Ooty’s Coovam of despair

World Environment Day

 Ooty’s Coovam of despair

 Dharmalingam Venugopal

 The Kodappamund channel, equivalent of the Coovam canal of Chennai, has been at the core of Ooty’s environmental problems defying any solution.
The Kodappamund channel runs for a length of 5.5km of which 3.06 km is within the Ooty town.  It is the only source of water to the 20 ha Ooty lake. The channel is also the only storm water drainage in the town.

However, in reality the channel has become one of the largest dumping yard of the country carrying the waste of millions of tourists and locals.

The much abused channel has the potential for an unprecedented environmental disaster in terms of pollution and landslides. The channel could become the death knell of the ‘sweet half-English Neilgherry air’ as  eulogized by Poet Tennyson.

39 years ago, the channel was the cause of 1978 Ooty floods which altered the world famous face of Ooty forever.

Since then the channel has become the carrier of open sewage in the town gradually choking the Ooty lake. A government report concedes, ‘Earlier, under National Lake Conservation Plan, remediation of the Ooty lake was successfully done by the Public Works Department. But, due to the continued letting in of sewage water, the quality of water has deteriorated and is not up to the standards now’.

During the monsoon, the channel’s woes turn worst. According to another government report,‘The local body has provided Pucca Storm Water Drains (only 16% of road length) in some portions of the town. Other areas are drained through natural slopes. Increase in development activities in the town, over the past years, has resulting in reduced carrying capacity of the drains due to siltation, encroachments and solid waste dumping. The drains carry the wastewater disposal and in many places, the functions of storm water drains are choked with garbage, which creates environmental problems and need regular maintenance by the urban local body’.

Over the years several plans have been tried to cleanse the channel including increasing the sewage connections in the town, desilting and construction of check dams. But the problem has hardly been addressed.

Only  a strong public movement can halt the abuse of the vital Kodappamund channel.

A taste of the hills – keeping traditional Badaga food alive!

[Article and photos from The Hindu, dt 1 Jun 2017]

A taste of the hills – keeping traditional Badaga food alive!


As traditional Badaga food slowly begins to vanish, a few people are making an effort to keep the memories alive

For someone who is a foodie and a fitness freak, stumbling upon dishes that are both healthy and delicious is like hitting the jackpot. When I frantically scrolled through my Pinterest feed, looking for “healthy desserts”, I quite forgot that there was a satisfyingly delicious dessert that was made right at home. My favourite hatchike, a Badaga dessert made out of millets.

I remember when my hethai (grandmother) served us hatchike every other day. Now, living away from my hatti (village), it is a forgotten dish along with many other old favourites. Happily, all is not lost as there are people from the community who are striving to revive and preserve the fading traditions of the Badagas of the Nilgiris.

Harsha Bellie, 48, a Badaga from Coonoor, often invites people to visit or stay with her. She enjoys serving them a healthy and tasty Badaga hittu (meal). “Not many know what hatchike is,” she says and recounts, how earlier, her relatives sent ready-to-eat millet cereal. It is becoming a rarity now, she says.

Hatchike is made using little millet or samai, which is suitable for all age groups, says Bellie. It has several health benefits for both men and women. Preparing hatchike is a cumbersome process, she admits. It involves boiling, roasting and pounding the millet to de-husk it and, finally, winnowing to blow off the husk.

I still remember when my hethai would sit by the ole (fireplace) and roast grains in a madake (earthen pot) with a hole on the side, using a huri-kolu (a wooden stick with a cloth tied at the end to make a ball). Sadly, this now remains only in my memory. Hatchike is usually served with milk and grated coconut.

Bellie is keeping these memories alive by inviting tourists to sample Badaga fare. A group called Veg Voyages stops at her place every year as a part of its vegan tour. She introduces the tourists to some of the customs of community life, to a typical Badaga house where the grains are stored in the atulu (loft/attic), to Badaga music and dance and to enne hittu (a sweet dish of maida) that is dipped into black coffee and eaten. This is rounded off with an authentic Badaga meal, served in a ganguva (copper/brass plate) filled with kadimittu, eragi hittu, batha hittu, avare udaka, soppu, sandege and bathal. Of course, hatchike is the dessert. For vegans, instead of milk, Bellie serves it with coconut milk.

Eragi hittu — or ragi mudde in Kannada — is made of finger millets and is a healthy alternative to rice and wheat. A depression is made in the mudde and ghee poured into it. It is then eaten with soppu (greens) and avare udaka (beans curry). During the hethai habba (our biggest festival), it is a beautiful sight to see all Badagas wearing white, sitting in rows and eating avare udaka and kuu (rice) in the green hills.

Apart from millets, the earlier Badaga cultivated barley and wheat. It was common to see these grains spread out in the courtyards to dry under the sun. They would then be fried, and used to make a variety of dishes. With such practices disappearing, dishes like ganjike, the base of which is ganje (barley), have also become a rarity. The increase in tea cultivation led to the decline in the cultivation of millets and other grains in the Nilgiris.

Our ancestors consumed what they grew, made sure they replenished the soil and prepared almost everything from scratch. If they wanted butter, they would churn milk using a pot and plunger, a rope and bare hands. This process called haalu sorakodu has now been replaced by mixers and machines. Even the hati maasu hudi (masala used in the gravies) was home made but is now available readymade in shops. ). Since everything was hand milled, there was no adulteration and the food was extremely healthy. People stayed active and there was plenty of social interaction when relatives or neighbours lent a helping hand in grinding and pounding.

Bellie firmly believes that if more people followed older traditions, both the people and the earth would be healthier. She says that she would dearly love to grow more grains and encourage others to do the same in their hola (fields) for at least a few tasty meals every month.

For Badaga food habits and some mouth watering recipes, visit the pages in http://www.badaga.co – Wg.cdr.JP

More than 500,000 hits !

Image result for badaga.co


More than 500,000 hits !

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart – JP

The Day Nilgiris became a Hill Station

The Day Nilgiris became a Hill Station
Dharmalingam Venugopal [Nilgiri Documentation Centre, Kotagiri]
Today is the day, 190 years ago,  Governor Sir Thomas Munro gave his stamp of approval to establish a Hill Station on the Nilgiris.
Though the Nilgiri mountains have been in the possession of the British since 1800, it was only  after Collector John Sullivan’s visit to the hills in 1819 that the idea of founding a station on the hills for revitalizing sick soldiers was formed.Sir_Thomas_Munro
A factor  that greatly helped this idea was the appointment of Sir Thomas Munro as Governor of Madras Presidency in 1820. Munro was a close friend of the Sullivans  and they were part of a progressive front to develop India.
From 1820 Sullivan made repeated requests to the Madras government to set up a hospital in the hills and did everything in his capacity to facilitate such a decision by building roads, houses and introducing English vegetables, trees and fruits.  Till that time sick soldiers and officials had to go to England or Mauritius or Capt Town for rest and recuperation.
However, the Board of Control in London was not convinced and turned down Sullivan’s proposal. They also rejected Sullivan’s plan to use Ooty lake waters to irrigate lands in Erode because the outlay of Rs.2000  estimated was too much !
The Board in London simply did not believe that so near to the Coimbatore plains was a cold and salubrious place which was the dream of every British languishing in the hot, disease ridden plains of India.
Munro finally visited the Nilgiris in 1826 and saw for himself what Sullivan had been eulogizing about for the past six years.
On May 28, 1827, Munro sent his recommendation to the Board stating that though the Nilgiris may not be suitable or viable for setting up a hospital, officers of the civil and military services should be encouraged to visit the hills on their own for recovery of their health. To facilitate that Munro proposed that the government could take on rent Sullivan’s  Stonehouse  which would  accommodate 8 to 10 officers.
To reinforce his proposal, Munro argued that a sum of Rs.170 lakhs had been spent in the previous three years on sending sick officers to England  and therefore “ If only a very small proportion of these Officers could be restored to health by a temporary residence on the Hills instead of a Voyage to Europe the charges incurred by Government would be amply repaid”.
Stating further that the healthfulness of the Nilgiris had not been correctly assessed by the young medical officers who had  spent only a short time on the hills, Munro recommended, “It would probably require a long continued course of medical and scientific observation conducted by a competent person with the assistance of an adequate establishment of servants and the proper meteorological apparatus to determine fully on the capabilities
of the climate of the Nielgherries”
“It seems therefore advisable that we should station permanently on the Hills a Medical Officer qualified to make the necessary observations on their climate. I propose that Mr. Haynes be selected for this purpose and be appointed to the medical charge of the Nielgherries with a salary of Rupees 350 and the usual Palenkeen allowance for servants and Medicine”, Munro added in his recommendation.
It was a tragic irony that Munro’s recommendations were accepted by the Board of Control at London on July 6, 1827, the day on which Sir Thomas Munro met his untimely death at  Pattikonda in Andhra Pradesh.
Very interesting and informative.  Thanks for sharing. – Raminder Chowdhary
I think that at some point Sullivan began to make daily weather observations to back up his case. – Paul Hockings

Food that Can Replace Pills

Fourteen Foods that Can Replace Pills

Whenever we start feeling ill, the first thing we do is reach for the medicine cabinet. The problem with taking pills is that even though they’ll probably help with your predicament, they’re also bound to have unwanted side effects. The best solution is to use these 14 natural remedies, which are just as efficient as drugs.

1. Bananas – Stress and anxiety

Next time you feel stressed, grab a banana! With an average of 105 calories and 14 grams of sugar, a banana will boost your blood-sugar levels and help combat hunger. Additionally, a banana contains 30% of your daily requirement of Vitamin B6, which helps your brain in the production of serotonin – a chemical that helps reduce stress.

2. Yogurt – Constipation and gas

One and a half cups of yogurt are packed full of probiotics that assist in digestion and improves the stomach’s ability to digest dairy and legumes – a major cause of gastric gasses.

3. Raisins – High blood pressure

A large handful of resins (approx. 60) contains over 200mg of potassium, as well as 1 gram of fiber. These are strongly recommended as part of a diet to help reduce blood pressure. Recent studies show that the polyphenols in grapes, raisins and wine, help maintain the circulatory system and reduce blood pressure.

4. Apricots – Kidney stones

4 dried apricots contain 2 grams of fiber, 235mg of potassium and just 3mg of sodium. This combination is highly effective at preventing minerals from getting trapped in your kidneys, which is the cause of the most common kidney stones.

5. Tuna – Foul mood

A can of tuna contains about 800mg of Omega-3, a fatty acid that is considered vital in the treatment of depression. Omega 3 is even an approved treatment for depression by the American Psychiatric Association.

6. Ginger tea – Nausea

A time-old proven treatment for nausea, ginger has also been scientifically proven to be helpful in dealing with nausea caused by motion sickness as well as morning sickness. It is as effective as anti-nausea medicine, but without the side effects (such as ‘cottonmouth’ and lethargy)

7. Basil – Indigestion

Studies suggest that the eugenol in basil is highly effective as a gastric painkiller, nausea reduction, cramping and diarrhea by eliminating bacteria Salmonella and Listeria. Basil is also effective at preventing halitosis.

8. Pears – High cholesterol

The average pear contains 5 grams of the dietary fiber Pectin, which helps clear the body of ‘bad cholesterol’ (LDL).

9. Cabbage – Stomach ulcers

In a research published by the John Hopkins Medical School, it was found that the sulforaphane in cabbage helps battle the helicobacter pylori bacteria (a main cause for ulcers). It is believed that sulforaphane may also help prevent gastric tumors.

10. Figs – Hemorrhoids

Dried figs are rich in dietary fiber, which in turn, produce softer feces and aiding in reducing hemorrhoids and the liness of developing them.

11. Potatoes – Headaches

Amedium-sized potato contains 37 carbohydrates, which help reduce headaches by increasing serotonin production in the brain.

12. Garlic – Yeast infection

Garlic contains many essential oils that help prevent the development of yeast infections.

13. Chamomile tea – Heartburn

A great treatment for gastric inflammation, cramping, heartburn and gas, is mixing 2 teaspoons of chamomile tea in a cup of boiling water and brewing it for about 20 minutes and then drinking it.

14. Orange juice – Lethargy

The fructose in orange juice is a natural and fast-working stimulant, and research has proven the ability of Vitamin C to reduce damage caused by free radicals and provide the body with energy. Vitamin C is also a key factor in maintaining iron levels in our blood, which keeps it oxygenated.

C S Chandramouli

Congratulations Dr.Haldorai !

Life time achievement award being conferred on Dr. R.Haldorai from Kiya Kauhatti

Nellikolu Charitable Trust, headed by Dharuman of Kekkatti, Yellanalli, who has been doing commendable work to make Badagas to know about themselves [Nangava Nanga Arivo – let us know about ourselves], is going to confer Life Time Achievement Award to Dr.R.Haldorai, author of many books on and of Badagas on the 27th May 2017 at Ooty.

Hearty Congratulations to Dr.Haldorai !


A ray of hope for Young Badaga Association?

A Ray of Hope for Young Badaga Association, if All Willing !?

DV It is official now. YBA has been running an illegal activity (renting the building to marriages) to raise funds which has led to the unsavory tussle for control by rival groups.

The original order dated 5th July 1972 (obtained via an RTI request) granting land to YBA says, ‘The land shall be used for the construction of building for the Association Library etc and for no other purposes’.

One year later the order was amended to state,’The Association was permitted to use the downstairs of the building for recreational purposes’.

The punishment for violating the conditions is also clearly stated. ‘The Government may resume the land wholly or in part with any buildings thereon, in the event of the infringement of any of the conditions of the grant’.

It is a mystery how YBA has been allowed to continue all these years though it did not fulfill any of the original conditions but, on the contrary, was carrying on illegal activities like letting the premises for marriages.

How can different factions fight over the legality of the elections to YBA while the activities of YBA are totally unlawful? This is the question every Badaga should ask himself of herself.

Having now been brought to the attention of the government action is bound to follow sooner or later. Community members like me are determined to make the government take action no matter how long it takes.

Now in that unfortunate event, it will be a great loss of face and shame to the entire community.

But it is still not too late to avert such a situation if only we can all break our stupid silence and prevail upon the warring groups to see stark reality, sink their differences and make YBA lawful, purposeful and the pride of all badagas.

Here’s a 10-point proposal:

  1. Make the members who have had the honour of being Ministers, Chief Patrons of YBA.
  2. Make the sitting MPs and MLAs Patrons of YBA

  3. Form a Governing Council of 10 members representing senior members who have retired as government officials, professors, bankers, doctors and teachers.

  4. Form an Executive Committee comprising present office bearers and representatives of the other factions plus a few neutral observers. This Committee will run of YBA subject to guidance from the Governing Council.

  5. The winning office bearers of the recent elections can be declared but their functioning will be subject to the Executive Committee. A competent non-Badaga can be appointed as full time Secretary for the time being at a good salary and responsibility.

  6. The tenure of the new team will be limited to the original two years and membership to Rs.100.

  7. Proper, transparent and democratic rules and regulations can be formed during the next two years for future growth of YBA.

  8. Membership should be opened immediately and should remain on tap.

  9. All illegal renting activities should cease. It can be decided later how best to make use of the space and premises of the YBA building in a proper manner.

  10. Pending these changes let us all join together and celebrate Ooty Summer Festival, for 10 or 15 days, at the YBA hall in a grand manner to showcase the multi-talents of the Badaga youth.


Young Badaga association, taking everyone for a ride !

YBA taking Courts, Government, Community & Public for a Ride!!

Dharmalingam Venugopal
Honorary Director, Nilgiri Documentation Centre. Kotagiri

Present Young Badaga Association team drives its legitimacy from a High Court order implemented by a retired judge and a retired top official. Despite it being challenged on multiple fronts of late it keeps hanging on to power because the administration, community and the public are helpless.

Fed up with the continuing nuisance, the administration has even come down to mediate between the two unrepresentative groups claiming rights.

The fact YBA has conveniently hidden from the High Court, Government, Community and the Public is that all the fight is over an illegal corpus of funds.

The only bone of contention between the warring groups is the few lakhs of money with the YBA.

The only source of that money is the conduct of marriages in the YBA Hall which is totally illegal. Conduct of income earning activities like letting the premises for marriages is against the non-profit condition on which the government granted the land.

Besides, YBA does not have a license to run a marriage hall. YBA hall also does not qualify for any of the conditions required by law to conduct marriages such as minimum distance from schools, parking space, food safety etc. If a disaster happens every body will be in trouble.

It is not as if that the administration is not aware of these facts. It is in an embarrassing situation. If it takes a positive decision, it will be only endorsing an illegal activity. If it takes a negative decision, it will offend the whole community.

The situation is so pathetic that my RTI to the administration requiring the original order granting land to YBA is yet to be replied even after 40 days.

My representation to the Udhagamandalam Municipality requesting for information as to why an unauthorized institution has been allowed to conduct marriages in YBA has not been replied for more than two months.

The administration has so many important things to attend during this summer months. It is nothing but criminal on the part of us Badagas to take up the administration’s time to solve a problem which has no resolution.

The solution is simple provided us Badagas, ordinary as well as so called intellectuals, give up our hesitation, prejudice and diplomacy to call a spade a spade.

Call on the administration to stop the illegal activity of conducting marriages in YBA Hall. Once that income ceases, let us see how many groups are willing to fight for control.

Once the dust settles down in six months or so genuine members could contest the elections in due manner and take the YBA to glorious heights. Why worry about funds? Badagas are willing to donate if YBA is run honestly, professionally and democratically.

If you agree with me, send a mail immediately to the District Collector.