IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 16th Jan
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
EDITORIAL HUNT #317:“Jallikattu : Power Pride and Polity | UPSC ”
Jallikattu : Power Pride and Polity | UPSC
Jallikattu: pride & politics
A look at what it means for Tamil culture, and the controversies leading to an ongoing legal battle.
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : Fundamental Right
What is Jallikattu ? Culture vs Animal rights debate has been in the news since past decade. Examine-(GS 2)
- Jallikattu- Meaning, essence and the sport
- A case of culture and tradition
- Festival in Tamil Culture
- Legal Battles
- Arguments against cruelty
- Way Forward
WHAT IS JALLIKATTU?
- A BULL TAMING SPORT : The bull-taming sport is popular in Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Theni, Pudukkottai and Dindigul districts — known as the Jallikattu belt.
- CELEBRATIONS : Jallikattu is celebrated in the second week of January, during the Tamil harvest festival, Pongal.
- VIOLENT SPORT : It is a violent sport in which contestants try to tame a bull for a prize; if they fail, the bull owner wins the prize.
- MONETARY BENEFITS : In an age when the farm sector is largely mechanised, there are no major monetary benefits for bull owners in breeding Jallikattu bulls other than the prizes they get during the Jallikattu events.
- PRIZE INCLUDES : Traditionally, these used to be a dhoti, a towel, betel leaves, bananas and a cash prize of Rs 101.
- RECENT YEARS : Over the last two decades, the prizes have included grinders, a fridge and small furniture.
SOURCES : SHUTTERSTOCK | Jallikattu : Power Pride and Polity
THE CASE FOR CULTURE AND TRADITION
- CULTURAL REPRESENTATION : It isn’t that there exists no tangible evidence to show that this battle between man and beast is indeed a cultural representation.
- POLITICAL ECONOMY OF JALLIKATTU : It is about showcasing the quality of cattle, the breeding skills of cattle rearers, the centrality of cattle in an agrarian economy, and the power and pride they bring to farmers and land-owning castes in rural Tamil Nadu.
- THE ESSENCE OF FESTIVAL : Jallikattu is almost a cathartic experience — overcoming the violence of a harsh land where resources are scarce and life needs to be tackled with skill and cunning.
- HONOUR AND REPUTATION : The pride of the bull-tamer is the primordial character of the warrior, willing to die but unwilling to accept defeat.
WHY IS JALLIKATTU IMPORTANT IN TAMIL CULTURE?
- SAVING THE BREED : Jallikattu is considered a traditional way for the peasant community to preserve their pure-breed native bulls.
- CATTLE WORSHIP : The festival is a celebration of nature, and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, of which cattle-worship is part.
- CATTLE BREEDING : At a time when cattle breeding is often an artificial process, conservationists and peasants argue that Jallikattu is a way to protect these male animals which are otherwise used only for meat if not for ploughing.
- POPULAR BREED : Kangayam, Pulikulam, Umbalachery, Barugur and Malai Maadu are among the popular native cattle breeds used for Jallikattu.
- SOCIAL STATUS : The owners of these premium breeds command respect locally.
WHY HAS JALLIKATTU BEEN THE SUBJECT OF LEGAL BATTLES?
- ANIMAL RIGHTS ISSUE : In India, legal battles surrounding animal rights issues emerged in the early 1990s. It is a violent sport, and there is only one winner, man or bull.
- INITIAL BAN : A notification from the Environment Ministry in 1991 banned the training and exhibition of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and dogs, which was challenged by the Indian Circus Organisation in the Delhi High Court.
- FIRST LEGAL SCRUTINY : Jallikattu first came under legal scrutiny in 2007 when the Animal Welfare Board of India and the animal rights group PETA moved petitions in the Supreme Court against Jallikattu as well as bullock cart races.
Jallikattu : Power Pride and Polity
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
- In 2009, the Tamil Nadu government worked its way out of the ban by passing a law, which was signed by the Governor.
- In 2011, the Centre added bulls to the list of animals whose training and exhibition is prohibited.
- In May 2014, the Supreme Court banned the bull-taming sport, ruling on a petition that cited the 2011 notification.
THE ARGUMENT AGAINST CRUELTY
- CRUELTY TO ANIMALS : The animal rights groups and the courts concerned over issues of cruelty to animals and the bloody and dangerous nature of the sport that causes death and injuries to both the bulls and human participants.
- THE RECENT VERDICT : In 2014, the Supreme Court had ruled that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, “over-shadows or overrides the so-called tradition and culture”.
- HARASSMENT : Bulls are beaten, poked, prodded, harassed and jumped on by numerous people.They have their tails bitten and twisted and their eyes and noses filled with irritating chemicals.
SO, IS IT LEGAL OR BANNED NOW?
- CASE IS PENDING : That is the subject of a case pending in the Supreme Court.The state government has legalised these events, which has been challenged in the court.
- JALLIKATTU UPRISING : In January 2017, massive protests erupted across Tamil Nadu against the ban, with Chennai city witnessing a 15-day-long Jallikattu uprising.
- QUICK ORDINANCES : The same year, the Tamil Nadu government released an ordinance amending the central Act and allowing Jallikattu in the state; this was later ratified by the President.
- CULTURAL HERITAGE : The main question to be resolved is whether the Jallikattu tradition can be protected as a cultural right of the people of Tamil Nadu which is a fundamental right.
- SIMILAR SPORT : Like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka too passed a law to save a similar sport, called Kambala.
- PRESENT STATUS : Except in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, these sports remain banned in all other states including Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra due to the 2014 ban order from the Supreme Court.
COMPLEX STRUGGLE OF PAST, PRESENT
- CORE VALUES : The contest, which evidently celebrates masculinity, is almost an act of cultural resistance to an urban modernity that tends to marginalise rural and agrarian values.
- PRIDE AND POLITY : Pride in Tamil culture is central to Dravidian nationalism, which continues to shape the political discourse in Tamil Nadu.The political consensus in favour of Jallikattu is inescapable.
In the absence of such engagement, the supporters of animal rights are likely to be seen as a deracinated group that is insensitive to local culture and tradition.