Activists lose their war on Jallikattu

The Jallikattu controversy underlines not only the hold of activists over legislation and governance but also their disdain for tradition, joy, and the concerns of common folks. Leaders at the Centre and in Tamil Nadu have finally acted, but only after mass upsurge in the southern state goaded them to do so.

The Centre on Friday cleared a draft ordinance forwarded by Chief Minister O. Pannerselvam for continuation of Jallikattu (bull-taming sport). The ordinance now awaits consent of President Pranab Mukherjee. Meanwhile Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi urged the Supreme Court to delay its judgment on the subject “for at least a week”—a request the court has acceded to.

Evidently, the Central government under Bharatiya Janata Party doesn’t want to offend Tamil sensibilities. So, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alluded to a piece of legislation to allow Jallikattu which is the “need of the society.” Union Environment Minister Anil Dave said on Friday, “The Tamil Nadu government has submitted a proposal to the home minister and it is under consideration. The sentiments and cultural values of states should be protected.”

Last month, the apex court had reserved its judgment on several petitions by animal rights activists challenging the Central government’s January 2016 notification permitting bulls in Jallikattu. In its January 13 order, the court stayed the Centre’s notification, which meant that its original 2014 order banning Jallikattu became enforceable.

It was this development that led to the huge protests at Chennai’s Marina Beach, many of them being urban youngsters who had never participated in Jallikattu. They might have woken up to the tomfoolery of activists recently but the latter have been persistent in their war on Jallikattu since the early 1990s. A division bench of the Madras High Court ruled in the favor of the traditional sport in 2007. The judgment was challenged in the Supreme Court by animal rights organizations, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) under the Union Ministry of Environment, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). It is interesting to note that the protesters against Jallikattu ban are railing against PETA but not against the AWBI.

What clinched the case in the anti-Jallikattu lobby’s favor was a notification in 2011 by the Ministry of Environment, which added ‘bulls’ among the list of animals whose training and exhibition was prohibited. The earlier 1991 list had bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, and dogs.

This inclusion was the result of the spiteful influence of the Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council (NAC) over the United Progressive Alliance government. It is a well-known fact that the NAC comprised notorious Luddites, VIP socialists, professional revolutionaries, and publicity-seeking activists. Their diktat was faithfully carried out by the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh. He also welcomed the Supreme Court ban on the use of bulls in Jallikattu. “I welcome the Supreme Court judgment. It will put an end to a barbaric practice,” he told PTI.

In a nutshell, the events surrounding Jallikattu was the consequence of the shenanigans of activists who want to impose their perverse ideologies on not just Tamil Nadu but the entire country.