Despite all such burdens they grin

Sure-enough, truth is stranger to nonfiction, notwithstanding the adversity that the Nicobarese are facing day-today, none are raising serious objections or lodge complains as if they are dystopian. Self-contained or in a state of dystopia, altruism is a major humanitarian concern; so why, what & how procrastination etc. are key questions whether thrifts are paid to shareholders in time or not, supply of materials made available, liquid cash available in the village primary co-operative societies, weekly sailing schedules of ships being the main lifeline so on & so forth; leave alone exploring the possibilities of other avenues; either to draw sources of livelihood or multiply existing energy in to enhanced level of technology, because ascending the ladder of cultural evolution is understandably a continuous process, both tangibly & intangibly, material & non-material aspects. Amidst all sorts of misfortune still they contribute to meet the demands of their respective tuhets to hold various calendrical festivals, canoe race, raises donation in kinds & money for Saint Days of various churches, Easter Day (Post-lent period), Christmas, centenaries so on & so forth. Despite all such burdens they grin at their misfortunes. Thus, hassle-free & sustain harmonious peaceful co-existence with other Nicobarese viz. animists, Christians or not, Nicobarese or non-Nicobarese, decision-makers-insiders or outsiders; most are so contented enjoying a greater extent of their leisure totally immersed in a sort of maintaining a perfect tribal autonomy least disturbed & concern in upholding minimum intervention with the District Administration. Abhor maximum intervention with the authorities of District Administration as if they are utopian. Alas! Daily courses of action cannot resume an effect of repose or quiescence. The Nicobarese community’s social scene is sparkling lively whenever celebrate ossuary feast, church festivals etc., but undergoes a deep inertness whenever needs arises for making necessary measurable influence &maximum intervention with the District Administration. Logically, cultural survival of the fittest is the order of the day. It is generally assumed that ‘rational, modern’ human beings think and plan for their futures. High time for the traditional authority structure to be on the qui vive, alert, either for any course of action or uphold maximum intervention at all level adopting altruism approach in broad spectrum internally & externally, officially & non-officially.
Negligible degree of social tension between Christians & Muslims in terms of marriage alliances with the former & latter are being experienced in contemporary situation, however, the mechanism of power structures; both at the lower Village Council & upper (superior) Tribal Council leave no stones unturned in patching social chasm attributed to the ethic of “We feeling” as Nicobarese of same origin, regardless of creeds, complexion is a sort of forceful co-existence without pointing fingers at others, pleased or displeased. Eat foods either cooked by Christians or Muslims; despite the food tabu being maintained by the latter is very surprising aspect. Many a fanatic adheres to conduct halal sanctioned by Islamic law, especially ritually fit for use i.e. halal foods, meats & fish caught either by hook or casting nets or large steins etc. Fanatical views of Muslims are being taken great care so as to maintain contentment at all level. In other words, make them cheerful sensibly to respect their religious sentiments.
Brewing methanol, a light but volatile flammable poisonous liquid alcohol is somewhat mushrooming in the entire Nicobar Archipelago, occurring justly under the nose of the District Administration. Kudos to all effort to nip it in the bud; had conducted awareness programmes at village level, made periodical investigations, caught red-handed & apprehended some individuals who are making it as their secondary occupation eking out benefits. Lenient view attributed to being Scheduled Area is a major stumbling-block for the District Administration to deal with brewing illicit liquor at large. Yet how contended are the Nicobarese in selling methylated spirit heedless of its fatal impact! Clandestinely or openly is not a key fear of being caught! Quite a few expressed serious concern citing instances of several thousand deaths that have taken place in recent past; while many a Nicobarese sarcastically consider brewing a custom that still prevails. Undesirably, most of them don’t pay heed to the sort of damage attributed to drinking illicit liquor. How contented are those individuals, who drink habitually like those lotus-eaters revelling as if sitting on the laps of gods & goddesses.  All admit they are to die some day or just another day in hell or paradise. Life, alas, is all too short, why no merry making in real life situation & not post-life reality, which to them is capricious. How gratified are those progressive Nicobarese living on drinking & drinking progressively? Just like the anthropological axiom progress can kill, is true in the case of brewing illicit liquor. Consciously or subconsciously!
As elsewhere; inebriated Nicobarese will not tend to slumber; nevertheless they prefer to ramble in public places buzzing & proclaiming his individuality as either knowledgeable, rich or asserting his status in the echelon of the community & abuses any individual; either who they come across or dare to control them under the influence of liquor. Mostly drunkards say they are not drunk they are physically imbalance only, of late taken as common drunkard truism. So how contented they are in their drinking habit customarily oblivion to its impact on their offsprings & the entire community at large, no worry at all its ill-effect on their health. Whereas, wellbeing as most health conscious individuals would observe fitness as a great asset of living. It is high time for the District authority to conduct awareness programmes; both micro & macro level scientifically, as hit & run awareness programmes are never successful, thorough bottom up approach at the community, tuhets & family level too as a social unit need to be streamlined recurrently. Any awareness programmes required utmost involvement of the native people besides Govt. officials to accomplish the desired results invariably.
Last but certainly not the least, present-day picture radiates discernibly that some liberal Nicobarese are keen to alter the pace of socio-economic life; established marriage alliances with outsiders &utilized their expertise in terms of starting commercial activities. Elderly people treat them as menace. Miscegenation is the product of marriage alliances with outsiders, hence would be difficult to discriminate the original Nicobarese with hybrid: semi or dubious one. Despite the social agony & fear, what, why & how the progressive Nicobarese are contented making peaceful dynamic coexistence amicably unmindful of whatever are happening around them is no astonishing iota of fact, whether they speak their native tongue or not, retain their original identity, traditional outfit so on and so forth. A de facto contemporary situation of pidgin Hindi that most teenagers are employing not only at home but also beyond the domestic purview & used it in all practical purposes. Bravo to the most progressive Nicobarese to be contented in whatever is being pursued socially, economically & politically as well. So hold on, pain ends in the wombs of time like all good things must come to an end. (Concluded/The writer is former Deputy Director, Anthropological Survey of India and & Futurologist)

Saturday, 13 May, 2017