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It Takes A Really Small Man To Derive Pleasure From Jallikattu

14/01/2016 8:31 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Bull tamers try to control a bull during the bull-taming sport called Jallikattu, in Palamedu, about 575 kilomters (359 miles) south of Chennai, India, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013. Jallikattu is an ancient heroic sporting event of the Tamils played during the harvest festival of Pongal. (AP Photo/Arun Sankar K.)

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A lot of inane stuff has been said lately by those who support jallikattu, but Senior BJP leader L Ganesan's recent comment that jallikatu "symbolises manliness" takes the cake. Most women would agree that only a small, pitiful man derives pleasure from hurting those more vulnerable than him, whether the victims are animals, children, or women. Bullies are cowards who pick on those who can't defend themselves and escape. Take it from the girls, boys: real men are kind to animals, and heroes always fight abuse - not just in cartoons, comics and movies but also in real life.

Men who take part in jallikattu would like us to believe that the bulls are the violent ones, when in fact, as any animal behaviourist will confirm, jallikattu exploits bulls' natural nervousness as prey animals by deliberately placing them in a terrifying situation in which they are forced to run away from those they perceive as predators. As People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has documented, the bulls become so frightened by the menacing mob of men that they slip, fall, run into barriers and traffic, and even jump off cliffs, so desperate are they to escape. This often leads to broken bones and even death.

It's disgusting and shameful, not macho in the slightest.

The men who take part in jallikattu are, in fact, so "manly" that they like to make the "sport of fools" even easier for themselves: They purposely disorient the bulls by force-feeding them alcohol; twist and bite their tails; stab and jab them with sickles, spears, knives and sticks; cause them intense pain by yanking their nose ropes; and punch, jump on and drag them to the ground. What is fair, let alone remotely masculine, about this deliberate weakening of animals? It's disgusting and shameful, not macho in the slightest.

The fact that many humans also become injured or die from fleeing bulls while participating in or watching jallikattu is also held up as proof of bravery by the men who take part, but they're not fooling anyone. Increasingly, people recognise jallikattu as a sad consequence of blatant ignorance, arrogance and stupidity. As the media have reported, from 2010 to 2014 there were some 1,100 human injuries and 17 deaths caused by jallikattu-style events, including the death of a child.

In its 7 May 2014 judgement, the Honourable Supreme Court confirmed a ban on jallikattu, bull races and other uses of bulls for performances. The Court also ruled that cruelty is inherent in these events, as bulls are not anatomically suited to them. It observed that forcing bulls to participate subjects them to unnecessary pain and suffering, and so it ruled that such races are not permitted by law.

[T]he bulls become so frightened by the menacing mob of men that they slip, fall, run into barriers and traffic, and even jump off cliffs, so desperate are they to escape.

It is, therefore, shocking and insupportable that in spite of the damning statistics of human injuries and deaths and the blatant mistreatment of bulls inherent in jallikattu, the Environment Ministry issued a notification on 7 January 2016 in the Gazette of India lifting the 2014 Supreme Court ban on "events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat". Now, in response to a battery of urgent petitions filed with the court against this notification, led by the government advisory body the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and supported by PETA India, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) and Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), the Supreme Court stayed the notification on 12 January 2016 thereby ensuring jallikattu and bull races cannot be currently held. However, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has now written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to disseminate an ordinance to allow the conducting of jallikattu despite this stay. The new court case continues and PETA India vows to work until the Supreme Court confirms once again that jallikattu and bull races must be relegated to the history books.

PETA has documented that during races, bulls run because people are inflicting pain on them. They are hit with everything from bare hands to nail-studded sticks, and their tailbones are broken at each joint. This is as painful to bulls as it would be to us if someone were to break our fingers joint by joint. It should be prosecuted, not sanctioned.

Thankfully, most people do not agree with L Ganesan's stance. PETA India's online petition urging the government to keep the ban on jallikattu, bull races and bullfights was signed by nearly 60,000 people in India alone. A similar Change.org petition that was put up just a few days ago has been signed by over 8,500 people.

The manliest men I know are all against abusing bulls. John Abraham, Vidyut Jammwal, Kapil Sharma, Sonu Sood, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan are among those stars who signed a petition urging the government to keep the ban on jallikattu, bull races and bullfights.

So, to men, I say: be a real man. Combat animal abuse and speak up in defence of those in need as a way of demonstrating your manhood. Otherwise, you will be an object of ridicule and pity.

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