JALLIKATTU – IS IT ANIMAL RIGHT V HUMAN CUTURE? OR MUCH MORE?

Background of the protest

Jallikattu, or manju virattu is a traditional spectacle where a bull, commonly of the Kangayam breed[1], is released into a crowd of people and the participants attempt either to stop the bull from escaping or to remove flags on the bull’s horns. Legal battles over Jallikattu have pit animal activists against bull owners since the early 1990s. The case first reached the Supreme Court after animal rights organisations, Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), decided to challenge a 2007 division bench judgment of the Madras High Court in favour of Jallikattu. In 2011, the Ministry of Environment issued a notification, modifying its earlier 1991 notification, which had banned the training and exhibition of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and dogs, by adding “bulls” to the list. In 2014 on a petition by PETA and the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)[2], the 2011 notification was upheld. The Supreme Court historically extended the fundamental right to life to animals and declared that the bulls have the fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution to live in a healthy and clean atmosphere, not to be beaten, kicked, bitten, tortured, plied with alcohol by humans or made to stand in narrow enclosures amidst bellows and jeers from crowds[3].  The court ascertained that the sport, even though has cultural significance, was an act of “inherent cruelty”. The Court also trashed Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Regulation Act 2009 that had made Jallikattu.

However, in recent times there were massive protests all over the State of Tamil Nadu for reinstating the Jallikattu sport against the order of the Supreme Court. In response to the protest the Governor of Tamil Nadu promulgated an ordinance for the conduct of jallikattu. The Union

government cleared the state’s draft ordinance to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, enabling the conduct of jallikattu[4].

Jallikattu is more than just Animal rights vs. Human Culture

The issue surrounding the ban of Jallikattu is not merely confined to animal rights Vs. Human culture. The protestors have focused on other dimensions. One of the biggest truths of Democratic India today is that we are ruled by Corporate. There are a lot of allegations against the Animal Activist’s activity with regard to Jallikattu Ban.

First of all, setting the records straight, it is believed that in a year, a total of about 10,000 instances of a bull leaving the vaadi vaasal (gate) take place during jallikattu. Of the thousands of players who take part, hardly 50-100 get injured in a year, and numbers of deaths due to the event are actually miniscule.

There is a huge dairy lobby that opposes the sport and wants all native breeds to be eradicated so that commercial dairy farms with imported breeds, yielding more milk can be created. The contribution of milk from local cows coming from the villages reduces their profits. Events like jallikattu throw a spanner in their plans. Besides the fear of losing self-sufficiency in milk production, the promotion of organic farming will also get a setback. Once the imported foreign breeds replace the native breeds, multinational commercial companies will dominate the dairy industry in India. The livelihood of millions in rural India will get adversely affected.

The next lobby is that of the beef exporters who also tend to gain from ban on Jallikattu. If there is no demand from the jallikattu enthusiasts, the price of such prized bulls will fall to a rock bottom. There is a huge demand for Bos Indicus variety of beef in the Gulf, Malaysia and Western countries. It is considered an exotic and healthy meat, just like country chicken. Hence, the beef traders who are mostly, if not all, agents of export companies and slaughter houses based in Kerala will be happy to purchase high quality meat at low prices[5].

Conclusion

Jallikattu is a sport which involves the voluntary participation of members and is not to be misunderstood as a cruelty to animals. The persistent move by PETA along with AWBI and other organization to ban Jallikattu overlooking the actual cruelty to animals like the cow slaughter opens up room of reasonable doubt for corporate lobbying. Therefore through this article the author has given different dimensions of the protest thereby claiming that there is much more than rights of animals and humans.

[1] Ramesh, C., Mariayyah, P., Senthilkumar, A. and Rajendran, K. (2014), “A Study of Sports and Recreational Activities of Pura Village People and their Attitude Towards these Activities”, Journal of Recent Research and Applied Studies. p. 89–94.

[2] Animal Welfare Board of India vs. A. Nagaraja (2014) 7 SCC 547

[3] Ibid.

[4] Tamil Nadu Governor signs ordinance for jallikattu, 21 January 2017, viewed at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/tamil-nadu-governor-signs-ordinance-for-jallikattu/articleshow/56703340.cms

[5] Col DJS Chahal, Anti-Jallikattu Lobbyist – More than what Meets the Eye, 19 January 2017, viewed at http://www.olivegreens.co.in/blog/anti-jallikattu-lobbyist-more-than-what-meets-the-eye

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