November 4, 2020
Udhagamandalam: Come Friday,Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mr.Edappadi Palanisamy will be in Ooty.By way of giving him a taste of the traditional hospitality of the Badagas and enhancing awareness about their role in enriching the culture of the Blue Mountains,the Nilgiri Badagar Alliance (NBA) has sent him a representation highlighting a recent recognition accorded to the Badagas by the United Nations,with a request to consider favourably the longtime plea of the hill community for inclusion in the list of Scheduled Tribes.
Adverting to the UN recognition,the Coordinator of the NBA Mr.Dharmalingam Venugopal has noted “ We, a group of elders of the community, are happy to inform your good self that a 200 year old colonial mistake pertaining to our history has been corrected recently. The Badaga community has been rightly included in the Data Base of World’s Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations Mountain Partnership.
The United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have already declared the Badaga language as one of oldest Dravidian languages and Endangered. Local political leaders, across parties, have welcomed the development”, Adding “had the late Chief Minister Dr. J.Jayalalithaa, a great Patron of the Badaga community, been alive she would be the happiest to welcome the news”,he pointed out that despite the recommendations of the past Chief Ministers of the state, the long standing demand of the Badaga community for inclusion in the ST list has not been successful mainly because of the fact that the basic representations were made by community social workers who may not have been experts in the subject.
For the first time, in response to a Madras High Court direction, a competent authority, The Director of Tribal Research Centre, Udhagamandalam, had prepared a report on the status of the Badaga community. The report is under consideration by the Tribal Welfare Department of your government.
Alongside, the UN Mountain Partnership has also declared the Badagas indigenous according to the internationally agreed definition.
“In the light of these two historical developments, the entire Badaga community will be beholden to you, if your government would reconsider our demand and resubmit the case to the Centre for consideration of inclusion in the ST list”,Mr.Venugopal said.
The rightful inclusion of the Badagas in the ST list will not only restore their political, social and cultural rights and responsibilities, it will also ensure the sustainable development of the Nilgiri Mountains and their ecology.
Referring to the purpose of the Chief Minister’s visit, he said that Badagas, the largest and most influential social group in the district, have cooperated the utmost with the district administration to control and contain the pandemic. It has been a great sacrifice to forgo traditional practices that go back hundreds of years; especially in regard to funeral practices which are quintessential to Badaga culture.
Equally importantly, the community has been playing a crucial role in keeping up the economy of the district as both producers of tea and vegetables as well as the largest customers in markets and shops across the district. The doctors and other officials from the community have been serving round the clock to not only control Covid 19 but also to keep the development works going.