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Sentinelese Tribe:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.


Sentinelese Tribe:


What to study?

  • For Prelims: Who are Sentinelese? Geographical location of North Sentinel Island.
  • For Mains: Why are they vulnerable, what needs to be done and how recent moves by the government is affecting their fundamental and moral rights?


Context: The Government has promulgated various laws/regulations from time to time to ensure that the rights and well-being of the Sentinelese are safeguarded.


Steps taken to ensure the protection of Sentinelese:

  1. The entire North Sentinel Island along with 5 km coastal sea from high water mark is notified as tribal reserve.
  2. The Government respects their way of life style, therefore, has adopted an ‘eyes-on and hands-off’ practice to protect and safeguard the Sentinelese tribe.
  3. A protocol of circumnavigation of the North Sentinel Island has been notified. The ships and aircrafts of Coast Guard and boats of Marine Police make sorties around North Sentinel to keep surveillance.


They have been protected under:

  1. A &N Islands (PAT) Regulation 1956.
  2. Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
  3. Restrictions under Foreigner (Restricted Area) Orders, 1963.
  4. Visa Manual Conditions/Passport Act 1920, Indian Forest Act, 1927 and Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.


Who are the Sentinelese?

The Sentinelese are a negrito tribe who live on the North Sentinel Island of the Andamans. The inhabitants are connected to the Jarawa on the basis of physical, as well as linguistic similarities. Their numbers are believed to be less than 150 and as low as 40.

Based on carbon dating of kitchen middens by the Anthropological Survey of India, Sentinelese presence was confirmed in the islands to 2,000 years ago. Genome studies indicate that the Andaman tribes could have been on the islands even 30,000 years ago.


Why are they said to be vulnerable?

  • It is said they have made little to no advancement in the over 60,000 years and still live very primitive lives, surviving mainly on fish and coconuts.
  • They are very vulnerable to germs since they have not had contact with the outside world. Even a common flu virus carried by a visitor could wipe out the entire tribe.
  • Since the 1960s, there have been a handful of efforts to reach out to the tribe but all have largely failed. They have repeatedly, aggressively made it clear that they want to be isolated.



Currently, there is a one-size-fits-all policy. For instance, the Sentinelese should be left alone. The rights and the desires of the Sentinelese need to be respected and nothing is to be achieved by escalating the conflict and tension.