Anstice JUSTIN

Anthropological Survey of India
27, Jawaharlal Nehru Road
Kolkata 700 016
West Bengal
India

Dr. Justin is the only academic of Nicobarese origin to work inthe field at present.

"I was born on July 29, 1954 at Perka Village in Car Nicobarisland. My native name has been derived from the name of a soft treecalled Aseno Ta-aunj, which has thin green leaves and flowers ofyellow color. My parents names are Teerah Leacock and Margaret, whosenative names are Litei and Minai respectively. I was christenedAnstice Justin as my baptismal name. My father had studied up to thefirst standards at Mus Village in Car Nicobar and was a student ofthe first Nicobarese Bishop, the Rt.Rev. John Richardson, popularlyknown as Hachevka.

I was about four years old when my parents took me to theresidence of my father's sister, Margaret Leengin. She had no son butthree daughters. Her longing for a son came true when she could adoptme, telling her husband Ephraim Makku that I was not adopted but herreal offspring.

In those days, parents were reluctant to send their children toschool. Neither Margaret Leengin nor her husband favored the modernidea of sending me there. To them, schooling or education was thoughtand viewed as an external force for deculturation in terms ofNicobarese culture and tradition. I was supposed to come along withthem wherever they went, especially on festive occasions. I wastreated as the apple of their eyes, fulfilling the traditional rolein their social life as only son for which schooling was very muchagainst their will and tradition. In 1962 Ephraim Makku breathed hislast.

One day, on our return from plucking coconuts, I noticed a sizablenumber of boys and girls playing, dancing and singing in chorus inEnglish within the premises of the Rev. Watchful Taujee's residence.On seeing them, keenness developed within me instinctively. I told myadopted mother that I was keen to join these boys and girls at theresidence of the Rev. Watchful Taujee the next day. On hearing this,she replied that those boys and girls were not simply playing,dancing and singing but were sent to school to learn the art ofwriting, reading and to be given other alien knowledge. She stressedrepeatedly that "I don't want you to be sent to school because youshall have to go outside the island and I'll miss you greatly."However, after strong persuasion, she yielded and gave the nod.

As destiny would have it, I did my early schooling in thevernacular School of Saint Paul's Church at Perka. 1963 is indeed ared-letter year inasmuch as I was sent to school during this period.I studied up to form 4 standard in the vernacular school. In July1965 I was admitted to Primary School at Tamaloo Village.Conventionally, Hindi as a subject was not taught at the vernacularschool which caused me to revert to form 2 standard instead of beingadmitted to form 5. In 1969 I joined the Government Senior SecondarySchool, Lapati, Car Nicobar, and came out with flying colors in 1975.I received my graduation in 1978 from the Government Degree College,Port Blair, which was affiliated with Punjab University in thosedays. I graduated in English, geography and political science.

During my final year pursuing the BA I came across a team ofpost-graduate students of anthropology from Calcutta University. Theyhad come to Port Blair to conduct anthropological studies. Adocumentary film entitled "Man in Search of Man" was screened in theauditorium of the Government Degree College, Port Blair. I witnessedthe documentary film; it touched my inner being and made me stunnedto accept the barest facts about foragers and their levels of cultureas was shown in the film. Thus came the deviation which paved theacademic path to philanthropy and finally embarked the discipline andanchored myself in the deepest depth of anthropology.

Initially I had developed an aversion to go to Ranchiin 1978.Although the University Grant Commission had awarded to me monthlystipends and other incidental expenditures, for instance to and frotraveling expenses, cost of books, etc. It irked me to pursue mypost-graduation studies in a place like Ranchi. However, my elderbrother Herbert forced me to go to Ranchi. He not only forced me butalso escorted me all the way from Car Nicobar to Ranchi. I tookadmission at Ranchi in the year 1979. During my post-graduation I didanthropological investigation in Rishikesh, Hardwar, Bombay, Goa andother cities in India and gathered findings on the western travelerswith reference to the hippies and their terminology which is thefield dissertation submitted to Ranchi University, anthropologydepartment.

In 1983 I was selected as Junior Research Fellow attached to theAnthropological Survey of India at Port Blair. Soon after joining, Iprepared a synopsis entitled "The Authority Structure in NicobareseSociety."Field work was carried out in two different islands in theNicobar group. I served as a Junior Research Fellow for 18 monthsonly. In April 1985 I joined as Senior Technical Assistant (Cultural)in the Survey and was assigned to conduct field investigation onthree different communities under the prestigious national project"People of India." In 1988 I appeared before the Union Public ServiceCommission (UPSC) interview and in January 1989 I got the appointmentorder and joined immediately as an anthropologist."

 


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