The Badagas are indigenous people inhabiting the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu. The term 'Badagu' in old Tamil means 'North', so 'Badaga' should mean 'Northener'. They form the largest community in the Nilgiri region, with a population of approximately 350,000 encompassing some 370-odd villages and smaller settlements. They are most likely Dravidian by descent and they are by religion, hindus of the Saiva sect. They are agricultural people and by far the most numerous and wealthy of the hilly area people. Many have relocated to towns and cities of the region, and earn income from urban-style employment.
Paniyans(which literally means "workers" in local usage) are found in Gudalur taluk and many more in Kerala. They are scattered throughout Gudalur Taluk and are one of the most backward tribal communities. Under an age old system, most of the Paniyans were working under local land owners for low wages with little and no liberty to work for others for competitive wages.
After Independence, however, majority of the Paniyans broke away from their masters and started working as casual agricultural labourers, bamboo cutters and estate labourers. The Paniyans, by and large, live in poverty irrespective of whether they are bonded or not.
This tribal community is also found only in Gudalur Taluk, they are like Paniyans, farm labourers and their condition is no better than, of Paniyans.