The Badagas, the largest indigenous social group in the Nilgiris, have been included in the Data Base of World’s Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations Mountain Partnership.

The Inscription on the Badagas says, “ Traditionally Buffalo herders, recently there is a strong trend back to farming with particular attention to organic farming”. On the Badaga language, the Inscription says, “Badaga language (Badaga) is part of the Dravidian language family. One of world’s primary language families spoken by over 200 million people in south, central and north India”.

The Mountain Partnership is a United Nations alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments around the world.

Founded in 2002, it has more than 400 members including International Organizations, major private sector organizations and NGOs and 60 governments including India.

MP is currently preparing an international Data Base of Indigenous Peoples and a detailed global map to identify 1. Who are the indigenous and local mountain communities and 2. Where do such communities live?

Indigenous Mountain Peoples are defined by the UN on the following criteria

1) How long they have been living in a specific territory. 
2) Their  cultural distinctiveness, including exclusive language, social organization, religion and spiritual values, modes of production, laws and institutions.
3) Self-identification, as well as recognition by other groups, or by State authorities, as a distinct community.
4) an history of struggle and exploitation.  
5) Their continued inhabitation, at least part of the year, on a mountain.
6) Their continued use  of  traditional food systems around mountain ecosystems.
7) Their clear connection to a particular mountain or range. 

Based on these criteria, the Nilgiri Documentation Centre, a local research body with nearly four decades of work, submitted the case of the Badagas of Nilgiris for inclusion in the World’s Indigenous Peoples Data Base with all necessary supporting evidence and documents.

The UN Mountain Partnership has accepted the application of the NDC and included the Badaga community in their Data Base of World’s Indigenous Peoples.  

World’s  Indigenous People

Indigenous Peoples are distinct social and cultural groups that share collective ancestral ties to the lands and natural resources where they live. There are approximately 476 million Indigenous Peoples worldwide, in over 90 countries. They make up 6 % of the global population but   account for 15 percent of the global poverty.  They occupy 25% of the world’s area but safeguard 80% of the global biodiversity.

The UN and Indigenous Peoples

The UN General Assembly proclaimed 1993 as the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People to seek international cooperation for solving problems faced by indigenous people in terms of human rights, environment, development, education and health. August 9 is observed worldwide as International Day of the Indigenous Peoples. India is one of the 144 states which adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) by the General Assembly on in 2007. The government is yet to prepare a list of indigenous communities in the country.

Mountains and Indigenous Peoples

Majority of the indigenous peoples live in mountains. The United Nations has recognized that the involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities is essential for sustainable mountain development. 

The Documents on Badagas was submitted by Mr. Venugopal Dharmalingam to UNO. 

Mr.Venugopal, belongs to Kannerimukku Village, Son of Dharmalingam.A, the first journalist from Badaga community. He is an Economist, Writer, Environmental Activist and Historian of Nilgiris. He worked for 40 years outside Nilgiris in a Research Institution, The Hindu and a Govt. Bank. He worked in Hong Kong for three years. He is founder of Save Nilgiris Campaign in 1985 and the Nilgiri Documentation Centre in 2006. Venugopal has visited about 30 countries to speak about Nilgiris and its people.
He has attended Global Meetings in China, South America, Scotland, Turkey and France.He has attended UN Global Meetings in Brazil ( 2012) and New York (2015). He is the only member of UN Economic and Social Council and UN International Mountain Partnership from south IndiaHe lives in Kannerimukku village, Kotagiri. 
He was  the Co-founder of the all-Badaga football team in the 1970s with late A.S.K.Rajendran. He is the only person to have arranged Badaga Music programmes in Music Academy, Chennai  and British Council, Chennai.
He has written several books on Nilgiris. The application was made by his capacity as the Honorary Director of Nilgiri Documentation Centre.