The Population and colonisation of Andaman Nicobar Islands

Bengalis, Tamils, Local Borns, Aboriginal tribes, Nicobarese, Moppilas and other Malayalis, Telugu, Burmese & Karen, and Chotanagpur Tribals (known locally as Ranchi's) from Jharkhand & Bihar constitute the majority of the population of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Population Census

  1901 1941 1951 1971 1981 1991 2001 2011
Total Population 24649 33768 30971 115133 188741 280661 356152 380581
Male 70027 107261 154369 192972 202871
Female 45106 81480 126292 163180 177710
Rural Population 88915 139107 205706 239954 237093
Male 53195 78401 111986 128961 126287
Female 35720 60706 93720 110993 110806
Urban Population 26218 49634 74955 116198 143488
Male 16832 28860 42383 64011 76584
Female 9386 20774 32572 52187 66904

Religion wise Population

Religion 1971 1981 1991 2001
Hindu 70134 121793 189521 246589
Christian 30342 48274 67211 77178
Muslim 11655 16188 21354 29265
Sikh 865 991 1350 1587
Buddhist 103 127 322 421
Jain 14 11 17 23
Others 2020 1357 886 1089

Population groups / cultures

Local-Borns : The convicts brought from different parts of mainland India to the penal settlement in Andaman Islands between 1858 and 1942. were called as 'Locals'. In 1921 there were about 3,000 such free descendents from different linguistic background. They were initially called 'Local Born', but they are now simply called 'Locals'. The peculiarity of the local community is that it consists of Hindus, Muslims and Christians. They are casteless and hierarchy free community. The local community, which under a peculiar demographic and social situation, emerged from a variety of linguistic, caste and religious groups has developed their own linguistic and social identity in course of time, through marital and other social relationships. Now they form an integrated, casteless and secular society of unique kind.

Bengali(s) : The Bengali community is the major population of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Majority of Bangla speaking population came to these Islands in 1954 as per colonisation policy of Govt. of India. They were mostly from Khulna, Faridpur, Jessore and Barisal districts of East Bengal (Now Bangladesh-Erstwhile East Pakistan) and surrounding regions of Indo-Bangladesh borders. These people are locally called as Bengali Settlers. The last group of Bengali settlers arrived as late as 1972. Due to easy access from Kolkata and lesser employment opportunities in West Bengal, lot of families are still migrating from Bengal. In due coarse of time this community has become politically very significant. All the Member of Parliament(s) for previous 9 terms were either Bengali or having Bengali influence (Shri Manoranjan Bhakta from Diglipur was Member of Parliament from Andaman Nicobar for six terms 1980, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998 | The Present M.P. Bishu Pada Ray also said to be Bengali and is re-elected for third time - 1999, 2009, 2014). The major Bengali settlements are found in North Andaman, Middle Andaman, Little Andaman, Havelock Island, Neil Island and South Andaman. There are reports that illegal migrants from Bangaladesh are still entering using fake documents.

Malayali(s) : The first Malyali community were from Mappila (Moplah) community (Muslim community of Kerala, primarily from the northern region called Malabar) and were deported to Andaman Islands following the Moplah Rebellion in August 1921. They were allotted free agricultural land by local administration. The Moplah community colonies are found mostly in Bambooflat, Hopetown, Wimberley Gunj, Stewart Gunj, Ograbraj and Mannar Ghat in South Andaman.
                     The next batches of Malyalis were settled by Government of India under colonisation schemes between 1954-1961. They were brought over by the Govt. to augment the workforce required for development of the Andaman Islands. Subsequently during 1970's lot of people started pouring into Andamans from Kerala because of much coveted government white collar jobs.

Tamil(ians) : Tamil speaking population is widely spread, and a sizeable population is found in almost every Island. The Tamil speaking people have been migrating from Tamil Nadu for employment and livelihood all over the years due to easy access from Chennai to Port Blair. Not every Tamil speaking family however are migrated unofficially. Few 35 Tamil families are Burmese and Sri- Lankan repatriates who were settled by Govt. of India as per the colonization policy between 1955 and 1960. Presently they are a large group who influence the Islands politically, economically and commercially. They also occupy many important positions in Panchayati Raj Institutions and Port Blair Municipal council.

Telugu(s) : The first batch of Telugu convicts people were brought to islands after the Rumpha Rebellion in 1926. Most of the Telugu speaking community migrated to the Andaman and Nicobar Island from the Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh post independence. Most of them who migrated landed into non white collar jobs and were working in forest and other departments of Andaman and Nicobar administration. A Telugu fisherman community is found in almost every Island.

Chottanagpur Community : During british era a sizable number of people from Chotanagpur region of the present Jharkhand state were brought here to the Andamans for all kinds of manual works. They are locally known as Ranchi's (named after their origin links). They belong to many traditional social groups like Mundas, Baraiks, Oraons, Gonds, Lohars, Kharias and the Kumhars. The Christian missionaries have brought others here during the pre-independence period. But the largest number of them came as labourers in the Military Engineering Services (MES), General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF) and government and private organizations in the late 1960s. A sizeable number of them settled in Baratang under the rehabilitation schemes of the Andaman and Nicobar Administration.

Burmese : A sizable number of Theraveda Burmese, who revolted against British were deported to Andamans. The British colonial rulers also brought many Burmese to Andaman from Burma during 1907-23. They came as convicts laborers to clear the forest and to act as guards. The Burmese settlers and their descendants are now scattered throughout the islands. A large number of Burmese have left islands after Indian Independence back to their homeland Burma.

Karen : The Karen is a migrant group of the Andaman Islands with a population of ~2000. The Karen of the Andamans are Burmese immigrants were first brought by the British Government with the help of Christian missionaries in March 1925. Originally Karens were brought to work in the forests and subsequently they were allowed land for their own settlement near Webi, Mayabunder. The Karens were a reserved society in pre 1947 era and did not like to interact much with other communities. Karen have acquired an excellent knowledge of the rain forest and the seas, becoming expert hunters and fisherman. The Karens have their distinctive colony at Webi (village) and nearby 5 other villages (Lucknow, Deopur , Latau, Karmatang-9 , Karmatang-10) near Mayabunder in Middle Andaman. It was previously recorded that the Karen of Andaman are divided into two sub-groups, the Sgaw and Pwo on the basis of language differentiation. However in reality the Karen are not aware of this division and all Karen of the Andaman consider them to be of the Sgaw group.

Ex-servicemen : The rehabilitated settlers of the Great Nicobar Islands are primarily ex-servicemen. The first such batch was brought to Andamans in 1969. Remaining settlers have come from different parts of mainland followed in 1970, 1974, 1977, 1979 and 1980. The villages of the ex-servicemen are situated near the sea coast, along the north-south road of Great Nicobar, which stretches for 45 km

Nicobarese and aboriginal Tribes : Click for more information

Pre Independence (1947) Settlements

The British Government allotted house sites and agricultural lands to the convicts under the provisions of Section 5 of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Regulation 1926. The allotment of Agriculture land was made to any person to any land either by way of "Grant" or by issuing licenses. The Grant for the cultivation of long lived crops such as coconut, coffee, rubber and the like for a period of thirty years and renewed for further period on the previous sanction of the Central Government. License for Agricultural Land as a Non-occupancy tenant was issued to any person for paddy cultivation, horticulture and short lived crops. These Non-occupancy tenants thereafter brought under Occupancy Tenants, after cultivating five years continuously and not having violated any provisions laid down in the license while allotment was made.

Post Independence Settlements

The idea of colonisation of the islands emerged between the period of 1949 to 1952 due to the 2 prime reasons listed below:
1) To maintain the Indian claim over the Territory
2) To provide some relief to the refugee crisis at West Bengal
Displaced persons including agriculturists from East Pakistan were readily available for settlement.

At the begining of the colonisation efforts of Indian Govt, 450 Refugee families from East Pakistan were settled on the either readily available land (about 3000 acres in South Andaman) abandoned by the departing ex-convicts

During 1953, the Andaman and Nicobar Administration issued proclamation which was published in the leading Newspapers of Mainland who are willing to settle in Andaman under colonisation scheme. Accordingly, agriculture families from different states were brought to these islands and allotted land for cultivation. The list of families settled in Andaman and Nicobar Islands during the period is shown below in the table.

Year Migrated From No. of Families Area of Settlement (Tehsil)
1949 to 1952 East Bengal 450 South Andaman
1953 East Bengal 97 Ferrargunj
1954 East Bengal 438 Rangat
  Kerala 35 Rangat(Betapur)
1955 East Bengal 390 Ferrargunj & Rangat
  Kerala 37 Rangat
  Tamil Nadu 4 Rangat
1956 East Bengal 221 Diglipur
  Kerala 42 Diglipur
1958 East Bengal 194 Mayabunder
  Kerala 6 Ferrargunj
1959 East Bengal 217 Mayabunder
  Tamil Nadu 14 Diglipur
  Jharkhand (erstwhile Bihar) 120 Baratang
1960 East Bengal 250 Mayabunder
  Tamil Nadu 17 Diglipur(Milangram)
  Bihar 64 Diglipur(Ramnagar)
1961 East Bengal 228 Port Blair(Havelock)
  Kerala 14 Port Blair (Rangachang)
  Jharkhand (erstwhile Bihar) 13 Diglipur (Jagannath Dera)
1967 East Bengal 323 Mayabunder(Billiground)
1968 East Bengal 100 Neil Island
1969 Ex Servicemen 330 Campbell Bay
1969 to 1971 East Bengal 366 Little Andaman
SriLanka (Ceylon) 20 Little Andaman

Rajnivas at Port BlairRajNivas - Governer residence

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M.V. Harsha Vardhana