Who are the Sentinelese ? | UPSC

Who are the Sentinelese ? | UPSC


  • ‘Any exploitation of Sentinel Island will wipe out tribals’

      WHY IN NEWS:

  • The AnSI has published the policy inputs in a paper titled ‘Draft of the Policies for Great Andamanese and Sentinelese’ in their journal recently.
  • Anthropological Survey of India policy document warns of threat to endangered group from commercial activity.


In a policy document, which comes almost two years after American national John Allen Chau was allegedly killed by the Sentinelese on the island, the AnSI says the “right of the people to the island is non-negotiable”.

Any exploitation of the North Sentinel Island of the Andamans for commercial and strategic gain would spell the death knell for its occupants.-Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI)

The Sentinelese

Cut off: The Sentinelese live in complete isolation.SOURCES: THE HINDU


  • “These rights are unassailable, non-negotiable and uninfringeable.
  • The prime duty of the state is to protect these rights as eternal and sacrosanct.

Therefore, their island should not be eyed for any commercial or strategic gain, for if it were to happen, it surely would be a death knell for its occupants.

  • The Sentinelese, with a population of about 50 to 100 live on the North Sentinel Island.
  • They are also the most isolated group among the five in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands which include the Great Andamanese, the Onge, the Jarawa, and the Shompens.


  • The Sentinelese are an uncontacted tribe living on North Sentinal Island, one of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean.

They vigorously reject all contact with outsiders.

  • In November 2018, John Allen Chau, an American man, was killed by members of the Sentinelese tribe.
  • In 2006, two Indian fishermen, who had moored their boat near North Sentinel to sleep after poaching in the waters around the island, were killed.


  • The Sentinelese, a most secluded, particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) who reside in complete isolation on the island.
  • They’re hunter-gatherers, and if their lifestyle is anything like that of related Andamanese peoples.

They probably live on fruits and tubers that grow wild on the island, eggs from seagulls or turtles, and small game like wild pigs or birds.

  • They carry bows and arrows, as well as spears and knives, and unwelcome visitors have learned to respect their skill with all of the above.
  • Many of those tools and weapons are tipped with iron, which the Sentinelese probably find washed ashore and work to suit their needs.


  • The GoI has promulgated various laws/regulations from time to time to ensure that the rights and well being of the Sentinelese are safeguarded.
  • These are being strictly implemented and enforced by the UT Administration.

These Laws/Regulation include

i) A &N Islands (PAT) Regulation 1956

ii) Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

iii) Restrictions under Foreigner (Restricted Area) Orders, 1963

iv) Visa Manual Conditions/Passport Act 1920, and

v) Indian Forest Act, 1927 and Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Who are the Sentinelese ? | UPSC


  • The entire North Sentinel Island along with 5 km coastal sea from high water mark is notified as tribal reserve.

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.

  • 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.


  • The coastal sea territory has been up to fixed extent of 1 Km to 5 Km .
  • This ensures marine resources like fish, turtle etc are available exclusively for the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)
  • The vehicular traffic on Andaman Trunk Road passing through Jarawa reserve is regulated by convoy system.

Buffer Zone notified in 2013, around the Jarawa Tribal Reserve , prohibits all commercial / tourism activity in the Buffer Zone. 

  • Joint patrolling by Police, Forest & Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti (AAJVS) is carried out around Jarawa area to prevent contact of poachers.

[wc_highlight color=”yellow” class=””]ALSO READ : MALDHARIS TRIBE  [/wc_highlight]


  1. The Sentinelese are assumed to be direct descendants of the earliest humans who emerged from Africa.
  2. Their language is incomprehensible to even other tribes in the region.
  3. They live on an island 50 km west of Port Blair. Their numbers are believed to be less than 150 and as low as 40.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. In the 1981, a cargo ship MV Primrose grounded on the reef surrounding North Sentinel Island. The crew were rescued after a week by an Indian helicopter.
  7. The Sentinelese even rejected outside help after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, throwing spears and arrows at a rescue helicopter that flew above.
  8. The State laws prohibit anyone from making any unauthorised contact with these isolated aboriginals.
  9. The Government excluded this island and 28 others in the Union Territory from the Restricted Area Permit or RAP regime till December 31, 2022.
  10. The lifting of RAP means foreigners can go to the island without permission from the government.

[wc_highlight color=”yellow” class=””]ALSO READ : GUJJAR TRIBE  [/wc_highlight]

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • Since the 1960s, there have been a handful of efforts to reach out to the tribe but all have largely failed. 
  • The only man believed to have succeeded in establishing friendly contact with the tribe was an Indian anthropologist Triloknath Pandit in 1991.
     SOURCES:  THE HINDU  | Who are the Sentinelese ? | UPSC



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