The Indian Caste System is a very rigid order. Under such conditions it is very surprising to note that the Nadars as a Community have made themselves upwardly mobile- moving from a lower rung to a remarkably higher level, economically, politically, academically and socially. Hence they hog the limelight today like the yesteryears' Kamarajar who achieved politically many milestones.
When one looks back, he would be stupefied by the transition of the Nadars from humble toddy -tappers to the level of a force to reckon with. Business and Professional interests brought them to the happening urban areas. The Nadars proved their mettle by adapting themselves to the changes which were moulding the society from traditional to modern.
The Nadars are generally found throughout the Southern state of Tamilnadu. By the end of 2003 , it is estimated that they would number around 10 million. Their original area of concentration were the southern districts of Tamilnadu. But varied business and academic interests brought them to settle down in Coimbatore and Chennai and many more cities/towns as well.
The Nadars can be divided into two main groups- the Northern Nadars and the Southern Nadars. The Northern Nadars are those from the Madurai, Virdunagar, Sivakasi area and the Southern ones originated from the Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari areas. Another Category of division is based on religion as Christian and Hindu Nadars.
The Christian Nadars are mainly concentrated in the southern belts while the Hindu ones are found dispersed throughout the state. But the majority are Hindus. A miniscule portion even embraced Islam in the 19th century in the coastal belts of Tirunelveli District. About 10% of the Nadar population are Protestant Christians.
The Nadars are a very hard working people. They have been well known for their perseverance, untiring energy, commitments and dedication to their business. They have become highly modernized. Many of them are qualified from Engineering, Medical Institutions and Business Schools. They are emerging in a changed manner leaving aside their traditional shackles and are forcefully looking into the future relating to manufacture and distribution of many modern products and services.
Throughout history the Nadars have been actively interested in wealth, power and prestige. Contrary to the orthodox view of the Indian society, they have translated their goals which they have pursued actively and competitively, rather fatalistically accepting their lot or fulfilling a primary co operative role.