Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to include the 'Badaga' people, a unique community of the hilly Nilgiris region, in the list of Scheduled Tribes category.
In a letter to Manmohan Singh, a copy of which was released to the media, Jayalalithaa said the issue had been pending for a long time and an immediate action may be taken to consider the request of 'Badaga' community to include them in the list of Scheduled Tribes, at the earliest.
She recalled her letter sent to then union minister of tribal affairs during her previous tenure with a detailed analysis of various attributes of the Badaga community such as primitive traits, a distinctive culture, shyness of contact with public at large, geographical isolation and social and economic backwardness to declare them as a Scheduled Tribe.
"In the Census of 1931, the Badagas were classified as a Tribe", she pointed out.
Referring to the recent representation by the "Badaga" community to her, she said the evidence given to her revealed that they have been living in the Nilgiris hills for several centuries along with other tribes, such as Todas.
It was clear that the broad characteristics indicated for classification of a community as a Scheduled Tribe have been
satisfied, thus making them (Badaga community) eligible for qualification as a Scheduled Tribe, she added.