T E Narasimhan | Chennai January 14, 2016 Last Updated at 00:21 IST, Business Standard
Organisers have said the Supreme Court’s refusal to revoke the ban on Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu’s bull taming sport, will affect thousands of farmers dependent on this breed of cattle for their livelihood. A winning bull can fetch a farmer as much as Rs 2 lakh.
The apex court has dismissed petitions supporting the sport, among the oldest in the world, for this week’s Pongal season. Tamil Nadu celebrated last week on news that the bull taming sport had been permitted. As preparations were on for Pongal, animal rights activists approached the Supreme Court seeking the ban be upheld. The court subsequently refused to stay its decision on a plea by the Tamil Nadu government.
Jallikattu is organised in 24 places between January 14 and January 17 in Tamil Nadu. An event can raise up to Rs 15 lakh in a village, says Balakumar Somu, a member of a Jallikattu organising committee. A technology professional, Somu quit a job in Singapore, relocated to Coimbatore and started a website supporting Jallikattu.
According to him, a farmer invests Rs 5,000-10,000 to buy a calf and his family nurtures it for 18 months into a healthy bull. Jallikattu is a platform to find buyers. Bulls that win can fetch their owners Rs 1.5-2 lakh. The buyers are rich people who employ 5-6 hands to maintain the bulls. These hands, mostly women, are paid Rs 800-900 a week.The other set of people affected are artisans. In many villages a major source of income comes from creating decorative items, including special ropes, for the bulls and for the race. Jallikattu may be a three-day festival, but it is a source of income for farmers throughout the year, Somu points out.
Organisers spend anywhere between Rs 50,000 and Rs 20 lakh to organise a Jallikattu. The money is spent on preparing the ground, deposit money and gifts that include motorcycles, gold coins, bicycles, steel almirahs, sheep and goats. Local brands advertise at these events and the merchandise includes coffee mugs, posters, coasters and bedsheets.
A state government official says it is a myth that Jallikattu brings in tourism revenue. All shops and hotels are shut during the festival and most people at a Jallikattu event are from surrounding villages.
The ban will also affect special cattle breeds used in Jallikattu, including the Kangeyam bulls. “The banning of Jallikattu will ultimately result in the vanishing of native species and the country becoming import dependent for bovine animals,” says Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, managing trustee, Senaapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation.
The foundation works on preservation of native cattle breeds. Sivasenapathy says the population of Kangayam cattle has come down from 1.1 million in 1990 to around 100,000 now.
This news article has been reproduced from Business Standard, Chennai (Online edition) . The original article can be accessed at : http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/rural-livelihoods-ride-on-jallikattu-116011400060_1.html