Idiga or Ediga is a Hindu community of people concentrated in south central areas of Karnataka. Some Idigas are involved in soma and Ayurvedic medicine.[citation needed]

Regions with significant populations

The traditional occupation of Idiga people was that of toddy tapping.[1] They are mostly concentrated in Malnad, Shimoga district. Similar but culturally distinct toddy tapping communities, called the Billava and Deevaru, exist in South Kanara and southern Karnataka, respectively. There had been attempts to cause these various communities, of which the Deevaru are considered to be socially the lowest-ranked, to cohere politically but these had petered out by the 1980s.[2]

The Idiga were categorised as an Other Backwards Class (OBC) in the 1980s, when they constituted around 2.5 per cent of the population in Karnataka. Despite their low numbers, eleven Idiga people were elected as Members of the Legislative Assembly in the 1985 elections, making them the largest single OBC group in the Legislative Assembly of Karnataka. They had six Members in 1978 and eight in 1983.[1] They remain a significant political force and were described as a part of the AHINDA bloc that significantly helped the Indian National Congress party in the 2013 Assembly elections.[3]

Significant number of Idigas have become very wealthy and powerful by extending their involvement in toddy tapping to that of excise contracting, distilling and brewing on contract to large businesses, but the economic base of the community remains limited mostly to that of liquor. Idigas of Neeravari Pradesh of Karnataka own large number of fertile land making them earn large source of income.[4] Politicians such as Sarekoppa Bangarappa, themselves of the toddy-tapping community,[a] have been able to use the support of these prosperous people.[8]

Idiga also practised bone-setting and, together with some members of the Vokkaliga community, are relatively dominant in that field.[9]

The Kannada-language Prajavani newspaper was founded by an Idiga liquor contractor who had "made some money in the war" and, as of 1997, was still controlled by his descendants.[10]



  1. ^ Some sources say that Bangarappa was a Deevaru[5] or Billava,[6] others that he was an Idiga.[7]


  1. ^ a b Natraj, V. K. (2007). "Backwards Classes and Minorities in Karnataka Politics". In Ramaswamy, Harish (ed.). Karnataka Government and Politics. Concept Publishing Company. p. 407. ISBN 978-8-18069-397-7.
  2. ^ Mathew, George (1984). Shift in Indian Politics: 1983 Elections in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Concept Publishing Company. p. 59.
  3. ^ Patagundi, S. S.; Desai, Prakash (2015). "Karnataka: Change and Continuity in 2014". In Wallace, Paul (ed.). India's 2014 Elections: A Modi-led BJP Sweep. SAGE Publications India. pp. 318–319. ISBN 978-9-35150-517-4.
  4. ^ Damodaran, H. (2008). India's New Capitalists: Caste, Business, and Industry in a Modern Nation. Springer. p. 202. ISBN 978-0-23059-412-8.
  5. ^ Mathew, George (1984). Shift in Indian Politics: 1983 Elections in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Concept Publishing Company. p. 59.
  6. ^ Manor, James (15 September 1984). "Blurring the Lines between Parties and Social Bases: Gundu Rao and Emergence of a Janata Government in Karnataka". Economic and Political Weekly. 19 (37): 1623–1632. JSTOR 4373574.
  7. ^ Raghavan, E.; Manor, James (2012). Broadening and Deepening Democracy: Political Innovation in Karnataka. Routledge. p. 270. ISBN 978-1-13603-518-0.
  8. ^ Osella, Filippo; Osella, Caroline (2000). Social Mobility In Kerala: Modernity and Identity in Conflict. Pluto Press. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-74531-693-2.
  9. ^ Unnikrishnan, P. M.; Kumar, H. P. Lokesh; Shankar, Darshan (2012). "Traditional Orthopaedic Practitioners' Place in Contemporary Health". In Sheikh, Kabir; George, Asha (eds.). Health Providers in India: On the Frontlines of Change. Routledge. p. 188. ISBN 978-1-13651-682-5.
  10. ^ Jeffrey, Robin (22 March 1997). "Kannada: "We Fake It There Is Competition"". Economic and Political Weekly. 32 (12): 566–570. JSTOR 4405192.

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