Jallikattu Ban – Unfair Or Justified?

Jallikattu is a traditional bull-taming sport organised in Tamil Nadu during Pongal, a practice that dates back to as far as 2000 years. It is a sport that involves a natively reared bull that is set free inside an arena filled with young participants. The challenge lies in taming the bull with bare hands. Ideally, participants try to grab the bull by its horns or tail and wrestle it into submission.

So, what is the controversy that surrounds this sport? The Supreme Court banned the sport in 2014, upholding concerns raised by activists who said the Jallikattu amounted to cruelty to animal besides posing a threat to humans. Between 2010 and 2014, an estimated 17 people were killed and 1000-odd were injured during Jallikattu events. On January 12, 2017, the Supreme Court rejected a plea by a group of lawyers seeking an urgent ruling on a clutch of petitions on Jallikattu so that the sport can be organised during this year’s Pongal celebrations. This infuriated large sections of Tamil Nadu’s population perceive the ban as an affront to the state’s tradition and culture.

Thus, is the ban on Jallikattu justified or unfair? Banning Jallikattu will have a huge impact on the farmers down south of the country. Jallikattu helps bulls establish their pedigree. The calves from such bulls, which have displayed their agility on the sports field, are in great demand. Male calves are kept only in regions with a tradition of sports like Jallikattu. In other regions, male calves are sold and taken to slaughter in only a few days. With the reduced availability of males, farmers have to go for artificial insemination. Unless bulls are bred and reared in the region, their offspring will be less likely to adapt to changes in the climate and local environment. Banning Jallikattu will hasten the process of losing these breeds as well as lay the ground for commercial dairies and slaughter houses to overwhelm small farmers. Thus, the solution lies in striking a balance between lifting the ban and simultaneously launching an aggressive campaign to eradicate the distortions which have crept in the cultural tradition. This is because there have been several instances where the sport is conducted in a way that harms the bull physically. Hence, there have to be proper guidelines set while conducting this sport by the government, so that the sport is conducted in an ethical way.

Indians take pride in their diverse and multi-lingual culture. What makes India unique is its impressive traditions and different religious beliefs living in unity.  Thus, it is the responsibility of all citizens to preserve their own ethnicity and in this case, Tamilian culture.




About the Author:

Rajaguru K


IIM Raipur