.

According to Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo, the tribe needs to enjoy benefits of development but a discussion is needed with several groups, including Jarawas, to arrive at a conclusion to bring them into the mainstream.

"As far as my personal view is concerned, it would be totally unfair to leave them (Jarawas) in a beastly condition forever. At the same time I am certainly not the one who would like to expose them to mall and junk culture," he said.

Stressing that the process cannot be done in haste, he said, "They also have to enjoy benefits of development, but it has to be a gradual and slow process. I think there has to be a consensus on this after discussions with different groups. I hope we have to start a dialogue on this issue."

Replying to a question on progress in the inquiry which was ordered by the Home Ministry following alleged exploitation of Jarawa tribals who were forced to dance before tourists in return for food, Deo said the matter is being pursued and they are trying to identify the videographer.

"The Home Ministry is pursuing the matter. They are trying to locate the person who had videographed the particular scene," he said, adding that the video has been sent for technical evaluation.

Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) of Andaman & Nicobar Islands are personally monitoring the matter and once we apprehend the person, stringent action will be taken, he added.

Terming the incident disgraceful, Deo said, "Irrespective of the fact when it happened - yesterday or 10 years back – it is something which should not have happened. It is disgraceful and a shame on all of us."
On whether his ministry is planning to issue directives to ensure such incident do not recur elsewhere, he said, "If there is something specific, then I will certainly issue orders."

To a question on keeping these tribes in isolation, he said, "This is an ethical and moral question. There are two extreme views on this. One section of people believe they should be left in isolation, another point of view is that they should be completely modernised."

Stressing that Jarawas have a tradition, the minister said there are many youngsters who have started to speak Hindi and they everything must be explained to them to ascertain their view.

"Are they in a position today to decide for themselves which route they should take? They will also have to be told about, they have to be educated about both sides on this matter. On their own they may not be able (to decide), many of them are not educated," he said.

On closing the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR), which passes through the protected zone inhabited by Jarawas, he said the practical aspect of the option needs to be weighed before taking any decision.

"As far as ATR in concerned, it is the lifeline for the island. Those who advocate closing it, they say sea-route would be better. For that you have to use helicopters. But how practical these things are, also has to be seen," he said, adding that he will visit Andamans sometime in February or
March.

(Agencies)