Category Archives: badaga


BADAGA SCRIPT – BADAGA BARAE [படக பரே – எழுத்து ]

[படக மொழியை எப்படி எழுதலாம்?]

It has always been felt that for a language to survive, it should have its own script. It cannot remain only as a spoken language for long. But of course, the script need not be peculiar and specific one pertaining to that particular language.

So too is the necessity of a script for Badaga. Many have attempted to achieve this objective with various degrees of success. But unfortunately, to my knowledge, no records exists, if any. I am no expert on phonetics or languages or much less innovating a unique script. But the urge to have a separate script has convinced me that it is very much possible to ‘ADOPT’ an existing script and ‘ADAPT’ it to Badaga language.

Three scripts come to mind straight away – Tamil, English and Kannada.Tamil – because a majority of us know how to speak and write due to the simple fact that we belong to Tamil Nadu, English – since most of us choose to learn as well as put our children in English medium schools and Kannada – due to the fact that Badaga is more akin to Kannada than any other language [though I firmly believe that Badaga is a separate language on its own merit and not a dialect of Kannada].

But when trying to choose a script for Badaga, Kannada script is ruled out for the basic reason that most of us do not know the language or familiar with the script and no scope to learn it in our schools in the Nilgiris. Hence the choice between Tamil and English. Badaga ,like many other Indian languages, has very definitive and distinctive sounds/words [I do not know the exact English equivalent] that distinguishes one word from another. Even a small change in pronunciation could result in an entirely different meaning in Badaga. For example, a subtle change in context of the word ‘BAE [bay]‘ could mean mouth, bangle, lentil, crop etc. Bella – பெல்ல [jaggery] or BeLLa – பெள்ள [ a male name] are two entirely different things. So are ‘kallu கல்லு – stone’ and ‘KaLLu கள்ளூ – a drink’. So, what could or should be the choice?

In Tamil script we cannot differentiate ‘K’ from ‘G’ or ‘T’ from ‘D’. This makes a  huge impact when Badaga words are written in Tamil script. ‘Gaasu – potato’ is totally different from ‘Kaasu – coin, remove’. Or ‘Ettu – eight’ and ‘Eddu – getup’. Another drawback could be the absence of ‘Ha’ in classical Tamil. On the other hand, in English, we cannot clearly bring out the difference of ‘na’ from ‘Na’ [anna – அன்ன food, aNNa – அண்ண elder brother] or ‘halli – ஹல்லி  lizard’ from ‘haLLi – ஹள்ளி name, village’. ‘Kalla கல்ல – a male name’ sounds the same as ‘ kaLLa கள்ள – a thief.

Yes, it is indeed a little tricky to choose between Tamil and English. But, taking into consideration the younger generation who are going to be the future hope and the irrefutable fact that they are all more familiar with English than Tamil, the choice is English. Keeping in mind the successful adaptation of English script for Malay language (Malaysia) I would plump in for English. With a few minor modifications to overcome the grey areas mentioned above, English script can be easily used in Badaga.

Remember Devanagiri (Hindi) is the script for Nepali. The ‘minor’ modifications that can be undertaken to overcome the drawbacks I referred above could be by using an extra ‘a’ – thus milk can be written as ‘haalu ஹாலு’; ‘dhadi தடி – stick’ can be different from ‘dhaadi தாடி – beard’. So on and so forth.

We may use ‘capital’ letters to differentiate between ‘bella and beLLa ’ as I have done above. What if a complete sentence is in capital letters ? – We may use ‘bold’ letters or underline the words to give the emphasis. Innovative use of – ‘ – [apostrophe] can bring out the difference between “soppu  ஸொப்பு – green ” and “so’ppu ஸோப்பு – soap” or “kodi கொடி – flag” and “ko’di கோடி – crore”. [I have used for Tamil transliteration. Google Input Tools online is another great util for Tamil to English and vice versa]

It is said that Indians [read Badagas] will reject 50% of anything without even hearing it, another 50% without understanding it; and if ‘anything’ is left behind they reject it just for the sake of rejecting it. Like what is happening in many hattis with ‘young gowdas’ ruling the roost.



(first appeared in my blog )


Badagas at the Cross Roads

Badagas at the cross roads, need to change with changing times

Recently (on the 10th and 11th Feb 2018),  a seminar was organised by The Nelikolu Charitable Trust at Coimbatore. The seminar was called “Nangava Nanga Arivo – Let us know about ourselves”. This is to make a select group of scholars/youngsters to present their views on issues concerned/connected with Badaga, both the people and language.

This topic is most appropriate and needed focussed attention.

We Badagas stand at the cross roads, at a crucial time in history. Some of the urgent issues that we face today, if not corrected now, will result in reducing us to history.

I chose to speak on “Badagas at the cross roads, need to change with changing times

Some of the issues I touched upon are

1.Who are Badagas?
The similarity, differences or otherwise of the Badaga, Odaiya and Thoraiya groups,

2. What is Badaga origin?
The myth, mystery and mistakes of migration from Mysore theory.

3. Badaga language.
The decline of the purity of Badaga language due to inadequate knowledge of the present generation. The systematic omission of HA sound from the language and its impact. The influence of Tamil and English on Badaga in the day to day conversations.

4. Moray system
Is the Moray system playing a major role in the large number of marriages breaking up? Is it time to change the fundamentals?

5. Need to involve the women as equal partners
No elaboration is required about this issue when we consider ourselves as HETHE MAKKA

6. Music, Dance, Chant and keeping the traditions
The originality of our music and dance is lost in the present day blind copying of cinema ‘koothattam’ dances. Are we cutting short the important traditions/rituals like funerals due to paucity of time?

7.Way forward
What we should do?

8. Conclusion
What we know about Badagas is much less than what we do not know

I will elaborate on each of these issues soon – Wg.Cdr.JP


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Nanga – WE


It is a simple message. Nanga – that means in Badaga – WE . 

A noble and laudable movement started by Maniganda (from Kodumudi) and a bunch of volunteers with the object of bringing the Badaga community together.


And by making vegetable and provisions available to the community at an affordable prices and delivery at door steps,

And by luring away the youth and elders from the deadly drinks,

And eliminate the villagers from the scourge of Kandu Vatti (borrowing money from ruthless money lenders at exorbitant interest rates),

And to see the Bagada Dance in all its glory like in the golden olden days instead of the street dance it has degenerated into,

And to encourage Badaga songs rendered like Kerban bella Gowder and Thangadu L Krishna Gowder,

And, to see a community that is prosperous without poverty.

Noble, laudable and lofty.

Doable, insists Maniganda who had come to invite me for the function NANGA _ HABBA (Our Festival) at Nattakkal on 26 Dec 2017.

(Will post a detailed discussion I had with him soon)

After 46 years of the Great Badaga leader  Hubbathalai Ari Gowder, have we found a selfless leader in Manigandan, who can bring the community together?




Badagas are Indigenous People of Nilgiris

Who is Keystone to say Badagas are not Indigenous People of Nilgiris ?

by D.Venugopal (Nilgiris Documentation Center)DV

This question should have been asked a long time ago. But no one did. But if this question is not raised now, the consequences for the Nilgiri society could be disastrous.

This is exactly the point I made last week in the UN Global Mountains Meeting at Rome. I said foreign funded projects in mountain areas in developing countries like India often, not always, cause more harm than good. The examples I gave:

  • Indo-German Project came in the 1970s to kill potato pests but it killed potatoes in the Nilgiris
  • One foreign fund funds planting of Eucalyptus under Social Forestry. Another foreign fund funds destruction of Eucalyptus because they are invasive!!


Hindu, Christian and Mohammedan charities have been doing yeomen service in the Nilgiris for hundreds of years in the field of education, old age care, handicapped care etc.

However, since the 1980s when Nilgiris began to face environmental, economic and demographic problems, outsiders from the district have set up so called Non –Governmental Organizations in the name of helping the poor and tribal populations.

Their credentials, competence and sincerity is unknown. Often they co-opt vulnerable local personalities just to build their local credibility. Some of them may be doing good work. But most of these NGOs have their own agendas which have proved to be detrimental to the welfare of the district.

These NGOs are answerable only to their donors who are mostly foreign funds . We cannot understand how they, with a few young girls from outside Nilgiris and India mostly for their staff, decided what is good for Nilgiris and its people. There have been widespread allegations that some of these NGOs corrupt district officials including the head of the district to push through their projects.

The most serious issue is the question of Indigenous People of Nilgiris. The Keystone NGO with its offices on a steep hill in Kotagiri has decided on its own that the Indigenous People Nilgiris are Kurumba, Irula, Kasava, Vettikadu Irula, Urali , Kota and Toda communities. The Badagas are excluded.

In the name of these ‘Indigenous Peoples’ they have been receiving lakhs and crores of funds from foreign sources with the pretentions of developing them.

We have no issues with NGOs like Keystone. We only ask them to show us what evidence they have that shows all other communities are indigenous and Badagas are not indigenous.

The Nilgiri Documentation Centre has been documenting the history, culture and economy of Nilgiris for over 30 years. We have found no evidence that suggests that Badagas are not an indigenous people.

According to Government of India’s current stand , the government has accepted the concept of Indigenous People as declared by the United Nations but the process of identifying the indigenous peoples are yet to begin. So who are Keystone to decide who is indigenous and who is not indigenous in the Nilgiris?

What is shocking about their audacity is that they have their offices in Kotagiri, which is the heartland of Badaga activism and have the temerity to indulge in such misleading propaganda just to earn quick and questionable money from misguided forging funders.

I have only touched the tip of the iceberg. I would like all the Nilgiri people to react to this and suggest what actions can be taken to stop such dangerous activities which are a threat to the Nilgiri society.

Anthropologists have recorded that the coexistence of the native people of Nilgiris is an exemption to the entire humanity. Others who have come up to the Nilgiris in the last two hundred years after British rule have also become part of that exceptional society.

Who are these petty NGOs like Keystone to break up this proverbial peace and harmony for the filthy lucre?

Every Nilgirian should write to the District Administration to investigate this scandal and set matters right before it is too late!!

We agree with the views of Venugopal fully – Wg.Cdr.JP

………But my conclusion from all this is that, even with such a sketchy history, we can conclude that the Badagas are indigenous to the Nilgiri Hills in precisely the same way the English are indigenous to Britain; and the length of time in their abode has no particular bearing on that indigeneity. The Badagas today have no cultural roots outside the District, which is also true of the Kotas and Todas, and it is in this sense that all three communities are indeed indigenous. – Prof: Paul Hockings in reply to Venugopal’s views



NCMS honours Ari Gowder’s family

Nilgiri Co-operative Marketing Society (NCMS)  was started by HB ARI GOWDER  at Ooty and Mettupalayam to help the farmers of the district to market their produce without middle men about a 90 yrs back. It became one of the best cooperative societies in the country. 


On his 125th birth anniversary, 4th December 2017, NCMS team lead by the Mrs.J.Neela   honoured the members of Ari Gowder family at his bungalow at Mount Pleasant, Coonoor with sweets and shawls [ponnadai]. The team consisted of Mrs.Neela, Mr.Mohanram (Secretary), Mr.Shanavas (General Manager – Business), Mr.Ravi (Head clerk), Mrs.Santhi (Chief Accountant), Mr.Venkatraj, Mrs.Sumathi Devi (Accountants), Mr.Anand, Mr.Gopinath and Mr.Chandran (staff).

Ari Gowder Family (Daughter in law Mrs.Rukmani Bhojraj, grand daughter Mrs.Tara, nephew and husband of Tara, Wing Commander Jayaprakash and great grandson Ari (named afer Ari Gowder)



Ari Gowder family is extremely grateful to the Managing Director and other members for their honour and visit to their house in Coonoor


Tribute to a great Badaga Leader

Today is HB Ari Gowder’s 125th birth Anniversary

Ari Gowder2

Ari Gowder

He was an undisputed leader of Badagas. It is accepted, with a tinge of sadness that there is no Badaga who has taken his mantle in leading the community even after 47 yrs after his demise in 1971.

Today is HB Ari Gowder’s 125th birth Anniversary. He was the eldest son of Rao Bahadur [Hubbathalai Joghigowder] Bellie Gowder and [Jakkadha] Nanji in 1893.

Apart from being the first Badaga graduate and leading the Indian contingent for the world scouts jamboree in 1932 at Hungary, he brought many far reaching reforms in the Badaga community. He fore saw the importance of equality of women and the education of girl child. He encouraged Badaga girl students to go abroad in 1960s both on student exchange programmes and study tours.

Another great reform he was keen on was, equal share of property to both sons and daughters. This he ensured by setting a personal example and leaving behind a registered Will. His property was equally divided to his daughter in law, two grand daughters and a grand son, accordingly.


Ari Godwer’s family puts on record its deep appreciation and gratitude to NCMS President Mr.L.Kannapiran and other committee members for celebrating the 125th birth anniversary

[See the page on Ari Gowder here]



Wikipedia link



Nilgiri Activist Venugopal to attend Global Meet on Mountains

Nilgiri Activist Venugopal to attend Global Meet on Mountains

Nilgiri Documentation Director, Dharmalingam Venugopal has been invited to attend the UN Mountain Partnership Global Meeting at the Head Quarters of Food and Agriculture Organization at Rome, Italy from December 11th to 14th, 2017.

DV Coinciding with International Mountain Day and the 15th anniversary of the Mountain Partnership, the Global Meeting will raise awareness of the need to place mountain ecosystems and peoples at the centre of international negotiations, policies and investments.

The Global Meeting will launch a Framework for Action to support concrete actions to strengthen the resilience of mountain peoples and environments.

It will also aim to ensure that sustainable mountain development is integrated into the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and in the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Almost one billion people live in mountain areas, and over half the human population depends on mountains for water, food and clean energy. Yet mountains are under threat from climate change, land degradation, overexploitation and natural disasters, with potentially far-reaching and devastating consequences, both for mountain communities and the rest of the world.

The Mountain Partnership is an official United Nations partnership and international voluntary alliance dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments around the world.

Currently its membership comprises, 58 governments, 7 Subnational Authorities, 16 International Organizations and 237 Major Groups from civil society, NGOs and the private sector.

India is a new member of the Mountain Partnership. NDC is the only member from south India.

Small Mountains

“I have already launched a campaign to make the Global Meeting inclusive by giving due attention to Small, Significant and Sensitive mountains like the Nilgiris” says Venugopal and adds that “several members have expressed their support to the campaign”.

“We need to push for inclusiveness of all mountain regions,  which have major and neglected needs”, Mr. Andrew Taber, Executive Director of The Mountain Institute, USA and a key organizer of the Global Meeting had said in a mail sent  to Venugopal.

 “UN recognition of the significance and problems of mountains like Nilgiris will greatly help in drawing central and state government attention to the issues” according to Venugopal and recalled how the timely UNESCO recognition to the Nilgiri Mountain Railway rescued the Heritage Train from closure.

(Venugopal is from Kannerimukku Village)