Context: The Hakki Pikki tribe has captured national headlines after 31 members of the tribe were left stranded in Sudan where war suddenly broke out. The 31 had reached Sudan on a routine business trip to sell Ayurvedic medicines when fighting broke out among military factions in the country.
About Hakki Pikki tribe
- According to SPPEL (Scheme for Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages) established by Ministry of Education (Government of India), ‘Hakki-Pikki’ is one of the major tribal communities in Karnataka. The population is predominantly found in Shivamogga, Davanagere and Mysuru districts of Karnataka.
- In Kannada, the word ‘Hakki’ stands for ‘bird’ and ‘Pikki’ stands for the verb ‘to catch’. Therefore, the community is known as the ‘bird catcher,’ which is their traditional occupation.
- According to the 2011 census, the population of Hakki-Pikki is 11,892. After their trade of bird hunting was outlawed under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Their traditional habitat was taken away when the government established wildlife sanctuaries and national parks to conserve forests.
- They are also known for knowledge of traditional and herbal medicine in high demand in African countries as they are less expensive than allopathic medicines. The popularity of the medicines turned the once bird-hunters to global traders of herbal medicine.
- The Hakki-Pikkis are said to be a matriarchal group.
- Despite being surrounded by Dravidian languages and living in southern India, the community speaks an Indo-Aryan language. Their mother tongue was designated ‘Vaagri’ by scholars. They communicate in ‘Vaagri’ at home but speak in Kannada when conducting daily business.
- UNESCO has listed ‘Vaagri’ as one of the endangered languages.
- The community is known for the strange names they give for their children. A father of a newborn often names his child based on the first thing that comes to his mind. The community has members with names such as Congress, Mysore Pak, Cycle etc.
Read also: List of Major Tribes in India