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
http://www.nilgiridocumentation

Shame on Young Badaga Association : Blot on Badagas

Shame on Young Badaga Association : Blot on Badagas

Dharmalingam Venugopal, Kannerimukku , 9444365360

20170210_165153

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

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.

1941-42-young-badaga-association

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Dear Venu – I am with you hundred percent.

– Wg Cdr Bellie Jayaprakash

 

Let us know about ourselves – Nangava Nanga Arivo

Let us know about ourselves

Nangava Nanga Arivo is the topic underwhich Nelikolu Trust is organising a ‘wake up meeting’  to preserve ‘Badaga Culture’ at Bakkamora, Kaguchchi Village in Thodhanaadu Seemay on 28 Jan 2017 at 10.30 am.

A laudable effort by Nelikolu Trust, Yellanalli, Ketti under the leadership of Dharuman and ably assisted by Dr.R.K.Haldorai [based at Chennai] and others. [I want to put my deep gratitude and appreciation to Dr.Haldorai and other organisers for inviting me to this meeting- Wg.Cdr.JP]

Unfortunately, the notice/information sent about the meeting is only in ‘pure’ Tamil and hence difficult to give the correct translation in English. My request to Dr. Haldorai, who is a Tamil Scholar as well, is, please in future kindly give the information in English also, since most of Badaga youth is more familiar with English [being tech savvy, active social media and internet users].

This sort of awareness meeting is overdue and hopefully, something concrete will emerge. The sad but true fact is, of late, Badaga community, is slowly but surely losing its unique customs and culture.

Starting at the very basic and fundamental fact of Badaga Origin, our community is not able to say and asertain with any sort of authority [based on facts and figures] about our very origin. The western researchers supported by some ill informed local Badagas, have succeeded in spreading the ‘Migration from Mysore plains’ theory over the years, just based on the meaning of the word Badaga. It is high time, we assertain that we are one of the indigeneous tribes of the Nilgiri hills and are eligible to be considered under the PTG – Primary Tribal Group.

Three of the topics that would be discussed as indicated in the notice are :-

1.Badagar samaya kotpadum, munnor vazhipaadum – by Dr.Sundaradevan

Badagas have been nature and ancestor worshippers. Though they followed the traditional theories and practices of Hinduism, in the ancient days, there were no temples in any Badaga Village . The practice of worshipping Hethai is comparitively a new phenemenon of a few hundred years old. But now, in every village, there is a temple around which all functions and festivities are centered .

In some rare cases, the temple/temples themselves have become a point of conflict and confrotation. The forced or otherwise, conversion to Christianity has become a big threat shaking the very foundation on which Badaga values have been built. Every Badaga had a ‘PURE’ Badaga name, based on their ancestors in the family – Muthe mupparu and hethe hepparu hesarikki bandharu. Now some of the Badaga names are there only on paper and sadly even the few Badagas with original Badaga names have added at the end ‘n’ to their names and distorted the originality completely. Madha has become Mathan, Nanja has become Nanjan.

Hopefully Dr.Sundaradeven will touch on these issues.

2.Badaga mozhi’in thani thanmaigalum sirappugalum – by Dr.RK Haldorai

Dr. Haldorai is blessed with deep knowledge of Badaga and Badaga baashay. But, I am afraid that, he is also biased in favour of Tamil. Though the Ha word and pronounciation is an integral part and beauty of Badaga language, I notice a reluctance to use it in his writings. He prefers to write his name as Aalthorai in Tamil instead of Haldorai. I beleive that it shoul be only Hatti and not Atti when you refer to a village. Haalu for milk not aalu. Aalu in fact means anger. Ha and Ja are part of our language and let us retain them in all its glory.

Badaga language is being literally decimated by the influence of Tamil and English. When you see some of the videos on Badaga, you feel so disgusted to hear some words being used. ‘In search of love – is gavava thedi’ and not ‘gavava arachi’. Purunjoley for artha aappiley [not understandable] has become a common word.

Humble request to Dr.Haldorai to address this urgent issue – as he has rightly put it ‘let us know our mother tongue – avvaiya maaththa arivo’.

3. Badagar thirumana uravu muraigalum Badagar kaala kanukkum – by N.Raman

One of the main reasons why many Badagas marry from outside is the confusion created based on the so called MORAY. We assume that the village gowda is the ultimate in assertaining about morey. High time, this great tradition is followed in the correct and scientific way instead of in an adhoc manner.

Hope and pray that this sort of meetings and seminars are held more often.

My last but a very important request to Nelikolu and other groups, please involve our Badag ladies in these meetings and give them equal opportunities to freely express their views. Let us accept that they are ‘half’ of us.

May Hethe bless and give us the strengh to overcome the threats that are facing our great community and enlighten us to know about ourselves.

 

Badaga Origin – the big mystery ?!

The origin of Badagas is a big mystery.

What is the origin and how old is the history of Badagas?

How long have they been in the Nilgiris – the hills known to Badagas as Naakku Betta [though literally Naakku Betta means four mountains it actually refers to many surrounding mountains]? When researchers and anthropologists on a scholarship [or funded by universities] in the west can stoutly claim that tribes like Todas and Kothas [Thodhamaru and Kotharu to Badagas] are original inhabitants of the Nilgiris and termed as PTGs [ Primitive Tribal Groups], why are they hesitant to offer the same classification to Badagas whose language, customs, traditions, rites and rituals are unique, is a big mystery!?

badaga-5-tribes

[ the link to above – http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/photocoll/t/019pho0000974s1u00001000.html ]

Because, apart from some explorers, especially Europeans and ‘trained’ anthropologists along with some local ‘well informed'[ should it not be ill informed?] Indians including Badagas have come to the conclusion that since the predominant meaning of Badaga is northerner and hence they have migrated from the north – Mysore plains. Yes, just based on the name Badaga and it its meaning.

Even if the theory of migration is to be accepted [with not a pinch but a handful of salt], the ‘so called researchers’ seem to overlook the fact that north of the Nilgiris does not end at Mysore plains but stretches much beyond. One researcher, to whom I have plenty of respect, goes to the extent that Badagas, themselves, had told about this migration in 1603 to  Finicio.

How clever, can one get? Badagas are divided into many groups. One such group, Lingyats who still have matrimonial connections with other Lingyats in the Mysore plains, may have migrated. Only of late, they have started marrying into other groups like Gowdas . That does not mean that all Badagas are migrants. In 1603, people in any remote village surrounded by thick forests and jungles and generally cut off from rest of the world, couldnot be expected to give correct answers about their ancestry to wandering missionaries

In early 1603, Giacomo Finicio, a Jesuit priest in the service of the Roman Catholic church in Malabar, was assigned to undertake a journey to Todamala (as the Nilgiris was known then) with a mission to bring the long-lapsed Christians (mistakenly believed to be Todas) back to the Christian fold

http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/mag/2004/02/22/stories/2004022200130200.htm

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

badaga-5tribesbadaga-5-tribes2

 

 

 

 

 

 

[The Badagas are the only ones with turbans – called mandarey]

The information given above by British Library – does it not convey a big ‘fact’

[More to follow..]

Pray include Badaga Culture in Tribal Cultural Centre, Ooty

The following letter was addressed to the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Chennai and this website endorses the views and concern expressed by Dharmalingam Venugopal and requests for a favourable and early action – Wg Cdr. JP

Respected Sir,

Pray include Badaga Culture in Tribal Cultural Centre, Ooty

The newly constructed Tribal Cultural Centre at Ooty, a parting gift of the late, lamented Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, is likely to be opened for public any time now.

Sir, it is learnt that the Badaga Culture may not find a place in the Centre. If it is true, it will mean a grave injustice to the Badaga community and to the Nilgiris.

In recent years there have been a misleading supposition that the Badagas do not belong to the original tribal communities of Nilgiris and that they were migrants from somewhere in Mysore. Nothing can be more preposterous and mindless than such claims or views.

This needless controversy has surfaced in the past few decades following some publications by foreign anthropologists. According to them Badagas might have migrated from Mysore as they believe the word ‘Badaga’ denotes ‘Northeners’. The assumption itself is highly questionable and without foundation.

Even assuming the correctness of such claims, according to such anthropologists the migration took place sometime in 1550s. That is, some 500 years ago when the world, as we know now, had hardly been formed. There was no United States or Britain or Europe; nor India or Madras or Tamil Nadu!! The people of the whole world was migrating and yet to settle down.

Is not five centuries enough to accept the Badaga claim as a native tribe of Nilgiris? Besides, there is absolutely no evidence as to who came first and who came later among the Todas, Badagas, Kotas, Irulas and Kurumbas, the main tribes of Nilgiri uplands.

The very question of Badagas or any other tribes of Nilgiris having come from somewhere is meaningless and needless. How many communities or castes in Tamil Nadu can trace their origin or where they originated? Unlike most other communities and castes of Tamil Nadu, the antiquity and social and cultural uniqueness of the Badagas have been well researched and documented by Indian and foreign scholars.

The Badagas claim for inclusion in the list of Scheduled Tribes may not have been accepted. But none can deny their status as a Nilgiri Tribe.

Just as Tamilians include various tribes, castes and communities the Badagas too include several groups of people. A small group of Badagas even today marry from Mysore. One group of Badagas has obtained the Most Backward Class status from the state government while the rest are classified as Backward Class.

The needless controversy over Badaga history has already led to serious social, cultural, economic and administrative consequences in the Nilgiris. The discontinuation of enumeration of Badaga as a separate language in the last two census has led to a peculiar problem of not knowing how many Badagas, the largest social group, are there in the Nilgiris.

Preservation of socio-economic and cultural tradition of Badagas is paramount to the future of the Nilgiris and Tamil Nadu. Therefore, we pray your honorable self to consider this representation favorably and seek your kind intervention to :

a) Provide due space and content for Badaga Culture in the Tribal Cultural Centre before its inauguration.

b) Institute an enquiry as to why Badaga language, unlike in the previous census, had not been enumerated as a separate language in the last two census and restore its separate enumeration from the 2021 census onwards.

c) Constitute a high-level committee to confer a suitable categorization to the Badaga community, such as Mountain/Hill Tribe or Indigenous People, pending their representation for the status of a Scheduled Tribe.

Sir, your kind attention and intervention will certainly gratify the departed Chief Minister’s noble soul; for, the Badaga community was always very close to her heart.

Dharmalingam Venugopal Honorary Director, Nilgiri Documentation Centre, Kotagiri, The Nilgiris . www.nilgiridocumentation.com


Comments and counter views:

Prof.Paul Hockings writes :
Dear Venu,
I applaud your appeal for the inclusion of Badaga culture in the cultural centre display, but you weaken your case somewhat in the early part of your letter by some very obvious errors. These suggest the writer doesn’t know what he is talking about. First of all, and of least significance here, Britain and Madras were indeed well-established entities five hundred years ago.

As for the word “Badaga”, all linguists agree that it means “northerner”, without any doubt. Badagas told Fenicio in 1603 that they were northerners. Since that date, it is not “foreign anthropologists” who have “claimed” this, but rather the many dozens of Badaga elders who have told them this, and ever since 1832: the literature makes this very clear, and Breeks in particular made it very clear in 1873. So calling this a “misleading supposition” is casting doubt without any supporting evidence to the contrary.

Future generations of Badagas don’t deserve to be bamboozled about their own history! Some elders have in fact told me not just that their ancestors came from Mysore, but from precisely which villages they came. The Todas have also told us that the Kotas too, a Scheduled Tribe, came from the plains, yet you make no mention of this interesting fact. A lot more could be said about this, but it is already in my books or in a 2016 volume on Indigeneity.
This said, the three points you make at the end of your request to the Chief Minister are altogether valid requests, indeed are the least that we should expect of him. The arbitrary decision to “hide” the number of Badaga speakers among Kannada speakers in recent censuses has been especially egregious, in view of the publications of grammars and dictionaries of the Badaga language by R. Balakrishnan, C. Pilot-Raichoor and myself that make the independent status of the language crystal-clear.
Let us hope that the state government takes some constructive action on this long-fesstering issue, and Badaga culture gains true recognition for its role in creating the modern Nilgiris!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dharmalingam Venugopal counters :
Dear Paul,
I know you will take offence but the stakes are getting higher and Badagas themselves seem so ignorant of what is going on.

You know there have been several instances (starting from Aryan-Dravidian debate) in India when 'academic history' unwittingly spilled over to 'popular history' leading to unwanted consequences. Such histories are also manipulated by vested interests to score their points. So many books have been withdrawn in such contexts. That's is what is happening to the so called Badaga migration. An average clerk in the district administration thinks Badagas came from Mysore some 50 years ago !! Some money making NGOs here also question the status of Badagas as Indigenous People

I mentioned 'misleading suppositions' to mean vague assumptions and not incorrect assumptions. For academicians Badaga origin may continue to be a matter for investigation but it has caused a lot of confusion to the present outsiders and Badagas. No one really bothers to read your's or other's book. It is just word of mouth or some silly newspaper article. That is the reason why I have to do what I am doing now.

Of course, my history is poor but surely the world of today is vastly different from the world of 1800 or 1550s. Why dig up the roots of just one small community? Does it serve any purpose? On the contrary it can and has already caused a lot of trouble.

If I were a migrant from the hot plains of Mysore I would rather settle in the warm lower slopes of Gudalur than claim up all the way, risking wildlife and other unknown dangers, to settle in some remote and cold heights.

Badaga no doubt means Northener. And Badagas evidently had a great sense of geography, astronomy etc but was the name given by outsiders or Badagas themselves to outsiders coming to the hills. It is quite possibly a term to denote those like the lingayats who came to the hills in different periods.

If there had been a original and mass migration it would have found a place in our proverbs, sayings and omens etc. When Counsel of the Ancients laid down over thousand do's and don'ts for the Badagas,why were they silent on the origin. Obviously it was too old for them too !!!

I hope you understand the prevailing circumstances which make it imperative for me to bring out these issues. Of course, it is a thankless task.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Prof.Paul Hockings responds :-
Dear Venu,
I appreciate your well-reasoned letter. My books are directed at the educated public, which is including more and more Badagas. I don’t expect a casual reader in Coonoor to know what is meant by ‘uxorilocal residence’ etc., But people who are serious about this will look it up or know already. The audience I am addressing is not just people in the Nilgiris, either, but the increasingly large diaspora and especially their children who have hardly set foot in a Badaga village. These are the people who later in the century will be wondering about where their fathers and mothers came from.

And this is not an idle thought on my part. Anthropology may not be very popular in India — and one can make a strong point that the studies have been done by ‘foreign anthropologists’ for the simple reason that Badagas are not interested or trained in this. (I know about Verghese, but he studied Kotas, and moreover has been dead for many years.) It is very normal for students of Indian origin going to universities in the West, as thousands do, take some anthropology courses because they are required to take a certain number of social science courses. This often can lead to term papers or theses on Nilgiri topics.

But when they come to look into the available library resources, nearly everything is by me! And if their interest is ‘the origin of….’ they find such nonsense floating around in the heads of their friends and relatives as the idea that the Todas came from Greece (else why would Prince Peter of Greece, a good anthropologist, be interested in them?); or a recent claim on a website that “the Badagas have been on the Nilgiris for 8000 years”; or an idea that Ari Gowder shared with me that the Badagas must have come from Bengal because he saw similarities between the gudikat and decorations at Buddhist funerals in Bengal….. These baseless ideas will be useless to future generations, especially those who, we may assume, will be interested in studying the Badagas seriously. So I am doing the best I can to present all the relevant evidence for my conclusions — which can always be modified by new evidence.

Unfortunately, Prof.Hockings seems to feel that everything  he claims to be correct about Badaga Origin must be accepted unless new evidence is provided. He has quoted Ari Gowder out of context. He laments that ‘I don’t expect a casual reader in Coonoor to know what is meant by ‘uxorilocal residence’ etc….or a recent claim on a website that “the Badagas have been on the Nilgiris for 8000 years”‘. I would like to remind him that Badagas are no more the docile head nodders to accecpt any thing said and claimed by ‘outsiders’ as gospel truth (pun intended) any more. They are highly educated and rightly agitated about false claims. Proof and evidence will follow about Badaga Origin in future. Let there be healthy debates that can correctly come to a conclusion. I am, being an ‘educated’ Badaga whose website has more than 480,000 hits, totally convinced that Badagas are one of the original inhabitants of the Nilgiri hills and their origin may  be thousands of years old. – Wg Cdr JP

Advertisements