Monthly Archives: September 2016

Will there be a ‘dawn’ for Nilgiri Small tea growers?

The tea grown in the Nilgiris is mainly due the tireless efforts of the hardworking Badaga community with their small tea holdings [tea estates called ‘Thotta’]. Unfortunately, like in many parts of the country, these small tea growers – farmers who sell the green tea leaves plucked from their small and tiny tea estates to the local Tea Factories, have been getting a raw deal due to the cartelization and the middle men, the so called tea brokers along with a ‘could not care less’ attitude of the Tea Board.
Many, in sheer desperation and disgust, have sold their land [tea estates] to property developers or abandoned the idea of growing tea. Needless to add, they are always at the ‘receiving end’.
Though a few informed ‘elders’ like Hubbathalai Siva have been trying their best to get a better price for the small tea growers, no substantial benefits have resulted so far. Will there be a better tomorrow that can bring cheers with chai? – Wg Cdr JP

Hubbathalai N Sivan, Promoter & Social Entrepreneur, Nilgiris Tea Development Foundation(NTDF), OOTYFRESH Speciality Nilgiris Tea Project  (Sustainable Development & Inclusive Growth Initiative for Nilgiris Small Tea Gowers) writes :

The Nilgiris Small Tea Growers have been protesting since more than a decade to get remunerative price for their green tea leaves.
At one stage, Mr.R.Dharuman, a  small tea grower has gone to Madras High Court taking this plight and the court has given a historic verdict, and  directed the government to  work out the modalities and give realistic price for green tea leaves produced by small tea growers  of the Nilgiris.
But, despite Tea Board’s intervention to implement the court order, the Nilgiris based Bought Leaf Factories(BLFs) have got court stay on the same  and continue the prevailing Price Sharing  Formula (PSF), which is only benefiting themselves thereby  putting small tea growers in problems.
Hence, some like- minded and quality-conscious small tea growers put pressure on the government to give permission to establish their own Micro and Mini Tea Factories in a view to get remunerative price for their own green tea leaves under Make in India and Startup India initiatives.
The government(TEA BOARD) then notified establishment of Micro  and Mini Tea Factories  on 23-12-2013 in the Nilgiris by the Small Tea Growers who can produce 200-500 kgs of ‘Made  Teas’ in their factories, exempting from  Tea Marketing Control Order 2013 declared 40% subsidy for these factories.
But, the small tea growers are still in problem and did not get green signal  so far from  the government to establish their own Micro and Mini Tea factories for reasons  best known to Tea Board and they smell foul play by some influential tea industry entities, trying to stop the initiatives of small tea growers, whose sustainability and  livelihood are at stake now.
If the environment continues  again, then the Small Tea Growers have no other option, but to stop plucking their green tea leaves and protest to quit the field.
Would the government look into this, at least now?
2016-09-22-14-39-43
Sivan and others meeting the Union Commerce secretary at Ooty on the eve of IITC -2016
HN Sivan adds :
IITC-2016 IS A WELCOME EVENT FOR THE NILGIRIS TEA INDUSTRY.
THE ORGANISERS SHOULD  BE LAUDED FOR BRINGING SOME TOP INTERNATIONAL TEA TRADING COMMUNITY TO NILGIRIS BY WHICH WE SURELY WILL HAVE GOOD SCOPE FOR OUR TEAS IN FUTURE.
BUT,THE MAIN STAKE HOLDERS-THE NILGIRIS SMALL TEA GROWERS, WHO HAVE AROUND 85% SHARE IN CONTRIBUTION FROM OUR DISTRICT WERE NOT INVITED FOR THE EVENT TO EXPOSE THEM TO INTERNATIONAL TEA COMMINITY..
IS IT A TEAM UP INITIATIVE FOR SUSTAINABILITY?
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Will there be a ‘Lit Fest’ on Badaga?

My first visit to a Literary Festival

10 random or reckless thoughts

Dharmalingam Venugopal

Though I have been in Madras (I do not prefer to use the word Chennai) for 40 years I have not attended a single Literary Festival.

Today I attended the Ooty Literary Festival lured by the inclusion of ‘Ooty’ to the title. My humble impressions.

  1. Since I came to learning much later in life I was always overawed of ‘Writers’. Always images of Socrates or Karl Marx jumped to my mind. I have imagined writers to be kind of military generals determined to cleanse men and women and change society. But I was in for kind of little shock today. It appeared anyone could become a writer provided he or she could think of a marketable idea, write something, have it corrected by a copy editor and find a publisher who could make the cover more attractive than the book.
  2. I was welcomed by two persons whom I could not recall of ever been associated with books or literature. I realized that they were merely trying to fill up the hall. Being a member of patron of Nilgiri Library is indeed like a Honorary Degree of Letters.

  3. I learnt that the topic for a writer today is immaterial. It could be on global or local catastrophe or how to reduce your waist line or how you eat your ice-cream or view your cinema. It’s always man or mankind who are the villains; not you and me. I confessed to one man, probably a Writer, that my grandfather had 10 children but lived in a house of 600 sqft while I have no children but live in a house of 2000 sqft. If a native of Kotagiri could be so guilty of ‘over consumption’ why blame the world. Those I put the question slipped away; evidently their houses must be not less than 5000 sqft!!!

  4. Literature, I thought, was for all classes. But Literary Festivals, it looked , are definitely for the higher classes. The writers mostly were in expected casuals (humility in dress at least) and the moderators were all in status-suits and fine silks befitting their rank and class. There were a sprinkling of middle class in the audience. Where are the poor? Are there no ‘Gana literature’? The oral and epic literature of the Badagas and Todas had been described by scholars as exceptionally unique and profound. Do they not merit a mention in the Literary Festival in their own soil?

This beautiful description of a LITFEST reflects the feelings of many like me, the Tamil medium [in school] types, who long to see and hear the ‘local liteaure of of Badagas and Todas’ being discussed. Since my knowledge on the Toda language is limited, I can vouch for the great and unique Badaga [mainly oral] literature. The Badaga ballads like Beradha Bellie, Koli Thippae , Udugu Jogi, Kara Chennae etc., can not only bring the best of human feelings but also reflects the life of tribals  in those days in the Nilgiri hills much before  any British or  missionary ever came to ‘this unspoilt piece of paradise on earth’ – Wg.Cdr.JP

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Dr.Haldorai and Nellikolu Trust

haldoraiDr.Haldorai, along with Nellikolu Trust has been doing a great service to Badaga Community.

Kiya Kauhatti Dr.Haldorai (married from Hubbathalai Ooru), also a scholar in Tamil, has written many books on and about Badaga, the unique & one of the original tribes of the Nilgiri Hills and Badaga (Badagu), the language. Nellikolu Trust has been publishing his books and making it available at an affordable price.

Of late, Dr.Haldorai has revived the traditional Badaga Ballads like ‘Koli Tippae‘ and ‘Udugu Jogi‘ and given them both in Badaga [used Tamil Script] and in Tamil translation. Obviously, the trigger seems to be a gifted lady – Devhennu, wife of Jogi Gowder, from Kekkatti and daughter of Nunduva Nanjaiyya, who can sing Badaga Ballads in her beautiful voice. Nanduva Nanjaiyya Rama mentions that when she sings these Badaga ballads like the story of the sufferings of Koli Thippae, ‘everyone is touched and eyes wellup with tears’.

The stories of ‘Koli Thippae’ and ‘Udugu Jogi, recorded by Nellikolu Trust and written by Dr.Haldorai from the songs of Devhennu are indeed treasures that we can be proud of.

Happy Birthday !

Mom 3

You would have  been 104 today!

A journey that was extraordinary ! A life full of challenges !!

But you never gave up !

The steely determination with which you faced  fate and life, is an inspiration for many generations!!

Happy birthday to Mrs.Idyammal [Idy Hethe], wherever you are!!

Keekiri Awai, missing you with sorrow, thinking of you with nostalgia, remembering you with love.
Continue to bless us – Indu.K.Mallah

Happy Birthday Idiyammal Hethe. You look so bright and beautiful in the photograph. Your radiance is so transparent. Probably every wrinkle on your face has untold stories and events. May you live in the hearts of all Badaga women and keep blessing – Rajma