Andaman & Nicobar: All children of primitive tribe ‘Onges’ enrolled into school under SSA

  • A land mark achievement has been made under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in Andaman and Nicobar islands, by enrolling all the children of the Primitive tribe Onges in to school.
  • The Primary School established exclusively for the Onges tribe in Little Andaman has been upgraded to Elementary school to ensure uninterrupted education to one of the rarest primitive tribes in India.

Who are Onges?

image The Onge (also Önge or Ongee) are one of the Andamanese adivasi indigenous peoples of the Andaman Islands, located in the Bay of Bengal. They are sometimes classified as "Negritos". They were formerly distributed across Little Andaman Island and the nearby islets, with some territory and camps established on Rutland Island and the southern tip of South Andaman Island. This semi-nomadic tribe used to be fully dependent on hunting and gathering for food.

Why there is a concern for their population count?

Onge population numbers were substantially reduced in the aftermath of colonisation and settlement, from 672 in 1901 to barely 100. The surviving members are confined to two reserve camps on Little Andaman, Dugong Creek (northeast) and South Bay. A major cause of the decline in Onge population is the changes in their food habits brought about by their contact with the outside world.

What are the Demographic troubles of Onges people?

  • The Onge are one of the least fertile and most sterile people in the world. About 40% of the married couples are sterile.
  • Onge women rarely become pregnant before the age of 28.
  • Infant and child mortality is in the range of 40%.
  • The net reproductive index for the Onge is 0.91.
  • For comparison, the net reproductive index among the Great Andamanese is 1.40.

Onges and their Tsunami connection

The semi-nomadic Onges have a traditional story that tells of the ground shaking and a great wall of water destroying the land. Taking heed of this story, all 96 tribesmen of the semi-nomadic Onges survived the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, by taking shelter in the highlands.

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