Some ST [Serious Thoughts] on ST

Ms.Sudha Arjun sent the following as comments. But I feel that her strong feelings need to be put as a new post so that a much better and healthier debate can take place .

I was shocked and horrified to see the article in The Hindu, with reference to Jayalalitha’s letter to the PM requesting for ST status for the Badagas. It is a complete shame that we are being used by these politicians as the single largest vote bank in the Nilgiris.

I ask each Badaga to introspect and judge whether we really need this status, which is being given to us as an incentive, as a bribe so that we vote as per political requirements. Have any of us thought what qualifies for a scheduled tribe- have we broadened our horizon to look all over India to see the plight of millions of people living in abject poverty, with barely a single meal a day? The farmers in the plains, who have been sucked into a vicious cycle of debts draining their life blood, the caste-ridden hinterlands of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, where people are not given any opportunity to progress, the hills of the north-east, where people barely know the meaning of economic progress the way we in the South have experienced it- these are the people who deserve a special economic status, who need reservation.

One the one hand, we Badagas are so proud of our own social and economic progress- we have people settled in 98 countries in the world, we have a hatti which has 75 cars, our youngsters have been able to reap the benefits of liberalisation to join good companies and lead good lives. I ask many of those youngsters who are still in their hattis without any jobs to re-look at themselves- are you incapable of doing any job or were you unable to find one? If you are unable to find a job, inspite of the required qualifications, we have the vast Badaga network which should be put to use for such good causes to help find jobs, support persons who cannot work, or to help our poor.

Why should we look to the government to dole out reservations like alms- do we not have our pride that we can look after our own? Let the reservation go to the oppressed and the really deserving- let us not snatch is away from those who need these government benefits. In the name of our ancestors who have achieved so much without “reservation” but all with their hard work and belief in themselves, I request you all to stand up and refuse this “special status”.

Very powerful words that express anguish from the heart. However, I do not agree that Badagas being given ST status is demeaning nor that we are snatching away ‘others’ benefits. If all those who deserve to be given ST is not given, it only shows the apathy of the Govt. It is not that the number of communities that should be given ST is limited. My personal view is that ST status to Badagas helps in not only achieving better economic results but helps in protecting land around the hattis that is being given to ‘others’ [tribal lands are protected] ; it may help many to get into IAS/IPS and other Indian Admin Services ; be sure to have atleast ONE MP in the parliament etc.
I know of the Central Cabinet Minister for tribal affairs (from a royal family from Orissa and from Christian College, Madras [Chennai] and whose sisters are from schools in Ooty) who was quite surprised to learn that Badagas do not come under ST. In a different context, just because I am ‘OK’, should I forego the benefits offered to Senior Citizens like rail/air reservations or better Bank interest rates? – Wg Cdr JP

  • Sudha Arjun responds :

    Dear Sir,

    Thank you for including my comments even though you do not agree with them. However, I would sincerely advice all Badagas to re-think the ST status. We do not fulfil the general characteristics of a tribe. I prefer that we are looked upon as a forward thinking community grounded in our traditions of rich hospitality & warmth, willingness to take care of our own people and ability to work hard. We already come under the 27% reservation for OBCs which should cover the opportunities available to us. Are we not going against the spirit of the constitution when we cover economically better communities/ castes in the ST category?

    I am glad that you brought up the point of our land being protected, which is exactly what I had raised a few years back in “Burning issues”. Is there no other way to protect our lands? I have heard that in Himachal, only the locals can buy and sell land to each other and harmony with nature is an essential requirement. What can we do to bring in similar laws? How do we maintain the beauty of our hills without rampant construction in the name of development? Is getting included as ST, the only way to protect our land?

    With reference to the perks given to Senior citizens, I beg to differ. Majority of senior citizens across the country have no income and live on their savings, hence, this cannot be an equal comparision.
    Having said that, I look forward to more such healthy debates on the betterment of our community.

    Hello Ms.Sudha Arjun, thanks for your prompt rejoinder. I am putting your comments as a new post with the hope that there will be many more healthy debates on this ‘current’ topic – Wg Cdr JP

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 MAHALAKSHMI comments :

I agree with you Ms Sudha Arjun. Its meaningless in degrading us(Badagas) from our status for mere reservation and benefits from the Govt. There are people all over India(world) even today who die due to starvation, drought etc….There are people who even don’t know that the govt. can help them in many ways. These politicians play a good game there. We badagas with God’s Grace are good enough and developing ourselves in all the sectors today. Its a shame to all badagas asking for ST status though we can stand on our own. We should understand one thing basically (i.e) Reservation from govt. is to help the poor people to come up in their life and to make them stable. When a person from SC/ ST/ OBC gets a govt. job they should write to the govt. That they no more belong to lower caste, they satisfy their needs by themselves & they should upgrade their status. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen everywhere. Very scarcely people are genuine. It looks selfish, we Badagas strive for ST status in the country where we have the duty to abolish the caste difference, we should leave way for the poor and help people to come up.

Instead we can make way for unemployed youths. As we see in other parts of our country we don’t leave our senor citizens in old age home. Also I agree that not all of them are safe and good. We can ask govt. to take any safety measures for these problems and feel them safe rather to degrade us to ST status.

Also we should note that we have a major problem in our community, (i.e)early marriage of girl children, unawareness about the politics, in general though we are educated we lack in understanding the things that happens around us and take measures. We have to fight for these……….

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3 responses to “Some ST [Serious Thoughts] on ST

  1. I highly appreciate the attitude of Sudha Arjun.I feel very proud of a young badaga girl refusing an incentive given by the government. I wonder, can thousands of dynamic sudhas join together…can acheive the status of ST to our community.All are myth…hypocrisy.It looks good to debate.Badagas can never imagine the particular status we are debating today.It really requires, a Badaga Gandhi to acheive it. If somebody does it,he or she will be remembered in the history of our community.When it was not possible by the great Ari Gowder himself, who had direct access to the highest body of British Government…Who else can…..???

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  2. Mr. Jayaprakash,

    I also agree with Ms. Sudha and Ms. Mahalakshmi. First I got to appreciate your hard efforts in creating this website and preserving your culture by making it known to badaga community who lives in different part of country and even in different parts of world. Ms. Sudha has rightly pointed out that badaga people are living in 98 countries around the world. recently issue of ST status to badaga has arised. Just you can think over it. we can take nilgiri as example. There are six Primitive Scheduled Tribes in Nilgiris like Toda, Kota, Irula, Kurumbas etc and their population put together is around 26,000. Badaga communities population is around 3.5 lakhs. Can you compare the development between badaga community and PTG in nilgiri in any one aspect of life may it is economic level, education level, social status. We can also talk about constitutional provision for declaring certain community as ST:

    1)Primitive Traits- cant see much primitive trait like that of PTG living in nilgiris.
    2)Geographical isolation – we dont see much isolation.
    3)Distinct culture- yes, there is some culture but it resembles with other PTG in nilgiri and not unique.
    4)Shy of contact with community at large- badag living in 98 countries. they have mingled with all peoples in different country
    5)Economically backward- you know it very well. Does any one PTG in nilgiri owns tea factory or estate or big malls or home.

    I have seen some articles in your website claiming that if badaga given ST status many will get through UPSC and in every attempt around 10-15 will get service. I am against this view i can assure you 100 percent that if badaga were given ST status and each year not 10-15 if hardly 2 to 3 gets selected to UPSC it will be big achievement. Hard work matter and commitments matter rather than community. Also i saw that you are saying badaga need one MP permently to represent badaga community. India is vast country there are many communities like badaga and each community feel they need one MP to represent their community means our parliament will not have space to accommodate all MPs. So we should work for betterment of our country as a whole. Badaga community has made many achievements and they should march ahead and not become lazy by availing concession from government which is also not fair deal. Let reservation be used by people who needs more for their development.

    Jai hind.

    Hello Kumar, Thanks for your comments. I am glad that we are able to discuss and debate such a sensitive issue without any bias or personal basis. I have an open mind and strongly feel that this issue needs to be given a lot of attention as it affects the whole community. As I keep saying, I am a proud Indian first before being a proud Badaga. – Wg Cdr JP

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  3. I agree with you Ms Sudha Arjun. Its meaningless in degrading us(Badagas) from our status for mere reservation and benefits from the Govt. There are people all over India(world) even today who die due to starvation, drought etc….There are people who even don’t know that the govt. can help them in many ways. These politicians play a good game there. We badagas with God’s Grace are good enough and developing ourselves in all the sectors today. Its a shame to all badagas asking for ST status though we can stand on our own. We should understand one thing basically (i.e) Reservation from govt. is to help the poor people to come up in their life and to make them stable. When a person from SC/ ST/ OBC gets a govt. job they should write to the govt. That they no more belong to lower caste, they satisfy their needs by themselves & they should upgrade their status. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen everywhere. Very scarcely people are genuine. It looks selfish, we Badagas strive for ST status in the country where we have the duty to abolish the caste difference, we should leave way for the poor and help people to come up.

    Instead we can make way for unemployed youths. As we see in other parts of our country we don’t leave our senor citizens in old age home. Also I agree that not all of them are safe and good. We can ask govt. to take any safety measures for these problems and feel them safe rather to degrade us to ST status.

    Also we should note that we have a major problem in our community, (i.e)early marriage of girl children, unawareness about the politics, in general though we are educated we lack in understanding the things that happens around us and take measures. We have to fight for these……….

    Like

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