Wednesday, 5 April 2017

My Tryst with Chowra

the blue sea and the floating canoes. picture by : Nishant Bodh, DANICS

(This article has been written by Nishant Bodh, DANICS, the new Assistant Commissioner of Nancowry after his maiden visit to Chowra)

The beautiful island of Chowra is part of Nancowry Sub-division of Nicobar District in UT of Andaman & Nicobar.
Located in Bay of Bengal this island has some of the most beautiful beaches in India.With its colourful water of many shades of Blue and white soft sand , its humble and lovely native Nicobari people,  Chowra provides a unique opportunity of adventure to those lucky few who can visit this gem of Nicobar District.
Like the other Nicobarese islands, people of Chowra have a Tribal Council which looks after the welfare of locals. Chowra's Tribal Council consist of CTC i.e. Chairman Tribal Council, currently  Shri Jonathan Edmund, Vice- CTC Shri Leslie Menku and 1st captains of all the five villages, which are Kuitasuk, Raihoeon, Chongamong, Alheat & Taheela. Below CTC lies the Village Council, every village has such council, which is headed by 1st captain and is assisted by 2nd and 3rd captains, who are democratically elected for 4 year tenure. This throws a light on the egalitarian nature of the Chowrites.
The island of Chowra and its people once dominated the entire sea faring trade between the Nancowry group and other Nicobarese islands. Their canoes (ap) and pots were famous through out the Nicobarese archipelago. It is said that in olden days, the Chowrite shamans were greatly feared and respected, making Chowra dominate the other islands, despite not having much natural resources. Today, Chowra is one of the least developed of the islands, owing to the problem of non-availability of fresh water resources, save for what is collected through water harvesting, making it vulnerable and an extremely difficult place to live in. The administration has installed ROs to make potable water available, but due to long gestation period of any project in these remote islands, life at Chowra is gruelling. The problems of Chowra are compounded by the lack of communication system save the police radio due to delayed installation of bsnl mobile tower there.Currently Chowrites communicate either through Police radio signals or with the weak signal available from the tower situated at Alurong village in Teressa island. The island is served by 2 weekly pawan hans sorties and 3-5 inter-island monthly ship service provided by speed boat and ships.The island has a secondary school and 2 sub-centres , the latter have recently been installed with new air-to-water technology based water dispensers which harvest the moisture from air to take care of the drinking water needs of the patients in Chowra. This island with the strength of approx. 1200 people, also has a very special football team which was runner up in the prestigious 22nd Vice President Cup. their performance in sports elucidates the fact that despite all hardships, the Chowrites love and know how to celebrate life. This is also beautifully demonstrated through the famous Canoe Racing. Most of the “Tuhets” or extended joint families which own and maintain beautiful Canoes with interesting names like “OFFICER-3”!
The cuisine consists mainly of sea food including variety of fishes, lobsters and crabs etc and Pigs, fouls and locally grown organic fruits such a delicious Pineapple, papaya, banana, jackfruit and guavas.
The Chowrites, though living in this difficult and far flung area, possess a spirit towards pursuing the excellence in them. The future of these islanders looks bright as the new generation is moving towards modernization while preserving their age old traditions.