Tribes in Nellore district (Yanadhis, Erukalas & other tribes)

I find this following information reveals the real condition of tribal communities from all aspects spread over in Gudur sub vision which will help us to understand their issues and  show us the correct ways and means of improving their lives. This information has been shared by Association for Rural Development, an organisation working among tribes in our division.


Tribals in NELLORE district


Nellore district is the largest tribal populated district in Andhra Pradesh, comprising total scheduled tribe population 2, 42,257 (2001 census).   Tribals are found in all the 46 mandals ofNellore district. As per 1991 census 22 tribes were listed with 56933 families and population of 214062.  Out of these major tribes are Yanadi, Yerukula, Konda Kapu, Lambada/Sugali, Reddidora, Kammara, Chenchu and Mannedora.  Among these tribes “YANADIS” form the second largest group and constitute one eight of the total tribal population of the state.  Within 100 years period (1901-1215492001 -242225) Yanadi population is steadily increasing. Yanadi tribes are found more in Nellore district than Chittoor and Prakasam districts. Tabe-1 shows the data of Yanadi community. Yanadis chief residence place is Sriharikota.                  


Table-2: Showing the Yanadi and total tribal population in Nellore, Chittoor and Prakasam



District Name

Yanadi Population


Total ST Population

















Source: Census 2001



CHARACTERSTICS OF YANADI TRIBES – the proposed community to work with


3.1 Origin of Yanadis and their traditional culture

There are many Pre-Dravidian Tribals in Southern India among whom the Yanadis, whose origins are very vague, and they found living in utter poverty. With the invasion of the Dravidians lost their identity, their language and got mixed with the people who subdued them, to such and extent that they forgot their special traits.  Not having any script, earlier they were leading nomadic life style. Yanadis inhibit the Telugu region.


Yanadis have been divided into 4 sub-castes namely Reddy-Yanadi, Challa Yanadi, Kappala Yanadis and Adavi Yanadis. The Reddy Yanadis are called because when the Reddy kings ruled over parts of Andhra, they employed these tribals as their trackers and bearers of arms when they went for hunting. The name Challa Yanadis was given because they were doing menial jobs and working as scavengers were give Challa (buttermilk) as payment. The “Kappala Yanadis are mostly inland fisher men who hunt in ponds, streams and sell their catches near by villages. At one point of time they were catching frogs, which were being exported to foreign countries. The Adavi Yanadis are those who even now live in forests far away from human habitation. This classification varies district to district.  


In Nellore district Challa Yanadis and Reddy-Yanadi are found. Among them Challa Yanadis are most vulnerable.  The present proposal is to work with both Challa Yanadis and Reddy Yanadis.




The Yanadi men used to wear only a strip of cloth called “gochipatha”.  Women wore sari from the waist to knee and covering the breast, usually they buy old clothes from the market, men never use any oil for hair, look like matted hair.  Women maintain their hair; they love to have flowers all the time.



Habitation and housing  

Earlier Yanadis did not live in regular villages. They build portable and conical huts with small opening near streams and canals. The habitation reflects their nomadic nature.  Since last 4-5 years they started settling in habitations, located out of the main villages. The home stead land was given by the government.


Housing: Earlier they use to live in round and cone shaped hut made of palm leaves and local bushes.  In 1984 after a cyclone 2-5% Yanadis were given 1 room 1 kitchen pucca house. Latter in 2006 housing scheme was introduced by government in which first the community need to complete the basement with their own contribution to get further support from government.  The families not having food to eat faced problem to get government benefit.  Then reddies and panchayat leaders took the contract and constructed bad quality houses not feasible to stay by the Yanadi community.  There is a problem of water leakage during rainy season.  Thus 50-60 per cent of Yanadi families are still living in huts.  The construction of huts also becomes difficult due to lack of availability palm trees.



Occupation and Food Habits.

After the forest cover got over and came down to plain areas the only hunting available to them now, is the hunting of rats and snakes. They wait until the harvesting of paddy, locate different rat burrows, catch the rodents and also dig up the paddy stored by the rodents in these burrows. In this way they manage to collect paddy for their livelihood.  


Latter Yanadis were also used as agriculral wage labour work by the ‘reddy’ community (large farmers) and were also engaged to kill the rats from their agriculture field to protect crops.  Yanadis also eat rat meat.


Another occupation for Yanadis is fishing; it is confined mostly to ponds and field channels but those living along side the Pulicat lake, fishing in the brakish water lake. Of late some of the Yanadis are even venturing out to sea fishing but this mostly as workers on the boats of fishermen.



Matrimonial and other practices.

The matrimonial relationships among the Yanadis are not binding they can break at any moment.  A man can marry any number of women, and a woman can also leave her husband. In this process their children get affected.  Children are some time left to their fate. There are cases such children were brought out by grand parents if they have. Widow re-marriages are common.  Another problem is that there are many single women without any support (widow or not) whose husbands left them and settled with some other woman.  This is slowly changing the number of family separation has come down.




Traditional medicinal knowledge

Their knowledge of trees and herbs is phenomenal. They still use plants and herbs as medicine for snake bite, head aches and other disease.




Before 4000 year they use to live in the Veligonga forest/hills range in Chittoor, Nellore and Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh (AP).  Then when Aryans came to India they were called ‘Yanadulu’ (means orphans’.   They are also called as ‘Chenchus’ in Nallamala forest area in AP.


Historically the abundance of natural resources in Veligonga forest nurtured the generations of Yanadi community that provided them food shelter and all other needs.  But with the invasion of the Dravidians they lost their peaceful life in Veligonda, they started moving to different areas.  Latter other kings used them as their trackers and bearers of arms when they went for hunting.  During the British period they were also used as laborers to lay railway tracks.  


The Reddies (landlords) used them as agricultural and domestic laborers.  Thus Yanadis lost their original home and distributed scattered in different plain areas, settled near canals and streams and their settlement was nomadic in nature till recent times.  Their habitations are found out side the main villages.  The Reddy community live in the main village, with all the facilities, like drinking water, school, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), electricity etc.  Yanadis living in the small habitations are deprived of all these. Yanadis are left with only options to serve Reddies as domestic labourer and agriculture labourer.  They are also used to protect their fields from rats.  More over Yanadis were made as bonded labourer against loan at the rate of 100-120 % per annum.  Reddi-Yanadis were taken as domestic workers, women were sexually abused.  The Challa Yanadis were used as scavengers; children were also forced to do labour work.  In recent times 2002 with the support from Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA-Yanadi) children started going to schools but they are also discriminated in the schools.  Particularly the challa Yanadi children lacking proper uniform they are abused by their teachers and other children resulting in school drop out.


In this process they lost their identity, their language and got mixed with the people who subdued them, to such and extent that they forgot their special traits.  They were never allowed to united compare to other tribes.  The way outsiders, upper caste/class (reddies) treated them, abused, sexual harassment of adolescent and women, atrocity against men and children since years made the Yanadi believe that that is their normal life. They adapted the culture of silence, even if they are beaten, women are sexually exploited still they will keep quite.  These characteristics were observed by the outsiders and exploited them further.  


More over during 1970’s as part of land settlement the excess land from reddy communities were redistributed in the name of Yanadi tribes.  But in the whole process Reddies never allowedpossession of the land to Yanadis.  Even Yanadis were not informed that they were allotted land and have patta in their names.  Till today those Yanadi’s land are in the control of big farmers. Yanadi communities are laborer in their own land.  The entire agricultural subsidy and other benefits related to agriculture development are enjoyed by the reddy community. Yanadis are taken to the banks and government officials to put thumb impression on the receipt of the benefits.  Even few are aware of this but not in a position claim.  



Present scenario of the Yanadis in the project area

In the proposed 10 mandals of Nellore district there are only two types of Yanadis; Challa and Reddy-Yanadi.  The Reddy-Yanadis are also called as ‘Manchi’ Yanadi.  The Challa Yanadis and reddy (Manchi) Yanadis live in different habitations of a village.  Today Challa Yanadis are engaged in agriculture labour work and some times fishing in small ponds. If there is no wage labour work they also depend on begging.  But reddy-Yanadi never goes for begging, and they mostly depend on reddis land, cutting the trees, etc.  Around 70-80% is engaged in agriculture labour out of which 60-70% are bonded laborer.  Another 20-30 % of the Yanadi community do little agriculture, masonry, rickshaw pulling in the towns and few in the hotel washing utensils and doing domestic work in the towns. Around 40% of Yanadi tribes in the district depend upon seasonal (three months Oct-Dec) fishing in the sea, Pulicat lake, canals, tanks and ponds. Both women and men go for fishing. Women go village to village for selling, some men also sale in nearby town.  


In most of the villages tribal house holds  are very small in number, than higher caste house holds (called reddys) For e.g.: in Cherlopalle village of Manubole mandal there are 400 families  of  reddys, living in the main village, where as 20 Challa Yanadis and 25 reddi Yanadis families are living in the out skirts of the village.  Another threatening situation is that   there is no coordination between these two tribes.   This village stratification reveals whose domination prevails in the village. 50% of children of Yanadis work as child labors in the village. Since Yanadis are innocent, illiterates, economically dependent, socially not united, other create conflicts among Yanadis.  After conflicts among themselves some families not able to withstand the power of others, they leave the village and settle some other area.

Since there is an opportunity in Panchayat for tribal woman to contest in gram panchayat elections, land lords or political party leaders use this opportunity encourage women to contest in the elections.  After she become Sarpanch other completely control the power and she remains playing dummy role.

The Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) for Yanadis has been established during 2002. There are different government schemes for them, but all these reach to rich and non tribals.  Thus Yanadis are still deprived of the following government entitlements and their conditions are most vulnerable even after 63 years on Independence.


By Message from Sub Collector Posted in Population

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