Burning Issues

[This article/page was published a few years back. But, most of the issues touched upon have a great relevance even today – Wg.Cdr JP]


Badagas as a Hill Tribe


Many Badagas are under the mistaken impression that if they are brought under the “Scheduled Tribe”, it is a degrading step. I do not think so. Badagas are one of the ‘ORIGINAL’ tribes of the Nilgiris along with Todas, Kothas and Kurumas.

The enormous improvements achieved by Badagas in all social factors, in spite of many impediments, should make us feel proud. This success is attributed to one SINGLE factor. Education. For that we must remember with gratitude the pioneer, visionary and philanthropist Rao Bahadur [Hubbathalai Jogi Gowder] Bellie Gowder who built the first School for Badagas – along with free hostel accommodation in Hubbathalai and his son Rao Bahadur HB Ari Gowder who fore saw that in educating a girl, indeed we are educating a family and hence insisted on education for girls and encouraged it fully.



‘Scheduled Tribe’ status for Badagas ?!

March, 2008 : Why the latest Tamil Nadu website, http://www.nilgiris.tn.gov.in/
on the Nilgiris is getting on my ‘goat’ is the fact that till recently Badagas were shown as a tribe along with Todas, Kothas, Kurumbas and others. In fact, the following photograph displayed in my website www.badaga.in [ see the page https://badaga.wordpress.com/badaga-dance/ ] was taken from that portal.

But the same has been removed from http://www.nilgiris.tn.gov.in/ now.
Mind you, calling Badagas as a separate tribe and included with others,does not automaticaly give the status of a schedule tribe. And hence, the champions among ourselves who are opposed to ST status, need not feel small
The above website of TN govt is accessed by many tourists mainly foreigners and they are agast not to find anything on or about Badagas.

Many readers may not know that Badagas were listed as a separate entity in the CENSUS till 1981 but after, that courtesy some idiots, Badaga are grouped under Kannada (speaking people). What this has done is the huge loss of information of knowing how many Badagas are there [along with all other details like literacy rate, gender wise population etc]. That, SIMPLY MEANS BADAGAS DO NOT EXIST.

What is highly hurting is the fact we have many Badagas including a minister, MLA, many ex-MPs & ex-MLAs who seem to do nothing. Can they not, ATLEAST, shoot out letters to all concerned ? Or, have they forgotten the fact that they are getting a fat pension because of us? I know of an EX-MP who writes to the local police station every now and then emphasising the EX-FACTOR when it comes to grabbing others land for her own kith, but does nothing about the community welfare.

What about the many self appointed leaders of Badaga community, including ex-MLAs, who claim that they are very close to the DMK party leadership ? Why can’t they initiate some action and show the same enthusiasm when they ‘fleece’ the public for money in the name of donation for the party [but lining their own pockets]?

What about many senior government officers, including the only IAS officer who can influence the party in power to take some action ? Firstly, the IAS officer should correct his mother tongue being Badaga and NOT as Tamil as is given in the government official info { a fact I have mentioned in FIRST BADAGA also}.

It is a well known fact that late Rao Bahadur HB Ari Gowder would seek an immediate appointment, to highlight the problems concerning Badagas, with the Collector as well as the State ministers of his time including the great Rajaji who was the CM. Do you know that Rajaji had to apologise to Ari Gowder when he (Rajaji) was delayed for an appointment and Ari Gowder, as MLA, threatened to walk out. I believe, many Collectors of the Nilgiris, would not only address Ari Gowder’s concern expressed over the phone but would consult him on any issue on Badagas.

The local correspondent [for the Nilgiris] of one of the most widely read national news papers of India, ‘THE HINDU’ is a Badaga. Can we request him to highlight this issue in his columns?

Why are we keeping quiet ? Why are we behaving like ‘HEBBATHES’ – cockroaches- running away from light and hiding ourselves in darkness??

Badagas under Schedule Tribes ???

I have very strong views on this subject. Before I elaborate on them, I feel that we should first of all be identified as BADAGAS which is not the case as SANTHOSH has rightly mentioned in www://badaga.com “. . our community’s name is not in the list of communities under the BC category. In fact, it is not mentioned under any of the categories.”

I also agree with the views of ‘bhojvija’ who feels that ST tag for Badagas is humiliating…
“…Badagas living in cities and doing/completed education in cities and are upper middle class family and for them it’s not at all a matter if Badagas are non ST. But we have to talk about our entire badaga community. For example an SC/ST guy simply getting govt job if he passed just degree. And government providing more facilities like scholarship, free hostel, books, notebooks etc… In our community so many have stopped their education due to lack of economical support and their entire life style also has been changed as they have to work just as ordinary labourers…. “.

Most of us feel that getting ST status is demeaning and meant mainly for getting admissions to educational institutions and getting jobs easily. The truth could be entirely different.

Even in our own district of the Nilgirs, do you know that we are not taken as a separate community as BADAGAS but are clubbed with other non tribals??? That is one of the reasons why the exact number of Badags is not available? When census is taken Badags are clubbed under Kannadigas / others.

I am afraid ,if this sad state of affair continues, after a few years, we will come under the “extinct” community.

Being from an above average Badaga family – economically [God’s grace], having done my professional studies of engineering and business administration etc and having served in the defence services and having mostly lived in big cities like Delhi, Bangalore & Madras for the past forty odd years or educating my children in the elitist schools, colleges and now abroad, I had no occasion to seek the tag of BC.

BUT.. yes this is a big ‘but’ [no pun intended]…


  1. First, we should be identified as a separate group as BADAGAS like Todas, Kothas,Kurumas etc when the people(tribes) of the Nilgiris are referred to.
  2. For the larger good of the community, Badagas should get the ST status for the benefits available are too many to go into detail.

Nearly eighty years back, Nakku Betta Leader, Rao Bahadur (Rao Sahib then) Bellie Gowder on whose invitation the Governor of then Madras Province visited Hubbathalai Village was presented a memorandum on the Hill Tribes of Nilgiris which included Badagas, Todas & Kothas. In a grand cultural show organised on that eve Badaga dance was presented [by school boys] in their ‘DODDA KUPPACHA”.


Rao Bahadur Bellie Gowder, incidentally, was not only the leader of Badagas but represented as leader of all the tribes of Nilgiris (a relatively remote hilly & jungle area and unexplored at that time). The folder he presented to the British Governor, on the occassion of his vist to Hubbathalai [on the invitation of Rao Bahadur Bellie Gowder] containg some rare photos of all the tribes of Nilgiris INCLUDING BADAGAS

Badagas as a Hill Tribe

What do you think?


Let us be FAIR to the fair gender

As I sit down to ponder over the ‘burning issues’ that are bothering the Badaga Community, three issues pop up as very important. The FIRST one is the inequality with which we seem to be treating our women today. Though, this malaise is affecting all the communities in our country, I am concerned that the Badagas who treated their women folk with so much respect and love in the olden days, are slowly but surely pushing them into the second class citizens category.

In earlier days, the girls were married off at a much younger age [Kannu Hoottadha Henga] but with the firm understanding that they [the girls] could seek divorce at any time if there was matrimonial disharmony and that they would be accepted back into the society without any blame and reservation. Getting married again was no big issue. She, always, had the backing of her parents and her brothers as ‘guru mane’ gave unflinching support in all respects mainly financial. This was probably the main reason that the girl children were not given any share in the property.

Being brought up in an atmosphere where complaining and cribbing were not considered as routine, the Badaga women accepted life as it came and were always ready to sacrifice their own comforts. But then, the Badaga men, at least a majority of them, were, also, simple and hard working. Then came the curse of ‘drinking’. And with that, the problems and troubles of Badaga woman increased many fold and took a dramatic turn for the worse. The men folk took full advantage of the vulnerable nature of the women who had the additional burden of bringing up the children. Here, it must be mentioned that a Badaga girl was expected to be pregnant within a few months of marriage and invariably, there was a child to ‘celebrate’ the first wedding anniversary. Followed, of course, with many more children. “Mane thumba Makka” – House full of children – was part of the ‘blessing – Harakkay’.

This put the women in a very disadvantageous position. With many children, divorce was not a choice. Thus, they accepted suffering without complaints.

Education changed the fundamental thinking of girls. Though still faced with the compulsion of early marriage, many girls accepted ‘two children per family’ norm as the best option. But, there was and is still discrimination when it came to giving them share of property. The present law of the land is clear. Girls should get EQUAL share of the property.

The Badaga thinking, mainly mandated and manipulated by men, has found the clumsy excuse of not giving share of the property to the girl children by quoting outdated traditions. This is the problem.

I am convinced that one of the most important and burning issues facing us today is GIVING EQUAL SHARE TO THE GIRLS AS THE BOYS. I am firmly of the view that we have to resolve that we will give equal share to the girls if we have to save our community from falling into disgrace. Let us take that resolution, HERE and NOW.

Wing Commander Bellie Jayaprakash B.E.(GCT,Madras Univ).,M.B.A (FMS, Delhi Univ)
Contact : bjaypee@gmail.com





24 responses to “Burning Issues

  1. jeyashankar.A.C

    Dear sir,
    I sincerely appreciate the effort taken by you to serve our community and our tradition,from my point of view I think as days go by I doubt that there will be a place in Ooty as called a hatty with the traditional values and only will find mega structures as called resorts and hotels where all our relatives would be employed in the structures built by outsiders on our own land which has been inherited from grand grand parents.In view of saving our culture i request our community leaders to take a harsh step wherein the hatties are safe guarded and not allowed to be sold to outsiders and property developers.PROUD TO BE BADAGA


  2. Your badaga brother-Arun

    I followed a few articles and blogs of our culture in terms of marrying other caste girl/boy. We have to understand that there is a fine line between caste and emotions and life.

    My brother married another caste girl few years back. We both are abroad. Since my brothers other caste marriage my hatty people kept us separate from the village and community which was really painful for my parents inspite of my dad and mum living there for years. Few months back my dad and mum both were hospitalized due to terminal illness. So my wife (badaga girl) and my brother wife (non badaga girl) both went to India to serve my parents. We were there for a short while because we had to travel back so that we can financially support the family. And recently my mom died in the hospital and when they were about to reach hatty the people stopped the vehicle from entering the hatty where we had to wait for more than 5 hours in the road with my mums body. After that my dad had to ask sorry (in spite of his situation) to the hatty people in order to let my mum’s cremation to be taken over. And my sister in law was told not to come into the village wherein she was the one who took care of my mum during her last few days. And now when we are awaiting for my dads visa still the hatti people are not allowing my sis-in-law to enter the village and there is no one with my dad except my wife and we are abroad trying to sort my dads visa. Amidst of my mums death the hatty CASTE rules literally emotionally killing us. My sister-in-law in staying someone else house in another place. All we can do is to rent a house in the town leaving our beloved house and memories of my mum and the lovely days we lived together in the hatty house.

    I know there are quite a few people in the blog may say that whatever happened is us is fair without understand the emotions and still sticking on to the CASTE system which really hurts.

    Is there an answer to my questions? I know there are quite in large number of well educated people who have lived away from hatty who can understand and can reply me. This is not happening only to me but for quite a few men/women in our hatty’s. From what I know is that we people are good in sharing love and kindness to everyone but not to hurt the fellow brother/sisters feeling. We are not in a state to shed anymore tears :-(.

    Your brother/son


  3. gopalakrishna kari

    I think the major issue now is the marriage for badaga boys because boys dont get the right choice for their marriage and they get interested in other caste girls so I think all Badaga organisations should have a serious look at this problem and come out with the right decision….if I spoke anything wrong just spare me!

    No, you have not spoken anything wrong Goplakrishna, there is plenty of truth in what you are saying – Wg Cdr JP



    A very good morning to all who come across my words,

    Though there exists many problems in our community I thought something apart from these problems in a way that which we can help others. Why don’t we initiate organ donation in our hatty’s??? As we all know many people around us suffer from various disability we cannot cure everything but we can cure which is possible. Why should we let our organs waste for nothing. I know that it is individuals wish on donating, i hope its nothing wrong in creating awareness in our hatty’s about this and making it mandatory. It was just my thought and I request all to think over it to take initiative what can we do for this society? Really its a very small thing and we should be proud that we are in need even after death.

    Not only this, there are many its just a beginning!

    Have a great day.


  5. My views regarding the above comments.

    First regarding karthick, i wil better say go ahead with your idea. Compatibility is a big issue with all the communities. If you are sure that you have good understanding with the girl, nothing should bother you. Marriage is the biggest burning issue in badagas. As youngsters are well educated and have more exposure, its common to fall in love with another community person. 10 to 20 is the growth period and 20 to 30 is the fertile peroid in a human life. But today there are lot of 30 plus badaga girls and boys yet to get married. Just think what will happen to all in another 5 to 10 years?.. Marriage is an important aspect in a person’s life, without marriage life never gets fullfilled, but at the same time it should not happen for namesake and run around for divorce. I am not against our culture, it has to be preserved, but not at the cost of our life. As someone quoted, did we forget badaga after learning english????

    To our respected elders and the chairpersons of YBA, its time for you people to think hard and do some reforms in our society regarding marriages and functionality in our community. India is reeling under recession in financial terms and our community is reeling under marriage recession. Polictics has intruded all the villages and has affected us badly, forget about who rules the country and think about how to solve the issues in our community. i dont know how many of you know about the arrest of 200 plus people from our community in tirupur, i dont want to discuss in detail. Elders please think in a practical manner, LIVE AND LET OTHERS LIVE.

    its good to see many from our community work in IT and R&D fields, but for the people in our villages, mother nature has given us abundance of oppurtunities in our own place. Cost of labor, fertilizer price, and el nino has affected agriculture and tea farming very badly. Let us be smart, try alternate crops like jatropha curcus or croton, these are cash crops used to extract biodiesel. i learnt that an acre can produce 3000 ltrs of biodiesel per year and cost of 1 liter is 34. It is grown extensively in nagaland and burma, so i think it should adapt our climate condition (any agri experts, pls share your thought). Dairy farming is another option for us. Than working in places like tirupur and get lured by others for money, its better to try some alternative crops in our own place.


  6. Hi , i am a Badaga living abroad and i dont want to reveal my identity. I want to marry a higher caste Hindu girl whom i am in love with… is that possible in our community. What are the obstacles and consequences for me ?


    • Dr Krishnan Rajkumar

      Dear Karthik,
      I am visiting this site after a long time and saw your comment. If two people are in love, nothing should matter. Obstacles will come from everywhere; parents, your hatti people and relatives and issues with your future offspring(s) etc. This should not deter you from doing what you feel happy about, that is getting married to the girl you love. After all you only have one life to live and make it count.

      But what is disturbing is your mention of caste and religion. You are already feeling inferior (by describing the girl to be from a higher caste) and what gave you the idea that we badagas are inferior to others? Sadly, lack of self confidence and feeling inferior seem to be running deep in the badaga community. If you feel you are marrying someone because you are embarrassed to marry a badaga girl, then it is totally a bad idea.

      This is a personal issue and you are better off discussing this with both set off parents which is more important than mentioning it here on this website.

      Best Wishes


      • Dr Krishnan Rajkumar , Thanks for your reply. I am not mentioning caste and religion to raise or supress anyone. I wanted to give a clear picture of my situation as our community s highly conservative. I neva considered ourselves inferior. Hoping for the best. 🙂


      • Your badaga brother-Arun

        Hello Gopalkrishnan Kari Sir,

        Please read through my above post and give your honest comments. I am just awaiting someone to reply to my grieving post.

        Highly appreciate your thoughts Kumar. We badaga’s need more practical people like you. ” LIVE AND LET OTHERS LIVE” is something we all have to start accommodate in our mind.

        Dear Dr. Krishnan,

        I would like you to have a read through my post below regarding my family situation right now in out hatty. Hope someone from our Badaga brothers can help our family from literally killing ourselves from our CASTE system.



  7. Just had a glimpse of the site and its really wonderful and amazing that we have an identity in the e-world which is remarkable .. I just went through some of the burning issues and all were genuinely right .. but I feel there is also a concern to be raised when it comes to justice disparity between the rich and the poor in hatti gatherings .. most of the time the decision is based on the status … the problem here I would like to emphasis is people of our community are too good in knowing what is good and bad but they dont have the courage to go against a wrong decision at many hatti gatherings … its totally dominated by a finger counted so called big people namely hatti gowda, his relatives and friends .. there are lot of examples i could qoute bt people should understand this … PLS BE COURAGE ENOUGH TO FIGHT INJUSTICE …THINK BROAD AND HELP FELLOW PEOPLE WITHOUT SENSE OF JEALOUSY …

    Thanks for the comments and I am 100% in agreement with you. Unless we, the ‘ahm’ people change our mind set that ‘might is always right’, we cannot call ourselves as ‘developed people – JP


    • I have been reading about Badaga after seeing a ad for a plot/house being offered by Artha property. I was interested as i am looking to buy a plot on Kerala’s borders . I feel the ST issuse should be left to the politicians who have no other work. Badagas seem to focus on education and everyone should focus on development of village. With your education,culture, food, and climate you can build an excellant eco friendly project for tourists. Look at sustainable development by involving the local community so that the benefits percolates to the deprived.


  8. m.bharathy (boodhimani)

    No other culture is best as ours….for example.. there are no beggers in Badagas….I am proud to be a Badage


  9. M.KARUNAKARAN (Karakorai)

    Day to day we find our culture and community getting vanished. Why dont the government help to keep our culture alive?


  10. vinoth.R (Billicombai)

    it is very important to maintain our culture in the 21st century… if we get back the status of Schedule Tribe, then our future generation could remember about our culture, … otherwise our culture and community will slowly vanish…
    lets take what ever the risk it comes…


  11. Ashok Bellan’s comments under ‘Badaga Songs on the web’ have been shifted here. He says,

    ” Namashkara. As I see most informative topics in this website regarding Badaga people and their origin, there is some information which states that badaga people belong to “Schedule tribes” and some leading organizations, for ex . Badaga association leaded by Dr. Kullan and others are fighting for the right . What is your opinion about this information . Can we Have a discussion on this so that we have input from various people?’

    I have given my opinions in the article.


  12. In fact many of us share the same sentiments as Sivakumar. It is a pity that many Badagas have to migrate to far away lands to make both ends meet, leaving behind their beloved families.
    Hopefully the young and educated Badagas will realise the gravity and take the road towards their roots!!

    JP adds ; I share Sumathi’s & Sivakumar’s sentiments fully ! Are you listening ?


  13. I happened to visit Tirupur a few months ago while i was in India. Hope a person like you who has wide knowledge knows whats happening to all our badaga people who has shifted residence for a living. There are worst scenes there. I had no control over tears that night.Will this type of situation for our kind community prolong? Will there be any measureable steps taken to improve the cost of the tea and bring them back home for a better and normal living? There are a hundred questions for which i try to answer myself. My intuition says people have already made use of our innocence. They have already robbed us off our basic rights. I can t end this but I have no option left.


  14. Thank you so much Mr.Jp for the wonderful message. this the time for all of us to have an eyeopener about the diseases and take preventive measures. Let the innocense of deadly disease get rid and let the light of knowlege over come all the darkness. Please try to post as much news like this to educate our community.
    Let your journey be a holistic one.
    with prayers


  15. Thank you Sivakumar from UAE for your passionate comments. Incidentally, Dr. Rajkumar Krishnan (married to my niece – Beeki Vinitha) who is in India on a short vacation, spent a couple of days with us here at Bangalore. During our long sessions of discussions on Badaga, brought out some ‘startling’ facts to light based on his research. One such factor is the need to undergo blood tests by the [young badaga] would be husband and wife to eliminate the remote possibility of genetic diseases like ‘sickle cell syndrome’ that the offsprings may be forced to have. The three diseases he mentioned are the ones that are usually seen when marriges take place within close relatives. This topic needs a lot more serious introspection and study for, though we may not admit, there are large cases of cancer and other blood related genetic diseases among Badagas.


  16. Thank you JP for the priceless work you have done. It is really heartening to see one Dr.Rajkumar (Naihatti) from UK sharing his concern over our community. Let this be an eye opener for each and everyone around the world to know about our deep love and concern we have towards other living beings.I am working here in UAE but from yesterday I still find time to open your website and see atleast two posts/pages and learn a lot about our customs etc. Unimaginable. With lots of love and prayers to our community


  17. Amazing , astounding!! For the first time I have felt proud to be a badaga person after seeing this blog. I wish my comments appear here and also wish that this has to reach each and every one in which ever corner they live in. Be proud to be and Indian and next is our soul slogan BE PROUD TO BE BORN IN BADAGA COMMUNITY. Hats off and KUDOS to the ones who have taken initiatives to do such a wonderful job.

    JP adds : Thank you very much for such wonderful and encouraging comments. By the way, there is only one person -yours truly – responsible for this site.


  18. Gnanasekar (Arun)

    helloo all,
    dodda avakaa, kuna avaka ellagaa…..

    It should not simply be in words that “i am proud to be a badagan”. there should be a common goal, a great leader like Ari Gowder, and every body should work towards it.


  19. I think another burning issue that does not seem to have been raised as a serious concern by Badagas is the gradual de-forestation of our beautiful land. There is no restriction on construction work and buildings which are a sight for sore eyes are springing up everywhere. The sorrowful aspect is, our lands and houses are bought by people from the plains and other states while badagas seems to be moving out. Our municipality/ NGOS government needs to take action like in Kodaikanal to prevent large builders and so called land developers from spoiling the beauty of our land. Mr. Dharmalingam Venugopal has made a move in the right direction by highlighting it in the Sunday magazine section recently. In spite of the Nilgiris biosphere reserve being in existance, there is much more to be done to ensure that we leave our beautiful land intact for the future generations. As the wise American Indian saying goes “We have not inherited the land from our forebearers but have borrowed it from our grandchildren.”


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