The A&N Islands is a Union territory of India, located in the Indian Ocean south of the Bay of Bengal and East of the Andaman sea. The capital is Port Blair and population around 400,000. Bosch India had organised their Annual Distributors meet in Port Blair on the above dates. A large group pf around 350 strong including distributor principals, their families & Bosch personnel descended on Port Blair's Veer Savarkar airport in specially chartered flights - some flew in via Chennai & while others from Kolkata. The airport appeared ancient and archaic. In fact as we drove into Port Blair I got the feeling of being transported back 50 years into the past - the town was so underdeveloped, there were so few people - both locals as well as tourists. But the environment was neat and spotlesslessly clean,there was a freshness in the air.
There are no five star hotels in Port Blair and accomodation had been arranged in seven different hotels. Two luxury buses and around 50 nos Tata Sumos & Toyota Quallis had been engaged and totally at the disposal of the group for the entire 4 days.
We stayed at the Peerless Sarovar Portico - situated right on the shores of an exquisite and secluded beach. We were greeted with a welcome drink - fresh tender coconut water. This was followed by check in, then lunch and a couple of hours of well deserved rest. Bosch had engaged an event management team to manage the stay, logistics and for arranging all the events, meeting, cruises, sight seeing & e
xploration. A grand gala entertainment had been arranged for 18th evening - there were two expert MC's to regale the crowd. Dipak Singh of Jhalak Dhikla Jaa fame & Sunanda had been specially flown from Mumbai in to provide some beautiful well choreographed dances. This was followed by an Andamanese tribal dance. The high point of the evening was a fire dance and acrobatics by an energetic athletic young man, who apart from his fantastic performances also had everyone in splits with his own style of "Kitna asaan hai" brand of wit and humour.
History: Isolation studies point to habitation in the Islands going back 30,000 to 60,000 years, well into the Middle Paleolithic. There were 5-6 distinct indigenous groups numbering around 7000 by 1850 when they first came into contact with outside groups - mostly prisoners, indentured labours and British Troops. Today only around 400-450 of such indigenous people remain. In 1858 the British set up a penal colony in these Islands mainly for dissenters and independence fighters from the Indian sub continent. The British continued their occupancy until the Japanese invasion and occupation of the Andaman Islands during World War II. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose visited the islands during the war and hoisted the Indian Tri Colour.
The islands were reoccupied by British and Indian troops of the 116 Indian Infantry Brigade on 7 October 1945, to whom the Japanese garrison surrendered. ANI became an Indian union territory in 1950.
Geography: There are 572 islands in the territory, of which only 38 are permanently inhabited. Most of the islands (about 550) are in the Andamans group.The smaller Nicobars comprise some 22 main islands. The total area of the Andaman Islands is some 6,408 km2 (2,474 sq mi); that of the Nicobar Islands approximately 1,841 km2 (711 sq mi) ( To be continued)................................