Monthly Archives: February 2017

Living it up on the wild side

from –   Feb 24, 2017

Living it up on the wild side

Sibi Arasu 

With access only through Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, a village in the Nilgiris has redefined peaceful man-animal coexistence

Soon after India’s Independence, the Badaga people of the Nilgiris were invited by the State to set up a farming cooperative on the foothills of the mountain range, alongside the Moyar river. This region, adjacent to the Moyar valley, is right in the heart of tiger and elephant country. There was no human inhabitation apart from the handful of Irular families that had lived here for centuries.

The Badagas took the plunge, putting to good use the 65 acres they were provided with to set up their habitat and another 500 acres of farmland. Growing a variety of crops — ragi, corn and pearl millets to begin with — as well as taking care of livestock, the tribe members developed a sustainable village in the middle of the forest.

Today, Thengumarahada has 700 families and the crop varieties have expanded to include banana, marigold and other cash crops. Human-wildlife conflict, especially due to droughts, extreme weather and the spread of invasive plants in the forests are a cause for concern but Thengumarahada has made the best of what it has.

While some old-timers still live here, the young are moving to the cities for education and livelihood. JKS Madhu, 49, whose family shifted here in his grandfather’s time, says, “Yes, many people are leaving. But this is great land. As they say, land is forever. I think the young will return when they see that what our village offers is more valuable than what you find outside the forests.”


How the Nilgiri natives coped with the Spring heat

Dharmalingam Venugopal

As Nilgiris real under heat and dust and acute water shortage, it may be useful to recall how the natives managed situation in the distant past. Besege, meaning surging heat , denotes the period between February and April in the local parlance. The period was so dry that a proverb states cynically, ‘If there is drop of rain in February-March, there will be no rain for six months’.

The Todas, Badagas and Kotas were well aware of the seasonal extremities and adopted themselves to the situation. The worst consequence of the heat was the drying up of the grasslands leaving the cattle without fodder. But the natives did not try to divert the streams or springs into the grasslands. Nor did they try to sink wells.

Adopting to climatic changes, they established emmaties (buffalo hamlets) on the slopes of the Nilgiris where, sheltered from the monsoon, grazing was temporarily available. Leaving the women and children in the villages, the men will drive the cattle to the emmaties and camp there for three months till the rains arrive. A 1871 survey map gives a list of such emmaties as ‘cattle pen’.  Most of such camping sites were abandoned by the early 20th century when the dependence of cattle declined.

The administration would do well to consider a temporary shutdown for hotels and other lodging places for a month or two so that the local population could adopt to the sweltering heat as best as they could. It will also help the administration to manage the summer rush which follows the heat.


Stop conducting marriages in Young Badaga Association Building

Appeal to The Commissioner,Ooty Municipality

Pray stop permission for conducting marriages in Young Badaga Association Building

The Young Badaga Association was started in 1960  for the welfare of the Badaga Community. As a good will gesture the government granted land to put up a building on Wenlock Road on a no-profit basis to serve the community needs.

However, over the years the building has been converted into a Marriage Hall. Thereby, not only violating the original objective of the Association but also violating the government rules governing functioning of Marriage Halls.

While Marriage halls are required to be away at least 100metres from educational institutions, YBA is right next to Heritage School. The conduct of marriages have been a major noise and health hazard to the students and the school.

  1. The law requires one parking space for every 20 square metres of marriage hall area. But the area available in YBA is very much in shortage. With the result, marriage events pose a severe problem to the police and public to manage traffic on the Wenlock Road.
  2. Wedding halls are forbidden for use by political parties. But currently YBA is run by office bearers who are card-holding party members.
  3. In a recent judgment the National Green Tribunal has ruled that Marriage Hall rules should be site-specific. In the circumstances, when Ooty town is bursting with tourist and local traffic, permitting marriages on a main thoroughfare is a clear violation of municipal rules.
  4. The norms for Food Safety, Fire Safety, installation of CCTV for crime control etc also do not appear to have been followed by YBA.

Therefore, in Public Interest, we request you to kindly institute immediate steps to inquire into this serious matter and till the inquiry are over order stoppage of

Dharmalingam, Venugopal

Shame on Young Badaga Association : Blot on Badagas

Shame on Young Badaga Association : Blot on Badagas

Dharmalingam Venugopal, Kannerimukku , 9444365360


In our humble efforts to reform YBA we met the district administration yesterday. Before that we went to YBA to submit our application for membership @ Rs.100 per head. The reception was pathetic. A bunch of our people, evidently party cadre, were sitting there whiling away their time. One ex-office bearer started blabbering nonsense trying to pick up an argument. We just ignored him.

The premises was a eye-sore and a health hazard. None of the shops in the complex seems to have been cleaned for ages and none seemed to be doing any business. Most of them were closed.

A lorry was cleaning up the garbage left over from the marriage the day before. I was appalled to know that in most of the marriages in YBA, the food served is non-vegetarian. Probably, the only Kalayana Mandapam in Ooty to serve non-vegetarian food!! So much for Badaga ‘Suddha’ and cleanliness !!!

Does the Badaga society needs such money to run its affairs?!!!!

No one was there to respond to our queries. There was only one new office assistant who was clueless about anything. We gave our number with a request to call us back once some office bearer comes. No one called back.

Shocking revelation
Our inquires with the administration was shocking and made us hang our heads in shame. The administration is well aware of all the violations of YBA. Only out of respect for the community the administration has been restraining itself from taking over YBA. In other words, the bunch of no-good Badagas pretending to ‘control’ and run YBA are doing so at the mercy of the administration. Even a modicum of self-respect as Badagas will make them see reality and change.

When the question was posed to us, ” Are there not at least a handful of good people, who are members, who can raise the issues of mismanagement and violations and bring reforms in YBA? we really had to hang our heads in shame.

The bottom line (pun intended !!) is this:If the Badagas will not clean their own shit, no one will !!!

An Appeal
We appeal to all distinguished and right thinking Badaga members of YBA to resign immediately to reform YBA. Your hesitation, reservation and reluctance will not be forgiven by future generations.

Badaga – a minor language of South India

Minor Languages of South India

– Dr.R.K.Haldorai


According to Dr.Caldwell, the well known Dravidian linguist, the two minor languages of the South India, Toda and Kota are uncultivated languages. He included the minor languages, Tulu and Kodagu into cultivated group. He mentioned very little about the Badaga language which is also a remarkable minor language of South India. Besides these languages Kurumba, Irula, Kasaba etc., are the minor languages spoken in South India. However, among these languages Tulu, Kodagu, and Badaga are the languages which have more number of speakers. The rest tend to be spoken by rather small group (in almost all the cases less than ten thousand speakers) of tribes often in isolated areas.

Tulu, Kodagu and Badaga are non tribal languages but not literary. These three languages are also ancient languages of South India and important members of the Dravidian group of languages. Including these three all the minor languages of south India have no scripts of their own.

Tulu is spoken in the region called Tulu Nadu lying on the west coast of South India, comprising the major sector of the district of South Kannara situated in the Karnataka State and the people whose mother tongue is Tulu are called Tuluvas. Kodagu is spoken in the hilly region of Kodagu district of Karnataka state and the people whose mother tongue is Kodagu are called Kodagas or Kodavas. Badaga is spoken in the hilly Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu and the people whose mother tongue is Badaga are called Badagas.

Badagas identify their living place, Nilgiris district as “naakku betta” i.e. (surrounded by) four hills, these groups are identified with their respective mother tongues. Speakers of these minor languages are seen in urban centers in South India. Sizeable speakers of these languages have migrated to the nearby places, especially cites of South India.

These languages themselves are interesting to study and the study of such languages is also important from the point of view of the culture, habits and the social attitudes. It is a matter of regret to note that most the speakers of minor languages do not know much about their own languages. Of course, their ability to talk is unquestionable. The need of the hour is, we should devise a mechanism that can induce these speakers to know about their own languages. These people feel that their languages are poor versions, as they have no written forms.

If there is a priority between written and spoken language, it is the spoken form which comes first and not the written form of language. It is to be kept in mind that spoken language precedes the written language historically. The written languages were once vogue in spoken forms only. Even the speakers of a written language learn to speak long before they learn to write. Linguists made it clear that unlettered language is no way inferior to any lettered language. The speakers of these languages should know that their language has still not attained the written form because of lack of their own enthusiasm.

Fortunately, these languages (Tulu, Kodagu and Badaga) are best described by linguists and others. Now, linguists are able to cope up with any language in the world, whether or not it has ever been written down. Indeed, this is one of the most beneficial aspects of modern linguistics. Therefore, it is wise to utilize the service of these scholars for the development of their own languages.

Most of the speakers of the minor languages are bilingual. Besides their home language, they speak the local official language pretty well. The official language of Tulu and Kodagu speakers is Kannada and Tamil is the official language of Badagas. Some time these people identify themselves with the speakers of official language, especially during meeting with outsiders. However, there is hardly any chance of them conversing in other language with their own men.

Kodagu speakers are surrounded by Kannada, a literary language and Tulu is surrounded by two major literary languages viz. Kannada and Malayalam. But the peculiarity is seen with the Badaga speakers, they are surrounded by three major literary languages viz. Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. Their habitation, the Nilgiris is situated in the place where these three languages are meeting. Fortunately, the official languages of these groups belong to the family of language (Dravidian) which their own languages belong. Hence, these people learn the official language with ease.

Most of the people think that spoken language has no grammar and they restrict grammar for the written language. But from the linguistics point of view, spoken language certainly has a grammar. It is to be noted that the foreign and Indian scholars produced good descriptive grammar of these languages and they have translates some of their songs, folk-stories, ballads, proverbs etc. Most of the scholars use Roman script with diacritical marks wherever found necessary for writing these languages. The modern linguistics devices alphabets for languages. In fact, it appears as a pretty good aid in combating illiteracy.

To our dismay, these activities are helping to the scholars and others as reference materials, but not properly utilized by the speakers of these languages. In many cases, the speakers of these languages do not know about these studies and its importance. However, it is well and good when these people evince interest in utilizing these studies.

More or less all these three languages are highly developed with rich vocabularies. Among these languages, Tulu is more refined and it is capable of expressing the most subtle shades of meaning in appropriate terms. The antiquity of Tulu goes back to the Sangam age of Tamil literature. Tulu has produced a good many number of dictionaries. Some books have been printed in Kannada script. In Kodagu too, there is some activity of writing by adopting the Kannada script. But in the case of Badaga, it is a matter of regret to note that almost there is no activity of writing so far. Unlike Tulu and Kodagu, Badaga speakers rarely use to write their mother tongue. Mostly they use Tamil for external connection.

For a longer period Badags was maintained under ambiguous status between a language and a dialect. Badaga was relegated by few scholars to the position of dialect of Kannada, a dominant literary language in the vicinity. The multi-lingual Nilgiri hills fascinated many eminent scholars. But due to the relegation to the position of a dialect might have left the Badaga language in lurch as the other languages like Toda Kota caught attention of many linguistic and anthropological scholars. Somehow, of late the Badaga is studied by international acclaimed scholars. At the same time few indigenous scholars too studied Badaga language and produced few reference materials.

In fact, Badaga is an independent language with antiquity matching if not surpassing the other literary languages. Earlier scholars expressed their views superficially on Badaga language with their little collected materials. However during the recent past, especially during the closing decades of 20th century scholars studied the Badaga language thoroughly and exposed its status as independent language.

Even a cursory study of the vocabularies of these languages will tell us that these languages have been languages of highly civilized communities from the earliest time. Kodagu and Badaga languages have a small number of Sanskrit words comparing with Tulu. The primitive indigenous words can present a vivid picture of the simple life of these ancient people. In fact, these languages preserved more of their archaic features and intensive study of them will certainly clarify several issues in their linguistic pre-history.

The importance of the study of non-literary language cannot be minimized. There is a vast amount of literature seen in Tulu and Kodagu. All these minor languages have got traditional oral literature which has to be collected and studied. In fact, the importance of the oral literature is great. Collection of folklore and the folk songs is an urgent task. The rapidly changing scenario will engulf all these things without leaving any trace if they are not documented in time.

The study of minor languages of the South India has spanned a period of nearly two centuries. But what has been done is meager and much remains to be done. Mostly missionaries and foreign scholars had written grammars and associated materials. Dravidian linguists, mostly university scholars collected vocabularies and other linguistic materials and they paved the way for writing down these languages. Among these minor languages only Badaga has to adopt a script to elevate its position as a lettered one. Good many Badaga dramas and songs were written in Tamil script during the last few decades. With this one can assume that attempt to make Badaga as a lettered language is already begun and resuming that will make it as a literary language.


Reform YBA ! Save Badagas !!

Dharmalingam Venugopal DV

[Kannerimukku, Kotagiri, 9444365360]

Reform Young BAdaga Association !  Save Badagas !!

One People ! One Voice !!

Onndu Makka ! Onndu Maathu !!

NOW OR NEVER !! Let winds of change blow in February !!!

Badaga Society is at a crossroads.  Tremendous progress on one side and backwardness on the other. Extreme prosperity on one side and deprivation on the other. Enlightenment  and achievement on one side and differences and divisions on the other.

There is only  one way to meet the challenges and march forward. We need to think and act as one.  We need to organize ourselves to meet the demands of a fast progressing Indian and global society. We need to respect the talents, aspirations and feelings of the new generation of Badaga youth.

We need an organization which is truly Participative and Representative. Failure of such an organization as already cost us dearly.

  1. We have lost our right to represent ourselves in parliament (Lok Sabha)
  2. We have lost our right for a separate identity (language)  in the census.
  3. We have lost our right as a Hill Tribe of Nilgiris
  4. We are losing our right as an Indigenous community of Nilgiris

How to reform YBA?

Starting a new association is needless. We must reform YBA which has roots in the pre-independence days. Some suggestions:

  • Make all adult Badagas (from the voter’s list) members compulsorily.
  • Membership fee to be made Rs. 100 for men and Rs.50 for women.     (Heththe kannike is 2 annas, Thappu kattudhu is Rs.100, Hatti vari is Rs.100 and  Honnu is Rs.200)
  • Make YBA non-political (member of any party cannot be office-bearer)
  • Age restriction of office-bearers (below 60)
  • Minimum qualification  for office bearers (graduates)
  • Residential qualification (full time resident of Nilgiris)
  • Make all past and present political leaders (representatives) Patrons
  • Make a Governing Body of 60 plus Distinguished Badagas
  • Do not involve traditional position holders  like Parpathis, Gowdas etc with YBA
  • Form separate committees for Library and Archives, Culture, History, Economy, Business enterprise, women, education etc.

Immediate action

This is a long and difficult process; but not a difficult one. Everyone must be patient  and work hard.

To start with, all elections to YBA must be put on hold indefinitely. Continuing with the elections in the present set up will only divide the community and dilute our efforts.

All peaceful, lawful,  legal and administrative efforts should be taken to prevent elections till the reforms are in place.

Membership Day

Let winds of change start blowing from the first of February. Let us mark February 10 as Mass Membership Day.

Why I want to lead the Reforms?

My simple desire to serve our community.

What does YBA stand for? A clarification.

I was sorry to learn that many think the name Young Badaga Association  means that it was started by the present office bearers when they were young. Nothing can be more ridiculous.

The origin of YBA dates before independence when Young Men Indian Association was started to mobilize youth for independence struggle. Inspired by that a handful of Badagas, then in Madras, started the Young Men Badaga Association in 1941-42 led by my uncle ( seated in kurta and dhoti) Andi Ramalingam, who was then working in Ananda Viketan.








Reform ! Participate !! Represent !!! Achieve !!!!

Dear Venu – I am with you hundred percent.

– Wg Cdr Bellie Jayaprakash