Jallikattu: A Lesson For Everyone

An objective opinion on Jallikattu (Yeru Thaluvuthal)

An objective opinion on Jallikattu (Yeru Thaluvuthal)
An objective opinion on Jallikattu (Yeru Thaluvuthal)

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]J[/dropcap]allikattu, for the uninitiated, is a sport of taming bulls unique to villages in Tamil Nadu, played post-Pongal (Sankaranthi outside Tamil Nadu), with over 1000s of years of history. There are many variations, but all of them are risky for the players, and there’s some risk for the bulls as well. Hundreds of players have died in the last decade during jallikattu, while some bulls have sustained injuries.

Those who support jallikattu argue that it is part of Tamil culture; the bulls have been reared as family members with love and affection…

Animal activists including Ms Maneka Gandhi took the issue to courts wanting jallikattu to be banned. The Supreme Court (SC) banned it in 2014. Subsequently, there have been massive uproars about this ban across Tamil Nadu, mainly during the Pongal season (mid January), with most political parties and several other celebrities (like film actors) strongly opposing the ban.

The argument of those opposed to jallikattu is that it leads to cruelty to the bulls involved. Those who support jallikattu argue that it is part of Tamil culture; the bulls have been reared as family members with love and affection, and so they care more for the bulls than anyone else. They say the bulls almost never die; only in a few cases, a small number of people sustain injuries or die; so, it can be permitted with sufficient safeguards. They argue that since far worse treatment of animals is allowed (e.g., their mass feeding restricting their movements), and even killing animals for consumption and even export are allowed, jallikattu ban is hardly logical.

Surely, the supporters of jallikattu have a point. It appears that the SC could have found a via media solution, stipulating conditions for its conduct. Many believe that the SC hasn’t been able to logically establish the case for a blanket ban, though it has ruled strongly against jallikattu.

Be that as it may, passions are being raised by most politicians and many celebrities across Tamil Nadu instigating the people to act against the SC judgment, and go ahead and conduct jallikattu in the next few days. A showdown appears to be in the offing. This doesn’t bode well for democracy. We need to wait and see how it plays out.

Supporters of jallikattu who are keen to respect the law of the land (like this author) believe that, even if the decision of the SC may be wrong (which many of us believe is the case), defying a SC judgment would set a very bad precedent for our democracy. In any case, the Government is duty bound to enforce the SC judgment with an iron hand and not permit anyone to defy it.

There’s a lesson in this episode for everyone.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]R[/dropcap]esponsible people (like you and me) should educate the society that over time, we should refine our traditions, and make jallikattu more compassionate to animals; after all, the bulls are not as enlightened as we are to understand that it’s all only a game; they will be scared of all that is happening around them. We’re not arguing that the jallikattu activists are not compassionate, as they are the ones who groom these animals as their own family members, but we are only suggesting that they should try to keep improving on the bull game, making it non-oppressive to the bull completely. We should try to find a solution within the laws of the land (as interpreted by the SC).

Those who defy the SC should be willing to suffer the consequences…

Responsible politicians should desist from fanning the sentiments of the people against the SC.

Those who defy the SC should be willing to suffer the consequences, without questioning the authority of the SC as Gandhi would have wanted us do. This is not such a serious issue to take the SC head on; its’ just a sport, an entertainment. Even if we didn’t play it for 3 or 4 years while we’re trying to find an amicable solution, heavens won’t fall; we should have a sense of proportions.

And the SC court should try to solve such socially sensitive issues more amicably (where possible) rather than rule with a heavy hand. They should realise that their word is not the last word because they are right; they are to be considered right because their word, under the Constitution, is the last word, as they say.

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Ganesan Subramanian

An Engineer-entrepreneur and Africa Business Consultant, Ganesan has many suggestions for the Government and sees the need for the Govt to tap the ideas of its people to perform to its potential.

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