Dharmalingam Venugopal contested the recently held TN Assembly elections-2016 from Ooty (Udhagamandalam) constituency as an independent candidate. Many contestants were Badagas representing various political parties including two independants. Mr.Ganesh of Congress won the elections.
The following comments of Dharmalingam Venugopal amply explains about the problems posed by independents in INDEPENDANT INDIA however great their personal credentials may be. After the great Badaga leader Rao Bahadur HB ARI Gowder’s victory in the elections of 1957, no other person has won as a independent from the Nilgiris.
The so called powerful institution of Election Commission of India may not be as powerful/effective as we may hope to believe. The malaise of money and muscle power has corrupted the system considerably if not completely. Like it or lump it. But, that is the bitter truth! – Wg Cdr JP
The elections are over. Like every candidate I am required to give an explanation for how I have fared. Readers can decide if what I have to say is an excuse or an acceptable fact.
1. Election is unkind to Independents. While others have months to canvass, Independents get only the last ten days to campaign because symbols to Independents are allotted just 10 days before polling.
2. Then again, the electoral procedures are disproportionately a heavy burden on Independents who cannot afford various agents like the parties. Even in the voting machine my name was posted at the end of 11 contestants though I had a legitimate case for mentioning my name as ‘Dharmalingam Venugopal’.
3. Independents count on press and media for support but in reality press and media have absolutely no support for Independents. But such dailies carry scholarly articles by leading writers extolling the virtues of voting for committed Independents. Sheer hypocrisy.
4. Leading Tamil and English dailies not only denied me coverage despite the fact that they have been reporting my news for more than 30 years; they also refused to carry my advertisements worth Rs.50,000.
5. In the last few days of election, Independents like me were never mentioned in the news. Dinamalar published photos and feedback of all the candidates except the two Independents including myself. Some people even called me to enquire whether I had withdrawn my candidature. It did not matter to the press that I have been contributing substantially for the good of Ooty for the past 30 years. The same press that reported my contributions for the past 30 years failed to mention a line about my candidature at the time of elections. That is our press responsibility today!!
6. Of course currency notes and bogus votes were freely distributed by the leading political parties. Even I was offered my ‘share’ of Rs. 500 in open day light. The innocent lady who distributed the case did not even understand when I explained to her how wrong her action was.
7. Bogus votes were liberally cast in the election. In one booth, during Scrutiny, I challenged about 500 votes cast with only the thumb impression, evidently of the same person. In the inquiry, all those concerned, mostly women broke down. I knew I could only punish the poor teachers who were deputed to the polling booth but cannot touch the culprits who cast the bogus votes. I magnanimously excused the polling staff and closed the matter.
I have 40 pages of such votes photographed in my mobile but cannot publish any of them for obvious reasons.
8. This time all the contestants in Ooty were Badagas. Badaga voters generally vote according to their loyalty to their village, family and region. Being born and brought up in Ooty I had no such advantage.
9. I was mainly counting on Ooty votes from the informed and knowledgeable voters. Because, they have been the biggest sufferers of neglect of Ooty. But surprisingly very few turned out to vote. I suspect most of them did not even vote. This is the basic problem. There is no point in cribbing and complaining if you are not prepared to act.
10. What is the future of Vote for Ooty? It will continue as a Think Tank and an Action Point for the rehabilitation and promotion of Ooty which will be 200 years in just seven years.
A matter of concern is that we still do not have accurate information about our hattis.
Like, the geographical/location of the village, the number of households, in a hatti – how many Nattaru, the marriage relations with other hattis etc. Even in our page on Hattis / villages, I have tried to give details known/available.
The good news is that Prof.Paul Hockings and Christiane Pilot-Raichoor are in the process of updating their book/encyclopedia A Badaga – English Dictionary in which they have not only given the names of Badaga Hamlets [hattis] but elaborated them with lot of information.
Prof.Paul Hockings writes :
….. you will be pleased to hear that C. Pilot-Raichoor and I have agreed to work on a new revised and expanded edition of the Badaga dictionary.
But there is one thing you might be able to help me with. As you will recall the older Dictionary (most unusually) inlcuded all the Badaga place names, especially villages. These however are rather out-of-date, and I am wondering whether through your Badaga network you could help me by getting new figures for the number of Badaga households in each hamlet. (If there are Tamil houses there too, these should not be counted.)
Hubbatale np. Ubatalai, Ubbadalai, Oopathalay, Oopathullay, Vubathalai, Vubadale, Hubbathala, name of a hamlet 3.5 km. NW of Coonoor; head village of Hubbatale commune (and also of Hubbathala Panchayat, with a 1991 population of 10,383; Kasturi, Belli and Maduve/Hattara kulas; in existence before 1812, and now classiﬁed as a town); ….. ‹ hubbe+tale, ‘hill forest indigo+headland’) DEDR 4229, 3103
As you can see, I give all the variant spellings in past literature, and my estimate of the size in 1972. The 1991 population could also be updated, of course. What I would like is for you to ask your contacts to give you an accurate count of the number of households in the villages they know well. I attach a checklist of all the Badaga hamlets, so you could just add the data onto that when it comes in. Your help, as always, would be much appreciated. Best wishes, – Paul
My reply :-
Thanks a lot for your email. I am delighted to learn that, along with C. Pilot-Raichoor, you are working on a revised and expanded edition of Badaga Dictionary. Indeed a great news.
Frankly, it is a shame for a Badaga like me to say that in this age and time, we are not in a position to say exactly how many Badaga villages are there. The confusion is compounded to know that a group of Thoreyas do not consider themselves as main stream Badagas as they have managed to classify themselves as OBC – and not as BC – Backward community under which Badagas are grouped and recognised by the Govt.
Samples from A Badaga English Dictionary
Biligiri Rangan Hills/Me:l si:me
Cinna Hubbatale = Hubbatale
Hubbatale Ki:yaṭṭi (has akka
As far as I know [About Hubbathalai Commune], Karimorahatti is NOT part of Hubbathale Commune.
When you mention Hubbathalai, generally it is taken to mean the Melatti, we ‘locals’, residents of this hamlet simply call it HATTI.
It is also called Peria Hubbathalai. Peria in Tamil means big/elder.
Hubbathali Kiyatti is called OORU and is also known as Chinna Hubbathali. Chinna means small/younger. Many, including the residents, are not aware that it had/has akka bakka.
As is believed, a hatti with a akka bakka is considered older but in case of Hubbathali, it is slightly vague.
Incidentally, in the main festival of Ram Navami of Hubbathali Melhatti, the deities are FIRST taken to Kiyatti before the same is taken to every house. Devaru Eth’tho’dhu. May be that gives an indication that Hubbathalai Kiyatti is where it all began though latter, the importance has shifted to Melatti due to Rao Bahadur Bellie Gowder and his son Ari Gowder.
I have some rare photos of these hattis, including the visit of Governor of Madras to Hubbathali.
By the way, many from both Hubbathale hattis have married from/to Karimora hatti.
I request all friends to give whatever info they have on their hattis/villages.
A big thank you in advance.
See the Badaga Hamlets as given by Prof.Paul Hockings here -> Badaga villages
See the list of Hattis/Oorus compiled by Wing Commander Bellie Jayaprakash me here – >
comments about our website http://www.badaga.co
‘All the efforts you had taken have started giving fruits. Yeomen service not only to this society, but the outsider also starts knowing about Badagas & their culture’
Thank you very much for your comments. It is highly encouraging words like yours that give the motivation to do more.
The surprising fact is that many aspects of daily life and times of Badagas in the good old days of hundred of years back still remain to be unearthed and properly documented.
I have no hesitation to accept the fact that Badagas are one of the original and indigenous tribes of the Nilgiri hills.
French researcher on Badaga Christiane Pilot Raichoor says with authority that Badaga language is not a derivative/dialect of Kannada recently. Many Badagas are not even aware of this fact.
– Wg Cdr JP
Hubbathalai.N.SIVAN, [CEO, OOTY FRESH Speciality Nilgiris Tea Project,(Farmers’ Producer Organization for Sustainable Developments and Inclusive Growth), a life member of Young Badaga Association [YBA] expresses his concern about the ‘alleged involvement of some Badaga Community Members’ Electioneering Campaign for Narrow Political Gains in the name of YBA in the forthcoming Tamil Nadu Assembly Election-2016.
He says that a group of our Badaga community people have been going around our villages often canvassing for and against some Assembly Election Candidates of our district illegally without getting any prior approval of our Community Bodies and Election Commission/District Administration, which is total violation of election code of conduct.
He would like to submit that our prestigious Badaga community body/association [YBA] is purely apolitical and living in harmony with all other communities. Hence, any move to intervene in our present atmosphere would surely destabilize our community as a whole, which cannot be allowed at any cost.
Though YBA is ‘supposed’ to be an independent and NON POLITICAL institution, most of the present elected members who are involved in running the day to day affairs of YBA belong to a particular political party and therein lies the problem. Can we hope to see a YBA that is APOLITICAL in the true sense of the word that is professionally run for the betterment of the mountain people in general and Badagas in particular?- Wg Cdr JP