A village of the Malayali tribe inTamil nadu

These ‘Malayalis’ still live in dark ages: PIL

Special Correspondent
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Lack of infrastructure in Kalvarayan Hills

A public interest litigation petition filed in the Madras High Court highlights the hardship faced by the people of the Kalvarayan Hills in Villupuram district owing to the absence of infrastructure.
K.R. Tamizhmani of Koyambedu here said in his petition that he and his family had stayed at Karumandhurai for two days. The Kalvarayan, Periyakalrayan and Chinnakalrayan areas, spread over 2,000 sq.km, was inhabited by a tribe called ‘Malayalis.’ In the absence of job opportunities, 90 per cent of the population lived in poverty. Furthermore, transport, education and hospital facilities were inadequate.
This was because the mini-rulers were unwilling to recognise the Union government, abide by the statutes and hand over 105 villages to the government. Only during the Emergency was it possible to get rid of the rulers. The Jagirdhars or mini-rulers (Poligars) said they were forcibly dispossessed, but the government claimed the area was handed over to it on June 25, 1976. During 1979-80, the government started building roads, hospitals and schools. Yet, the progress was not adequate.
At present, 40 per cent of the area in the interior regions lacked roads. Hence, there was no public transport.
During medical emergencies, it was impossible to reach a hospital. A Primary Health Centre worked at a distance of 20 km, but it had no life-saving drugs or doctors. A hospital where one could expect a reasonably good emergency treatment was 40 km away. Roads were not being maintained properly; when it rained, travel was impossible. Drinking water was also a cause for concern. An elementary school was four km away. High/higher secondary schools were rare.
When the matter came up before the First Bench of Chief Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan, notice was taken on behalf of the Central and the State governments.
Counter in four weeks
The Bench directed the authorities to file a counter, within four weeks, with details, including colour photographs, to show the works, if any, implemented. 

A village of the Malayali tribe.
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Photograph of two men and two women of the Malaiyali tribe in the Shevaroy Hills in Tamil Nadu - 1860s


Photograph of two men and two women of the Malaiyali tribe in the Shevaroy Hills in Tamil Nadu, southern India, taken by an unidentified photographer in the 1860s, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections. The Malaiyalis, or Hill-dwellers, were a homogenous community whose subsistence and economy depended exclusively on the forests. The figures in this image are posed against the exterior of a tent. This print is one of a series commissioned by the Government of India in the late 19th century in an attempt to gather information about the different racial groups on the sub-continent. Material was submitted by professional and amateur photographers working in studios and in the field; this photograph was attributed to the Madras School of Industrial Arts, an important training centre for photographers in the area, established in 1850.

Source: British Library