Agri Politics Livestock & Poultry Op-ed

Jallikattu – It’s more than just a matter of Tamil Pride

Narrowing down the debate on Jallikattu to just a matter of Tamil pride Vs Animal right activists or Culture first Vs People first or Tamil tradition Vs Animal cruelty is a thing of ignorance. The historical “Jallikattu protest of Youths” in January 2017 revealed that Jallikattu is not just a matter of Tamil Pride and it was rather an opportunity to rise the voice against the underhanded Globalisation, shady Neocolonisation, selfish Corporates and insensitive political setup that form a whole web of complication behind rural economic distress and Agrarian poverty.  And incidentally  jallikattu issue came as a spark, to get ourselves ignited to burn the obstacle before us.

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Source: PTI
 Jallikattu – Matter of Agricultural importance

All over the world, agricultural community and animals are seen as partners. Bulls are integral part of farming, especially for small and marginal farmers as they serve multiple purposes like ploughing, transportation, source for farmyard manure, panchagavya, jeevamrutham, and as a source of A2 milk.  With most of the farmers switching to Organic farming and sustainable agriculture, Native cattles are of much more importance. When local farmers are feeling the brunt of climate change and Monsoon failures the native cattle are both an input as well as insurance to the livestock keepers.
Agricultural community and livestock keepers are creators of breeds and custodians of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture says Conservation of Biological diversity to which India is a signatory. Environment Ministry had banned the training and exhibition of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and dogs and later it included Bulls in the list of performing animals.  
I think, the animals other than bulls have no agricultural importance. By keeping Bull as an odd one in the list and altogether banning Jallikattu, rekla races, Maharashtra Bailgada, Kerala Sethali, Manjuvirattu, etc., the rights of poor farmers are deprived and agricultural activity depending on native breeds will be affected emotionally and economically.
Source: scooptimes
Jallikattu – Matter of Biodiversity Conservation
We had over 120 breeds of cattle in this country. Today, only 37 are left. Tamil Nadu had six cattle breeds earlier and now it has almost lost the Alambadi breed. The remaining breeds are Kangayam of Dharapuram region, Pulikulam around Madurai, sivaganga region, Umbalacheri famous for its short legs making it easy to work in delta regions of Tamil Nadu, Bargur in hills of Erode district and Malai Maadu in theni district. There are a few more minor breeds without proper documentation. Most of these are on the verge of extinction.  One cannot ignore the participation of local community in biodiversity conservation.  

With no alternative in place for improving the status of native breeds, Banning Jallikattu as a whole will lead to extinction of native breeds and indirectly encourages imported cattle based dairies and slaughter house. It Directly, force the farmers to go for Imported breeds for which Artificial Insemination and other government sponsored breeding programme are easily available.

Pulikulam breed ; source:
Alambadi breed; source:
Jallikattu – matter of Science
Jallikattu is is nothing more than a selection of healthy bulls for servicing the cows.  Stud bulls are reared by people for jallikattu. The ones that win the jallikattu are much in demand for servicing the cows. Small farmers cannot afford to keep stud bulls, so each village has a common temple bull which services the cows of the village. Jallikattu is the event where bulls are bought and exhibited. The ones which are most agile (and virile) are preferred by farmers. The calves from such bulls are in demand. This is a traditional way of preserving the gene pool.
Jallikattu – matter of Politics
It is not confined with AIADMK, DMK, BJP or congress. In this Globalised era, every political ploy is hooked together with local and international politics.  Literally politics today is run by corporates and business group.  Now, Western countries shift towards protectionist policies like Brexit, gain of Trump, etc. And developing countries are slowly accepting the principles of Globalisation and Capitalism.  Defending of Globalisation by Chinese President in World Economic Forum, 2017 is an example.  Fast food restaurant chain like KFC, pizza hut, etc., Multinational beverage industries like Coco cola, Pepsi, etc., beyond depleting their resources, decide what people in developing countries drink and eat.
If we give up our native breeds and import foreign breeds, multinational commercial companies will command over the dairy industry in India. Dairy lobbies are much bothered of native cattles and their A2 milk. Similarly, there is a huge demand for Bos Indicus variety beef in the Gulf, Malaysia and Western countries. It is considered an exotic and healthy meat, just like country chicken.  Here the corporate string is clear, they intend to establish a dairy market in India and also to make India as an exporter of beef to fulfill their needs.
Marina; source: livemint
Narrowing down of “leaderless” protest in Marina beach, alanganallur and all over Tamil Nadu to just a matter of Tamil pride will interpret wrong solution.  
To most of the world, this is just a dirt. To a farmer it’s potential.
To most of world, this is just a sport. To a farmer it’s lifeblood.

Originally published on Jan 2017, Updated on 14 Jan 2018.