Madiga & Dalit: mobilising for advancement

Madiga Home
The Dandora Campaign
Part 1 Notes
Roots 1
Roots 2
Performing arts 1
Performing arts 2
Performing arts 3
The Yellamma Cult
Part 2 Notes
Village order
Inter-caste rivalry
Anti-caste movements
Conflict and atrocities

Dandora poster presence in the temple town of Bhadrachalam on the Godavari river

Part 1

Chapter 6
Mobilising for advancement:
the road to Dandora

P. Muthaiah 2004. Dandora: The Madiga movement for equal identity and social justice in A.P.,

Social Action , 54, 2: 184-209

[pp 185-88]    

Identity Formation and Struggle for Respectable Identity

From the beginning the Madigas have been struggling for respectable identity while the Brahminic class has been designating them as low or polluting. Arundhatiya Mahasabha was the first pioneering association that began the search for respectable identity and awakening of Madigas. The first generation educated Madigas have gone through oral and mythological traditions of literature to locate their respectable identity and their genesis. The Madigas realised that the love story of the pious woman, Arundhathi, and Vasistha reveals the genesis of Madigas that they were the first-born on the planet earth. [… .] They believe that they are the grandchildren of the aborigine king, Jambavanta, and of Arundhati the daughter of Karthama Prajapathi. The Madigas […] believe they were the first rulers of Indian land. In the Madras Presidency, a Telugu Madiga, L.C. Guruswamy, established ‘Arundhatiya Mahasabha’ in 1920 to initiate the struggle for respectable identity. Guruswamy propagated the story of Arundathi and Vasishta and tried to project a high self-image of Madigas, indicating Brahmanic matrimonial relations with Madigas.(1) The story gives a proud account of Madigas. Today, the mythological Arundathi is an ideal and pious woman for all Hindus in India.[a]

The genealogy of Madigas also tells us how Madigas in the past were cheated and projected as unseen, un-approached and untouchables. The story narrates that Karthama Prajapathi, the father of Arundathi allowed Agasthya Maharishi to stay in Dhakshinapatha for some time for his ritual activities. But Agasthya did not leave the Dakshinapatha but instead claimed ownership of it. Karthama Prajapathi claimed that he was the original owner as he has been moving and living on earth from the very beginning. Agasthya Maharishi created a story to drive him away from the land, according to which Karthama was born to a Brahmin women and a Mangali (Barber) man, so he is an untouchable and unseen (2). Then Karthama Prajapathi left the Dakshinapatha in humiliation, losing the ownership of the land. The Madigas of A.P. believe that the Jambavanta is their grandfather and Karthama is their great grandfather. The Madigas narrate this story to prove that they have a respectable identity and they have been there on the earth from the very beginning. They believe they were born much before the earth took its birth.

The Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi (M.R.P.S.) which entered a struggle phase, used three identities - Arundhathi and Jambavantha, the Madiga and Dandora to mobilize people for struggle and to capture for themselves a respectable position in the society. The triple identities of Madigas worked as the ideology of their movement and these symbols did miracles in mobilizing Madigas in lakhs, in exhibiting its popular strength and in achieving their demand for A.B.C.D. categorisation and equal rights. In all public meetings the Madiga leaders narrated the story of Jambavantha as their Grandfather, the known warrior and aborigine king of ancient India. They also educated them to feel proud of their mythological and pious woman, Arundhathi as then Adapaduchu (female child of the family),as an ideal woman for all Hindus who witness the Arundhathi star on the occasions of their marriages.

The leaders of Dandora took a pledge to make the abused term ‘Madiga’ respectable. For this purpose the activists propagated an etymological meaning. ‘Madiga’ means Maha (very) + Adi (from the beginning + ga (moving). That means original inhabitants of India moving and living on earth from very beginning (3). The M.R.P.S. resolved to use Madiga as a suffix to names of its activists, like Sharma, Reddy and Rao, and to fight to make the society accept Madigas as equals. They declared that there is nothing wrong and nothing to be ashamed of using their caste name as a suffix. The movement gave a sense of pride to the Madiga community, introducing themselves as the Madigas and raising their voices against injustice done to them. The M.R.P.S. has been successful in its struggle to gain self-respect and honour by popularizing Madigas as aborigine kings of India. It is also successful in projecting the Madiga identity as of equals, as against an inferior image.

The drum beating of Madigas is popularly known as ‘Dandora’ which means broadcasting. M.R.P.S. made their traditional musical instrument ‘the drum’ a symbol to cry for justice. The Madigas have been the traditional messengers who communicate messages of the village administration, crying in the streets and beating drums. The traditional occupation of drum beating has been made a subjugated service in the village jajmani system. Now they are beating the drum to cry for justice and emancipation of Madigas from their suffering. Today, Dandora has become a synonym for social movements, protests, rallies and struggle in Andhra Pradesh. The President of M.R.P.S, Mr. Krishna Madiga, declared that their ‘weapon is not a gun but a drum. We will beat so loudly that the ruling class will have to heed or their ear drums will burst’ (4).

Arundhatiya Mahasabha was the first association established in Hyderabad state for welfare of Madigas based on respectable identity in the year 1931. It originated out of the sub-caste cleavages between Malas and Madigas of Hyderabad. There was a galaxy of Dalit organisations in Hyderabad State. Bhagya Reddy Varma, B.S. Venkat Rao and Arige Ramaswamy were considered to be the Trinity of Dalit leadership. Bhagya Reddy Varma was the president of Adi-Hindu Social Services League, the pioneering organisation of Dalits in Hyderabad State in the 1920s. Arige Ramaswamy and B.S. Venkat Rao were President and General Secretary of Adi-Hindu Mahasabha respectively. These two organisations worked for the rights of Dalits. Bhagya Reddy Varma was a pioneering leader of Dalits but his Mala partisan attitude was responsible to the emergence of Arundathiya Mahasabha in 1931 (5). Bhagya Reddy opposed a marriage between a Madiga boy and Mala girl rescued from devadasi. Arige Ramaswamy performed this marriage under his personal supervision. The Adi-Hindu Social Services League under the leadership of Bhagya Reddy excommunicated all the leaders who attended the marriage, stating that Mala tradition does not accept a marriage between Malas and Madigas as the Madigas are inferior to them in the social hierarchy (6). It was also said that Bhagya Reddy refused to encourage Madigas’ education in all 32 schools established by the League. The Adi-Hindu Bhavan was also a bone of contention between Madigas and Malas. It was reported that Bhagya Reddy claimed the ownership of the Adi-Hindu Bhavan for Malas only, because Madigas did not contribute a single paisa to the construction. In fact it was constructed in the 1920s by collecting contributions from different philanthropists of Hyderabad state for the common educational purpose of the Dalits. To counter this partisan attitude, the excommunicated leaders established Arundathiya Mahasabha in 1931 for Madigas. Seshagiri Rao and S. Babaiah were prominent Madiga leaders of the Mahasabha. By the 1950s, it had become defunct as most of its members joined Hyderabad State Dalit Jatiya Sangh under the patronage of Jagjeevan Ram.

P.R. Venkatswamy 1955. Our Struggle

for Emancipation, 2 vols. Secunderabad: Universal Art Printers


Venkatswamy’s remarkable chronicle offers the reader a flood of vivid impressions of Dalit politics in Hyderabad through the first half of the twentieth century. The selection here provides glimpses of Madiga-Mala relationships in this context and Madigas’ involvement in mobilisation for reform and political advancement. Venkatswamy was not an impartial observer – how could anyone be? He was a Mala committed to a Dalit perspective, long before it was formally established as such with the creation of the Dalit Jatiya Sangh in 1949. He opposed, that is to say, Mala chauvinism. If somewhat reluctantly, at an early stage he supported the need for separate Madiga organisation. Later he supported keeping a balance of Madigas with Malas and others within organisations that attempted to override individual caste differences. At times he was cruelly critical of Madiga politicians, but far more often it was his fellow Malas – and indeed himself – who are the objects of the same sharp judgement. Telling truths as he saw them rather than presenting a convenient story make his testimony particularly valuable for the historian. At the same time ‘Our Struggle for Emancipation’ is entangled in political rivalries and oppositions and the account of them makes it a tricky resource for Dalit politicians. (See also Charsley 2002).


[Extracts to be included as available]

P. Muthaiah 2004. Dandora: The Madiga movement for equal identity and social justice in A.P., Social Action, 54, 2: 184-209

[pp 188-99]

Arundhatiya Bandhuseva Mandali was established in 1981 by first generation Madiga employees under the Presidentship of Dr. Kishan Lal, which inaugurated the era of prayers and petitions. There was a proposal to name the association as Madiga Sevamandali. That was discussed and rejected by a majority of members, in the grounds that the name ‘Madigavaru’ is a perverted form of ‘Madiguvarar’ which means ‘people below us’. Madhava Rao, former President of Bandhu Seva Mandali, organises Dasara Milap every year in the Twin Cities, a cultural function of Madigas [f]. Various cultural programmes were conducted on these occasions. Through this association the organisers strengthened the kin feeling among the Madigas in the Twin Cities (7). In 1982, the Mandali published a booklet with the title ‘Status of Arundhathiyas’ with detailed statistics showing the inequalities between Mala and Madiga sub-castes in various fields. Through this document, the Mandali demanded categorisation of SCs into A.B.C.D. groups for the distribution of reservation benefits in proportion to population of each sub-caste (8). This document marks the turning point in the Madiga movement. The Mandal had chosen prayer and petitions as a method to ventilate their demands. The Mandali made representation to the successive Chief Ministers of A.P. demanding proportional representation in all fields. Political response in the form of a promise came from Telugu Desam Party in the 1982 Assembly election.

Struggle Phase of Madiga Movement

Andhra Pradesh Madiga Sangarn was the first Dalit Association established with stigma-carrying sub-caste name, in the year 1982 under the leadership of Dr. Vidya Kumar (9). It began the militant struggle phase of the Madiga movement. This Sangam gave a number of representations to the governments in the 1980s for equal shares in the fields of education, employment and politics, by providing separate quota for Madigas. Its activists entered the State Assembly in 1982 while the session was going on and threw pamphlets from the visitors’ gallery, titled ‘Separate reservation for Madiga’. Consequently twelve activists of  the Madiga Sangam were convicted by State Assembly for throwing pamphlets in violation of the rules of Assembly proceedings (10). The activists also demanded the appointment of an inquiry commission for the redressal of Madigas’ grievances. After some time the Sangam gave up its struggle as its activists felt that categorisation would have to be done only by the Parliament of India.

Dakshina Bharatha Adijambhava/Arundathiya Samakhya was established in 1990 to organise the Madigas of South India to fight for their rights, with Bangalore as their Head Quarters (11). Sri D. Manjunath was elected as President, and Chikka Venkata Swamy and Dr. M. Jagannath of A.P. were elected as General Secretaries. Dr. N. Venkata Swamy and Dr. M. Jagannath were also elected as President and General Secretaries of the A.P. State wing. The mythological identity of Arundhathi and Jambavantha was chosen by the organisers as a common name acceptable to all sub-castes who were traditionally leather workers in South India. The A.P. wing organised three successful public meetings.

The then Chief Minister of A.P., N. Janardhan Reddy, promised to do justice to Madigas. The first notable meeting was held on 12th June 1992 at Gandhi Bhavan in Hyderabad (12). They also organised a public meeting in Nellore District of A.P. in 1994, with one lakh Madigas, and demanded categorisation of SCs into A.B.C.D. groups. The most significant meeting organised by Samakhya was held on 2nd May 1994 in Nizam College grounds of Hyderabad, at the instance of the Congress Government headed by Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy. During those days, the Congress party organised a series of sub-caste meetings of SCs/BCs/STs in A.P. to consolidate its vote bank after witnessing the success of the B.S.P. and the S.P. combine in U.P. In this particular meeting, Congress C.M. Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy criticized B.S.P. leader Kansi Ram and requested the Madigas not to listen to such north Indian leaders who criticized Gandhiji. Then the audience shouted ‘We listen! We listen!’ indicting the readiness of Madigas to follow the North Indian Madiga leader Kansi Ram and his Bahujan movement (13). A few days after this public meeting, Koneru Ranga Rao, a Madiga leader, was made Dy. Chief Minister of A.P. by the Congress Party with the sole purpose of retaining the Madigas with the Congress Party and stopping the growth of the B.S.P. in the state. It bears clear testimony to the fact that Madiga leaders of the Mandali and Samakhya worked as organic intellectuals and entered into bargaining politics and were successful in capturing some political space at various levels.

Assertion of Madiga Identity

The Dandora Movement emerged in changing socio-economic and political conditions of the state. The conditions prior to its launching clearly indicate factors that shaped the movement. By the 1980s, Madigas were released from leather goods work which they had inherited as their traditional occupation, as the landlords stopped buying the hand-made leather chappals and leather goods of Madigas and started buying from chappals made of synthetics and rubber from urban shops. As a result, Madigas who depended on leather work became unemployed. The Madigas feel that their due share from reservation benefits has been cornered by Malas. Anti- and pro-Mandal movements in the State have given rise to new terms of political discourse. Mandalisation of politics questioned the continuance of upper caste leadership in Marxist and non-Marxist parties. Naxalites like K.G. Sathya Murthy and Gaddar who were prominent leaders in the People’s War Group of CPI(ML) left the party over questions of caste politics. Mandal discourse reduced the caste blindness of Madiga youth working in Marxist and non-Marxist parties and it sharpened their caste consciousness (14). During the early 1990s, BSP’s slogan ‘Vote hamara raj tumhara nahi chelega, nahi chelega’ had gone to every Madiga street and enlightened them on the importance of their votes as a source of political power in India. The whole process sharpened Madiga consciousness, particularly of the youth, in favour of struggle for their rights.

The Madiga movement entered its struggle phase with Dandora. This phase was led by unemployed full-time activists with a different outlook on disabilities suffered by the Madigas in the traditional socio-economic and political structure. Most of its leaders were former Marxists who left the party as a result of Mandalisation and Bahujanisation of state politics.

Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi emerged as a fighting organisation in these conditions, with special qualities of its own in the history of social movements. This organisation was established by 20 youths at a small kutcha house in a small village, by name ‘Eedumudi’ in Prakasam District of Andhra Pradesh under the leadership of Manda Krishna Madiga on 7th July 1994 (15). The participants of the meeting worked out a strategy to develop M.R.P.S. step  by step from village to Mandal, Mandal to District and from District to State level. They resolved to adopt the philosophy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Babu Jagjeevan Ram as the guiding spirit for Madigas’ rights.

Struggle for Equal Identity and Social Justice

Madigas’ struggle for equal opportunities is the struggle for equal identity and social justice, from the very beginning. Due to their relative backwardness, the Madigas are not able to avail reservation benefits equally, compared to their co-sufferers, the Malas. It is a fact that the special-treatment benefits have often been appropriated by the more educated, articulate and organised in S.C. cornmunities Jagjeevan (16). As per the Census of India, the Madigas constitute 37,37,609 (46.94%) and the Malas 32,63,675 (40.99%) of the SCs population. But the Malas had been cornering reservation benefits disproportionate to their population. […] From 1,07,579 matriculates, 53.15% belong to Mala caste, 28.02% to Madigas, 15.58% belong to Adi-Andhra, 1.33% Adi-Dravida, 1.90% to others and a negligible 0.002% to the Dakkal community. From 14,415 graduates, 56.28% belong to Mala and 25.07% belong to Madiga sub-castes. From the rest of the graduates, 16.21%, 1.46%, 0.96% and 0.006% belongs to Adi-Andhra, others, Adi-Dravida and Dakkal communities respectively. It is evident from these data that there is glaring inequality between major sub-caste groups, with Mala at the top and Dakkal at bottom in the educational ladder of Scheduled Castes (17). The Scheduled Castes have been reserved seats in State Assembly in proportion to their population: 39 out of 294 Assembly seats. Out of these, 70.50% and 29.50% of seats were represented by Malas and Madigas respectively. It shows that, from the days of Independence Malas have been appropriating political positions disproportionate to their population and maintaining their dominance over Madigas throughout. [Table 1 omitted]

Representative bureaucracy is one of the features of pluralism. It is a necessary condition that every social and economic group has to be represented in the bureaucracy in a plural society. But the data pertaining to Scheduled Caste show representation of Malas is (75.90%) more than seventy five percent in public sector undertakings while Madigas have less than twenty five percent (24.10%). It demonstrates a growing monopoly of one or two Scheduled Castes in the reserved quota of jobs, defeating the very purpose of a social justice policy. Inequality between Madigas and Malas in appropriation of reservation benefits in the reserved field of education employment and politics in 1980s negated equal identity and social justice for Madigas.

Opposing these inequalities and for equal distribution of reservation benefits, Dandora held a number of programmes and organised Madigas demanding categorisation of SCs into A.B.C.D. groups over the last nine years. ‘Chalo Nizam College’ on March 2nd 1996, ‘Chalo Assembly’ on September 2nd 1997, and Mahapadayathra in June 1997 are remarkable in the history of the Dalit movement in A.P. In the first public meeting, Dandora crystallised public opinion in favour of categorisation of SCs into A.B.C.D. groups, mobilizing about 5 lakhs of Madigas in the Nizam College Grounds in Hyderabad. In the second programme, Chalo Assembly, Dandora was successful in forcing the Government to appoint the Justice P. Ramchander Raju Commission of Inquiry to go into the differential benefits of reservation for Mala and Madiga sub-castes and to recommend the need for categorisation of SCs into groups for equal distribution of reservation benefits. The third programme, Mahapadayathra (Long March) was a novel method adopted by Dandora to shape public opinion in support of categorisation. The movement spread to every nook and corner of the state. The leader of Dandora, Manda Krishna Madiga walked for 1052 km starting from Naravaripalli, the native village of Chief Minister N. Chandra Babu Naidu, to his official residence in Hyderabad in Padayathra(18). This yathra revealed a massive response from the Madiga community to the call given by their leader. On the last day of the Padayathra, June 6th 1997, he reached Hyderabad along with lakhs of Madigas and proved Dandora to be a pioneering social movement in contemporary India. After having witnessed the popular support for the Madigas, the T.D.P. government issued orders categorizing SCs into A.B.C.D. groups.

It is necessary to understand the struggle of Madigas with the spirit of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s social justice philosophy. Through reservation he desired to break the monopoly of twice-born castes. In the Constituent Assembly of India he stated, there shall be reservations in favour of certain communities which have not had a proper place in the Administration. The Administration for historical reasons being controlled by one community or a few communities should disappear, and others also must have an opportunity of getting into public services (19). Dr. Ambedkar felt breaking the monopoly of one or two communities is necessary for the realisation of social justice: monopoly is the foundation of inequality, whether it is the monopoly of one or a few upper castes or monopoly of one or a few Scheduled Castes or Tribes. Now the Madigas have been fighting for categorisation of SCs into groups to break the monopoly of one or two Scheduled Castes, this to facilitate equal distribution of reservation benefits among the 59 Scheduled Castes in A.P. In fact the struggle of Madigas is a struggle for respectable identity, equality and the social justice. It was argued, equal identity is equality. Identity cannot be separated from equality, nor equality from social justice. Nor can equality and social justice be separated from identity (20). The Dandora movement, a pioneering plural-identity movement, triggered similar movements in A.P.

Plural Identity and Principles of Social Justice

There are 59 sub-castes in the list of Scheduled Castes in A.P. Every sub-caste has its own identity and existence. The first classification of SCs was done by J.H. Hutton, Census Commissioner of India in 1931, who prepared a list of depressed classes from these sub-castes. This list was adopted by the Government of India Act of 1935 for providing special protection to the depressed classes. It is notable that the President of India promulgated the Scheduled Castes Order in 1950 based on the list prepared by J.H. Hutton, following a number of tests to designate Scheduled Castes primarily based on the principles of commensality practices (21). The Dandora movement demanded further categorisation of the castes as the list provided by President did not ensure equal distribution of reservation benefits among 59 Scheduled Castes. The logic that was followed by J.H. Hutton in the designation of Depressed Classes was taken to its logical end in the categorisation of SCs.

The logic of categorisation of SCs in A.P. is based on the following principles (22).

a)     The principle of touchable groups: The caste system divided society into touchable and untouchable groups. The Panchamas have been untouchables to all four varnas. On the basis of the same traditional caste values, the Malas and Madigas are also divided into two untouchable groups. In other words, Brahmanic values of purity and pollution percolated down to SCs and divided them into untouchable and touchable groups. Madiga allied castes and Mala allied castes are touchable groups.

b)      The principle of satellite living: Traditional caste values divided Scheduled Castes into Malas and Madigas living in Malapally (village) and Madiga gudem (collective residence) respectively. Bindla and Mala Ayyavaru are priestly castes of Madigas and Malas respectively. The respective priests believe that they have common genesis and they share common sufferings and values. These two satellite castes are considered as groups and the quantum of reservations is decided on the principles of satellite living.

c)     Principle of parallels: The caste system placed different castes at different places, living in various part of the country. Castes with equal status are brought under one group though they migrated from different States. The Mangs in Maharashtra and Madigas in A.P. have equal status in the Panchama hierarchy by virtue of their traditional occupation. Such parallel castes are grouped together for classification of SCs.

d)      Principle of common name: Common name is the feature of a tribe of people. They have common history, common God, etc. All those castes with prefix or suffixes like Mala, Sale, Dakkal and Madiga are recognized as groups and reservations benefits are distributed between these groups.

e)      Principle of parity in traditional occupations: The traditional occupation of sub-castes has been the basis for caste hierarchy. Varnadharma allotted a particular traditional occupation to each caste in society. The ritualistic pandits allotted particular grades to these occupations, and explain them in terms of the notions of purity and pollution. On the basis of traditional occupations, the SCs are categorized into groups for distribution of reservation benefits.

f)        The principle of protection of group interest: The quantum of reservation has been decided in proportion to the population of SCs, against the monopoly of one or two castes. Similarly, no single sub-caste should be allowed to corner reservation benefits disproportionate to their population. Methods should be adopted for the protection of the interests of each sub-caste. There are Scheduled Castes with a population ranging from a thousand to lakhs of people in each group. A sub-caste in a group with a lower percentage of population should not be allowed to comer the benefits that are due to other sub-castes. For the protection of interests of each caste, the un-represented, under-represented and adequately represented castes should be identified. The first and second priority should be given to unrepresented and under-represented castes respectively in allotment of reservation benefits in each group. These priorities should be given in alphabetical order of sub-castes in the respective A.B.C.D. groups [see table below].

The Commission agreed to protect group interests of satellite committees. But did not agree to protect the interest of sub-castes within the group on the principle of priority. This principle was not accepted by the Inquiry Commission. The minority castes with A.B.C.D groups are demanding further categorisation of groups.

g)       The more the insult and humiliation, the more should be the protection: The Dakkals, Rellis and Mehtars have been subjected to isolation and humiliation both by Chaturvarnas and Panchamas who treat them as untouchables. Their population is meagre but they deserve special protection by way of providing more benefits not necessarily in proportion to their population. The Commissioner, after thorough study of the principles of social structure and traditional occupation, recommended the categorisation of SCs into the following four groups (23):- 

Group A

Relli Group

Sl. No.    Name of the Caste                    Traditional Occupation (24)         Total of Sub-caste

1.             Havuri                                        Basket makers                                                       756

2.             Chachathi                                  Fruit selling and scavenging                           5,244

3.             Chandala                                   NA (25)                                                                   184

4.             Danadasi                                   Village watchman                                               5,410

5.             Dom, Combara, Paidi               Weavers, musicians, drum beaters               23,214

6.             Chasi, Haddi Relli, Chachandi     Fruit and vegetable sellers,

                                                                    sweeping and scavenging                               1,872

7.            Godagali                                     Basket making, bamboo workers                     2,212
8.             Mehtar                                       Scavenging                                                         4,553

9.             Paki, Moti, Thoti                      Scavenging                                                         7,876

10.           Pamidi                                        NA                                                                        5,647

11.           Relli                                            Scavenging, fruit sellers                                  76,329

12.          Sapru                                          Scavengers and fruit sellers                                 592
                                                                                            Total                                        1,33,689


Group B

Madiga Group

SL No.  Name of the Caste                      Traditional Occupation                      Total of sub-caste

1.             Arundhatiya                              NA                                                                       78,496

2.             Beda Jangam, Budgajangam   Hunting, flowers and cultivators                    12,024
3.             Bindla                                          Priests of Madigas, appeasers of

goddesses                               13,589

4.             Chamar, Mochi                        Shoe makers and leather workers                      12,881

5.             Chambar                                   Shoe makers and leather workers                           519

6.             Dakkal Madiga, Dakkalwar   Mendicants, bards of Madigas, leather

                                                                                                workers                                       1,598

7.             Dhor                                          Leather and tanning works                                   2,452

8.             Godari                                       Leather and shoe makers                                         834

9.             Jaggali                                      Leather workers and agriculture labourers            983         

10.           Jambavulu                                Fore telling, appeasers of goddesses                    961

12.           Madiga                                     Leather, tanning, chappal making                 35,72,622

13.           Madiga Dasu, Masteen         Spiritual advisers, acrobatics, story tellers

to Madigas                                 5,450

14.           Mang                                        Drum beaters, basket making, mat making,

                                                                                tanning, jugglers, snake charmers          8,007                     

15.           Mang Garodi                           Snake charming, buffalo shaving, acrobats,

 jugglers                                         107

16.           Matangi [g]                              Begging, singing, tanning                                        323

17.           Samagara                                  Leather and tanning works                                   1,845

18.           Sindhollu, Chindlollu              Drama, dancing and prostitution                         2,583
                                                                                                      Total                                37,37,609


Group C

Mala Group

Sl. No.    Name of the Caste                  Traditional Occupation                       Total of sub-caste

1.             Adi Dravida                         NA                                                                    1,00,382

2.             Anamukh                              NA                                                                             76

3.             Arya Mala                            NA                                                                        1,395

4.             Arvamala                              NA                                                                      22,937

5.             Baniki                                    Village watchman, palanquin bearers,                 

                                                                                               watchman                          11,844

6.             Byagara                                Watchman, weaving course cloth                   1,740

8.             Ellamalwaru, Yallmmalwandlu    Vagrant caste                                                358   

9.             Gosangi                                 Mendicants                                                        7,653

10.           Holeya                                   Agriculture labourers, serfs, weaving

                                                                                             course cloth                             665

11.           Holeya Dasari                       Begging                                                                 620

12.           Madasi Kuruva                     Sheep and goat rearing                                    3,550

13.           Mahar                                     Weaving course cloth, village watch,

labourers                           11,486

14.           Mala                                        Watchman, labourers                                28,94,643

15.           Mala Dasari                            Spiritual advisers to Malas, agricultural

                                                                                labourers                                           18,416

16.          Mala Dasu                               Spiritual advisers, acrobatics, story tellers  8,335                     

17.           Mala Hannai                           Vagrant caste                                                      120

18.           Malajangam                            Agriculture labourers                                     4,895

19.           Mala Masthi                           Acrobatics                                                          474

20.           Mala Sale, Nethakani             Weavers, agricultural labourers                 18,272

21.           Malasanyai                              NA                                                                       300

22.           Manne                                      Village watchmen                                         64,668

23.           Mandala                                   Agricultural labourers                                      840

24.           Pambada, Pambanda               Devil dancers and musicians to Malas      2,333

25.           Samban                                      NA                                                                  3,233

                                                                                                 Total                         32,63,6715


Group D

  Adi-Andhra Group

  SL No.   Name of the Caste                 Traditional Occupation                        Total Of Sub-caste

1.             Adi-Andhra                             NA                                                               6,98,860

                   (Malas and Madigas)

2.             Masthi                                      Dancers, acrobats, carpenters                     2,922

3.             Mitha Ayyalwar                      Priests and spiritual advisors to

                                                                                        Madigas and Malas                 2,777 
4.             Panchama, Pariah                    NA                                                                   9,265

5.             Unclassified in Census           NA                                                             1,12,933                   

                                                                                            Total                                  8,26,757


                                                                                Grand Total                                79,61,780


The respectable identity movement of Madigas launched by L.C. Guruswamy eight decades ago entered the struggle phase with Dandora and succeeded in emboldening Madigas in using their caste name as a suffix, like ‘Reddy’, ‘Rao’ and ‘Sharma’. Once, the word ‘Madiga’ was a term of abuse, symbol of pollution and stigma, but today Madigas proudly say that they are Madigas, forgetting the word as abusive and the stigma attached to it. Slowly the word is turning into a symbol of struggle and source of political power. Inspired by the Dandora movement, Lambada and Koya tribes, Yadava, Gouda and other backward castes came forward to fight for their rights in Andhra Pradesh, using their caste names as their suffix.

Malas have been enjoying reservation benefits on the grounds of social and educational backwardness, but they have been opposing the demand of Madigas to take the same logic to the logical end and categorise SCs into A.B.C.D. groups for equitable distribution of the reservation benefits among the 59 Scheduled Castes. The upper castes advance unity arguments whenever lower castes demand their due share. By advancing the same argument Malas proved themselves to be Dalit Brahmanic in their attitude, in order to continue their monopoly of reservation benefits.

The triple identities, Arundhathi-Jambavantha, the Madiga and Dandora, worked as an ideology for mobilising the mass of people for all the public meetings organised by the Dandora Movement. Their traditional identity which projects them as the first rulers of the land gave them a feeling of pride in asserting their respectable identity and high image through the movement. Today, common Madigas also feel that they were the first born on Indian land, reminding themselves of the place of Arundathi and Jambavantha in Indian mythology.

The schedule in Scheduled Caste is not a single caste: it is a list of castes. Every sub-caste in the list has an independent identity, having its own place, privileges and occupation in the structured plural society. Dandora won the battle in proving a need for the protections of rights of every sub-caste, by their categorisation on the basis of their inherited diverse occupations and backwardness. The Madigas are successful in forcing the State Government as a plural legal authority to concede their demands and formulate the categorisation policy. The movement worked, believing in the pluralistic principle that decentralised local authority is more competent to formulate a social policy since the State Government is more informed of the socio-economic problems of deprived groups than the Central Government. It further established a precedent in formulating plural principles of social justice on the basis of plural identity. The argument of Malas in support of a singleness of Scheduled Castes proved to be a futile exercise in the plural democratic set up. It is a classic example of how a developed community or caste makes use of existing law and machinery to defend its stand on a public policy and advances monistic arguments for the further development of the caste or group.

Dandora is a movement for equal identity and social justice. It believed that rights of the weakest among weak, rights of every caste whether it is minor caste or major caste, have to be protected equally. Dandora demonstrated that monopoly is the foundation of inequality and emphasized that monopoly of any form, whether it is the monopoly of Brahmin’s or monopoly of Scheduled Castes, has to be broken for realisation of equal identity and equal justice. In a plural society every caste or group has to assert itself for protection of its identity and rights. When a disadvantaged group questions the privileges of an advanced group, it naturally gives scope for divisions in the society. These divisions can be dissolved by finding remedy for the causes of division in disproportionate distribution of reservation benefits by categorisation of SCs. Reconciliation of more advanced groups is the solution for divisions of SCs in A.P.

Plural acceptance of single caste leader is a pre-condition for success of pluralist democracy. General rejection of the leadership of lower castes is apolitical crisis in caste structured Indian society. Rejection of the Madiga leadership for Mahajan Front tells transitory nature of caste alliances in electoral politics in caste ridden Indian Society. The experiment of Mahajan Front concludes that caste based pluralistic politics continues with emergence of new alliances like Mahajan Sangharashana Samithi and Mahajan Party till political consciousness of electorate reaches the higher level maturity to accept lower caste leader and sub-caste leaders committed to general interests or interests of all castes.

[Chapter in progress]

Dandora: Resonance of Deceived Hearts
The CD of an Anveshi project by Panthukala Srinivas, 2006
The CD of an Anveshi project by Panthukala Srinivas, 2006

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