Madhumala Chattopadhyay

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Madhumala Chattopadhyay
Known forAnthropologist

Madhumala Chattopadhyay is an Indian anthropologist known for the first ever friendly contact with the Sentinelese tribe of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.[1][2][3][4]

Early life[edit]

Chattopadhyay was brought up in Shibpur, a small suburb in Kolkatta, West Bengal. Her father was an accounts officer with the South Eastern Railway.[3] Her mother was Pronoti Chattopadhyay.

Chattopadhyay finished her schooling from Bhabani Balika Vidyalaya, Shibpur.[3] She did her B.Sc (Hons) in Anthropology from the University of Calcutta. She wrote a dissertation on “Genetic Study among the Aborigines of the Andaman”.

Chattopadhyay applied to a PhD fellowship with the Anthropological Survey of India for doing field research with the tribes of the Andamans.


On 4 January 1991, Chattopadhyay made the first ever friendly contact with the hostile Sentinelese tribe of Andamans. Chattopadhyay at that time was a research associate with the Anthropological Survey of India.[5] She went to the North Sentinel Island with the support of local administration's ship MV Tarmugli. She was a part of a team of 13. The key team members were S. Awaradi (Director, Tribal Welfare, A&NI administration) who was the Team Leader, Arun Mullick who was the Medical Officer (for providing medical attention in case of sickness or injury) accompanied by Chattopadhyay as an anthropologist.[1] The rest were support crew. On day 2 of this expedition, Chattopadhyay escaped from an arrow attack and the team retreated. On February 21 of the same year, the team came back to a successful contact with the tribe. The Indian government banned any more expeditions citing the possibility of the ancient tribe contacting epidemics due to frequent visits by outsiders.[4]

She spent six years researching the various primitive tribes of Andaman and Nicobar islands.[3][1]

She is also the first woman to established a friendly relationship within the Jarawa tribe, especially the women.[4] She last visited Andamans in 1999.[6]

Chattopadhyay's book Tribes of Car Nicobar and journal papers are used as standard reference texts in universities worldwide.[3]

Chattopadhyay currently works in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and lives in New Delhi.[1][6]


  1. ^ a b c d "Madhumala Chattopadhyay: An Anthropologist's Moment of Truth | Probashi". Probashi. 2015-09-27. Retrieved 2018-11-30.
  2. ^ "Meet Madhumala Chattopadhyay, First Indian Anthropologist Woman Who Had a Friendly Encounter With Sentinelese Tribe of Andaman". Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Madhumala Chattopadhyay, the woman who made the Sentinelese put their arrows down". Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c N., Naagesh. "Meet Madhumala Chattopadhyay, first to contact Sentinelese tribe in Anadamans and return alive". International Business Times, India Edition. Retrieved 2018-11-30.
  5. ^ "The woman who made friendly contact with Andaman's Sentinelese". Hindustan Times. 2018-12-04. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  6. ^ a b "What's Christianity to those who pray to sky & sea, says first woman to contact Sentinelese". Retrieved 30 November 2018.