Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: Jallikattu ban is a conspiracy to eliminate native cattle breeds

Readers respond to an article by a Tamilian who supports the ban on the bull-taming sport.

Bullish argument

Your guest article on jallikattu is pathetic, to say the least (“I am a Tamilian and I support the Supreme Court’s jallikattu ban”). As someone who shares at least five Scroll.in articles a day and recommends it to all my friends abroad, I find this opinion lopsided and crooked.

Let me take you through some facts. Of the few things that are quintessentially Tamil Nadu, jallikattu, the bull-taming sport, is one. But today, the sport has been banned and Tamils inevitably arm twisted into giving up their traditions by an undemocratic judiciary that lets off stars like Salman Khan.

The campaign against jallikattu is just an attempt by the urban educated elite to define the rights and wrongs for rural communities from subaltern classes and disconnect them from their cultural roots.

Through the flippant use of words like “brutal”, “barbaric”, “primitive” and “gory” to describe the sport in their discourse, the elite belittle jallikattu. A bid is even made to portray the sport as one having no links to Tamil culture and history, though there is evidence to prove its antiquity - the sport finds mention in many literary works of the Sangam period (500 BC to 200 AD).

The elite do control a lot of systems within India, chief among which is the judiciary. This is because they have the best lawyers, unlike the rural folk. What the rural folk do have, however, is the power of the people. That is why there are 7,000 people in the Marina beach currently who stayed there the whole night to protest the ban on jallikattu. You will never understand traditions unless you see them.

Where does the question of cruelty come in jallikattu, a sport in which it is the man who loses his life or ends up in hospital, unlike traditional bull-fighting in other countries, where the animal is killed? If two men beating each other up in a ring can be a matter of pride, why do we look down upon men wrestling a bull they have reared since it was a calf?

If we can approve of polo and horse racing in which horses are whipped flogged and tortured, why ban an event that people consider their tradition. This isn’t about manliness or the bull, this is about a tradition we have carried on for centuries and we expect at the least some respect for it.

Many developed nations have stridently resisted demands to ban bullfighting. The Spanish king has declared that his country will be out of the European Union the day the EU bans bullfighting, which is part of his country’s history and culture.

It is because of all this that the people from the most educated of backgrounds, holding top corporate positions are sitting on a mass protest for over 48 hours. We love our traditions and no one shall take it away from us our rights. We shall fight and we hope you shall live up to your journalistic standards and carry our views also.

You don’t understand Jallikattu and what it means to the people of Tamil Nadu and we don’t expect you to either. But please don’t be condescending and judgemental towards it. – Roshan Jayakumar


In this article, the author says: “What manliness is it to intoxicate a bull with alcohol and then win over him? What is the bravado in handicapping a bull with lime juice in his eyes and chilli powder rubbed on his genitals?”

I’m sure she has heard of concepts of match fixing, beamers and bouncers in cricket. Beamers and bouncers are ways of bowling that have killed and injured many players, a recent casualty being Phil Hughes. But have they banned cricket over this?

In the same way, the reasons you have stated to plead for the ban on jallikattu are listed as malpractices under the tradition and there are people to keep a check on this. You say the sport is barbaric in the way it is played. I’d like to imagine if football without injuries and red cards.

Jallikattu has a rule that if either player or bull starts to bleed, the event halts right there. Also it is a foul to hold the bull by anything other than its hump. When there are rules to follow, how can the event be called barbaric? And how do you explain banning the entire event over the malpractices of 5%-10% of participants?

It’s clear that you haven’t seen an actual Jallikattu event. If you had, you would have seen how the event is regulated and practiced ethically, unlike the videos you seem to have referred to. – Tipston AR


The point of contention is whether an animal can be used for a contact sport, where the scope of physical and mental trauma is considerably high for both parties.

In this case, the clause does not apply for humans, as they participate on their own free will, but for animals, there is no way their consent can be determined. Animals with a positive temperament towards humans have only been domesticated throughout history and it is inferred that such animals are not intimidated at the sight of humans and can coexist with them.

The government should explore the possibility of reorienting the rules in a way that reduces the distress caused to animals rather than doing away with the sport altogether. A ban would lead to the sport the going, underground and could become crueler to animals. – Karthik


This article doesn’t make logical sense and I believe the writer did not do enough research on the subject. Native breeds of bull will go extinct and this sport is a way of saving them. There is a multi-billion dollar milk industry trying to sell A1 category milk, which is one of the main reasons for diabetes. These companies are controlled by MNCs.

Banning this sport destroys native bulls thus eliminating the nutrient-rich A2 milk. So don’t just say “ban jallikatu”, think carefully and do some research. – Selva Mani


Warm greetings to all those who support the Jallikattu ban. First, I would like to know, what have you people achieved by banning the sport? You guys made few NGOs rich. – Shan


What sort of Tamilain can supporting the jallikattu ban? If you are not aware of Jallikattu, speak to some professionals to understand it in and out. The Thirukkural that the author talks about Eru Thazhuvathal as well (hugging the bull, now known as jallikattu).

Jallikattu is not just a sport and people rear their cattle like their own children. If the tradition is as cruel as you think, can anyone who supports the Jallikattu ban answer the following question: where have the several lakh native breeds vanish? Have these breeds have enrolled themselves in slaughter houses? Tamil culture has the legacy of bull taming since ancient times. – K Saranya


Foreign markets have demolished natural farming. They sold their hybrid seeds, which are less resistant. Then, they created a huge market for fertilisers and since seeds are of a foreign breed, we have to purchase fertilisers and pesticides from them.

In a similar way, they are banning the sports like jallikattu and rekhala, which are practices to strengthen bulls and bullocks. They will then create a demand for cattle-rearing and will introduce their breeds. To rear them, we will have to depend upon foreign products.

First, they will create the demand and then they provide supply. This is what happened with Indian agriculture and the same thing may happen in the near future with milk production too. But we will fight and we will have Jallikattu conducted. Proud to be a Tamilian. – Jai Kumar


The author needs to get her facts right about jallikattu before parroting every superficial and bird-brained animal rights activist. No bull is intoxicated with alcohol or has chilli powder rubbed on him.

I don’t think you understand the central government’s agenda of bringing foreign breeds of cows into the Indian market and destroying our native breeds once for all. I hope you understand Tamil. See this to understand the issue better.

It will do a lot of good for our state if these so-called animal rights activists could be banned for their half-baked knowledge.

As for Scroll.in, I’ve had immense respect for your standard of work. I did not expect you to publish such an article by a person who is cut off from the reality. I’m ashamed to have been a Scroll.in admirer once upon a time. – Arthi Vijay


Stop publishing one-sided views of the elite who show themselves as nice human beings as they are members of PETA or the Animal Welfare Board. I will never trust Scroll.in going forward. – Gopi Chandar


Reading such half-balked reports make me think Scroll.in is one-sided. It is quite absurd than an author, sitting in a comfortable flat in an urban area, is commenting on jallikattu with no insight into the tradition.

PETA’s real concern is not animal welfare but the eradication of native breeds from our land. Banning Jallikattu leads to eradication of stud bulls followed by cows. If PETA is so concerned about animal welfare, let them stop slaughter houses first and then turn to jallikattu.

I plead with Scroll.in to look at the situation in-depth before publishing articles on it. – Srirammadhan Jayamaran


Please allow comments on your posts. We’re supposed to be in a democratic country, where the majority view matters.

In this case, the opinion of the majority of the Tamilians matters. Please don’t call yourself a Tamilian and try to impose draconian laws to subjugate them. Instead, call yourself a Tamil traitor. – Daniel


What is barbaric? Don’t call yourself Tamilan. Don’t comment on Jallikattu if you don’t know anything about it.

You know how to write a blog, that means you’re educated. Can’t you understand simple logic of what will happen if we give alcohol to a bull? It will just lie down.

First find out what exactly jallikattu is, then witness a jallikatu event and only then write about it. – Manjula Karthikeyan


Kindly note that if you don’t know how to defend Jallikattu then ask other Tamils. Why aren’t you well informed? Oh I forget, you earn from western interests. You don’t understand why we need it. – Jason Joseph


We need jallikattu. Save farmers. – Manoj Kumar


Please read on the background and history of jallikattu and on why we are protesting against the ban.

We get so carried away by Westerners and their perspective. You are more worried about the harm to bulls – that is a misconception.

You don’t realise that without this sport, our native breeds will be extinct – this is what westerners want so we can breed their cows and they can profited. – Nandhini


I come from village and have seen people worshiping cows and bulls while also participating happily in jallikattu. Are you concerned about one-day celebration? Or are you concerned about the business PETA will lose because of jallikattu?

From 130 native cattle breeds, we now have only 30. Do you want to kill these too? Here are some facts. MNCs are trying to eliminate native breeds to introduce artificial insemination. PETA is lobbying for the MNCs.

In recent years, the incidence of diseases like diabetes has increased in India. One of the main reasons of this is the consumption of a1-category milk, which comes from Jersey and cross-breed cows. Native Indian breeds cows give a2 milk. Native breed cows milch one or two litres less than cross breeds, but are healthy. But if PETA and other animal welfare organisations lobby to ban Jallikattu and other bull-related sports and traditions, farmers will not have any incentive to rear native cattle.

This, in turn, will pave the way for MNCs to introduce foreign and cross-breeds. One cannot imagine the magnitude of this business. – Shankar Nagappan


It says the author works at the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations. I’d like to ask her a few questions.

There are many slaughter houses in India. Why hasn’t action been taken against them? If see one or two jallikattu videos were bulls are hurt, is it right to ban the tradition as a whole? We are importing Jersey cows for want of milk. Why do we need to do so? Why not encourage more native breeds? Why don’t you insist that the government breed native cattle rather than import cows? – Meena Ramprasad


For god’s sake, don’t act like angels. Don’t behave as though you don’t use animal products or those products that hurt animals. Somehow every human exists by the death of a animal. If you don’t want to hurt animals, live a primitive life without all comforts because even the wood you use may caused a the death of a million animals. – Pradeep Sai


I’m a Tamilian too, living in Mumbai, and I am very happy to see that a handful of Tamilians are with humanity. Why do people say that jalikattu and bull races protect native bulls? Are these the only way to protect native bulls and if not, what are the other solutions? – Pency


There are many practices that seem to be against animals. The export of beef, pork, mutton, also hurts animals.

Most jallikattu supporters are animal lovers. An outright ban on it hurts the sentiments of people who have been practicing the sport for ages. We are open to new rules and precautions, but a ban is not the answer to every displeasure.

Sometimes, it is essential to listen to what the people want, instead of gratifying only a few interests. And this comes from me, someone who loves animals, eats meat, and supports jallikattu and is entirely okay with that. – Preethi Kanya


Why are you so biased? You post articles that highlight the lack of awareness about jallikattu, views that would gain the support of still others who do not know about the sport.

You should first publish an article on what jallikattu is and what it means to the state, rather than publishing articles that spread hatred about the sport. – Udhaya Bhaskar Sathya Narayanan


First of all, I strongly condemn the author’s reference to sallikattu (It is not jallikattu) as a “barbaric custom”. What made her think it was barbaric? Where did she get this idea from?

The very idea of something being “barbaric” stems from an ethnocentric western mindset, proponents of which believe that any culture other than theirs is barbaric and it is their duty to make other cultures civilised. Scholars like Edward Said, Homi K Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak have rightly pointed out that for the westerners, we are just the “others” and most of the customs practiced the others are barbaric.

All I can see in your article is this article attempt to be a westerner in your thinking. It is very clear that your idea about Tamil culture is acquired from text books.

My sincere advice to you is, go and learn the culture and uniqueness of the place from where you belong – from the people and not from text books.

Please don’t bring your half-baked knowledge about Thiruvalluvar’s Thirrukural here. According to your argument, bull fights are cruel. Have you ever seen bulls ploughing the field? This has been done since time immemorial, and bulls are hurt during the process. Do you think Thiruvalluar did not know that? He did, and yet he spoke about the importance of ploughing – which was done solely with bulls in his time. – Vivek B

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