‘KSTRI study of Kodava tribe an eye-wash’
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‘KSTRI study of Kodava tribe an eye-wash’

September 29, 2021

Codava National Council demands another meticulous ethnographic study  

Mysore/Mysuru: Codava National Council (CNC) led by its President Nandineravanda U. Nachappa has urged the State Government to issue a fresh order to conduct a comprehensive and meticulous ethnographic study on Kodava tribe with ‘Emic’ approach with judicious perspective.

Addressing a press conference at Pathrakarthara Bhavan in the city yesterday, Nachappa said that the CNC had demanded that the Centre conduct an ethnographic survey of the Kodava tribe in Kodagu district to include the tribe in the Constitution’s Scheduled List.

Following the Centre’s direction, the Karnataka Government had released Rs. 11 lakh for the purpose of the survey and entrusted the work to the Mysuru-based Karnataka State Tribal Research Institute (KSTRI) in 2016. Though the survey was conducted between Nov. 16 and Dec. 18, 2016, it was inappropriate and not as per the established practices due to the influence of certain political leaders and some vested interests inside KSTRI, he said.

Also, instead of conducting ethnographic study, the KSTRI prepared a questionnaire for Socio-Economic study and proceeded with it. It carried out field work of only 13 families of Bettathur village in Madikeri Taluk to derail and subvert the real objective of the Government order, Nachappa said.  

Eye-wash study

Among the Taluks in Kodagu, the Kodava community is most densely populated in Virajpet Taluk, then in Madikeri Taluk and less number remain in Somwarpet Taluk. Out of 1 lakh population, the KSTRI collected the samples of only 6,000. Each Taluk’s Kodava population’s standard of living varies. Hence just a study of one village in one Taluk does not give the authentic insight and information regarding Kodava race, he added. 

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If conducted properly, the ethnographic survey would have helped include Kodava tribe in the Scheduled List of the Constitution. He said the entry into the list would help protect, preserve and ratify the inherent land rights, traditional habitation, language, cultural heritage, and geopolitical aspirations of the Kodava community.

The Kodava tribe is as indigenous to Kodagu as Pandits are to Kashmir, he said. Now the tribe has been excluded from the welfare schemes and social empowerment programmes as it is not in Scheduled List, he said.

All norms violated

“The KSTRI study was in a diabolic ‘Etic’ approach while actually an ‘Emic’ approach should have been adopted. The parameters laid down by the Justice Lokur Committee Report were ignored by the KSTRI that conducted an eye-wash study. Also, the title of the study should have been “Kulashashtra Adhyayana” or “Ethnographic Study” but KSTRI has titled it “Kodagu Jilleyallina Kodava Samudayada Arthika-Saamaajika Adhyayana” (a socio-economic study of Kodavas),” Nachappa said.

There is a clear cut order issued by the Government to conduct an exclusive ethnographic study. KSTRI has carried out a major portion of socio-economic study and created fake economic status. “KSTRI neither collected authentic documents nor produced proper income and expenditure sources but collected only verbal statements, marginalising the real ethnographic issue,” Nachappa claimed.

Repeated requests made by CNC to the State Government for rectification in ethnographic study were not considered, forcing the CNC to approach the High Court of Karnataka.

In the midst of Court proceedings, a prejudiced Kodava study report was submitted by KSTRI  to the Government on July 5, 2021 after the Director meddled with the date. “KSTRI created a fake exaggerated version with a prejudiced mindset which is not acceptable. We urge the Government to reject the present report as being unscientific and issue a fresh order to conduct a comprehensive and meticulous ethnographic study of Kodava race with an ‘Emic’ approach by the team of skilled ethnologists, social scientists and expert anthropologists,” he said. 

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High Court Advocate and Budakattu Kuruba Sangharsha Samithi President Lakkavalli Manjunath, CNC leaders Areyada Girish, Chambanda Janath Kumar, Kaliyanda Prakash, Ajjikuttira Lokesh, Apparanda Poovanna and others were present at the press meet.

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