Jallikattu, a famous name in the news these days, has become the center of controversies in India with roaring protests in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu to animal activism at its peak. For those who are not aware, Jallikattu is a traditional sport of Tamil Nadu in which a man from a family, tries to climb on the back of a bull, pull its tail and tame it through other means. The bull is placed in a state of anxiety and its prey-instincts are challenged through violent inflictions. In 2014, India’s top court, the Supreme Court, banned the sport owing to the animal exploitation and abuse that takes place during the sport. Until its ban in 2014, the bull-taming sport could be conducted under certain rules and regulations, however, investigations and media coverage revealed that the rules and regulations were not being adhered to, which called for a ban on it.
Certain video coverage revealed that to instigate the bulls, chilli powder and green chilli were being rubbed in their eyes, they were forcefully made to consume alcohol and stabbed with spears and knives to disorientate them causing intense pain and suffering. The ban imposed on the use of bulls for performance has been in respect to the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 which clearly states that no animal should undergo unnecessary suffering. In the past, the bull-taming sport, Jallikattu, has constantly violated the conventions of the Prevention to Cruelty to Animal Act 1960 which is utterly unconstitutional.
Bringing in more perspectives to the ban, it can be said that Jallikattu is not just unconstitutional, it also violates the rules that govern logic and reason. Animals have their own lives; they are not objects, not produce nor commodities; they are beings who feel, socialize, express and think. The use of animals in traditions and cultures clearly violates the right to live and the right to freedom. Jallikattu is a human festival and involving bulls in a human festival is just like the cruelties involved during the dark times of slavery, where the freedom of an individual was virtually brought to an end.
While Jallikattu has been an important part of Tamil Nadu’s traditions and cultures, there have been other practices too which were once an integral part of various Indian cultures, however, have been discontinued due to being unethical and illogical. For example: Sati, a practice which involved the sacrifice of a wife after the death of her husband, was banned more than a century ago as it promoted sexism and made no sense in the progressing world. Similarly, slavery was brought to an end because it encouraged the curtailment of freedom and violation of the right to live.
Jallikattu, is not the only pillar of Tamilian culture, and banning it won’t bring an end to the culture. A culture survives on the values, which the people belonging to it promote but we exist on grounds of humanity and compassion. If we forget our core values, we can never call ourselves human again. Using animals for our benefit, without their consent, neither brings pleasure to them nor do such practices support the core values of our existence. We need to think beyond ourselves, beyond our community and beyond individualism. A special note to the political parties campaigning for removing the ban on Jallikattu- It is time that India is not just seen as a progressive nation on its surface but also in its internal workings. Politics should not be driven by securing votes but by the notion of creating a stronger nation through correct judgement of what is right and what is wrong.