Jallikattu: Why people are protesting against SC orders

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According to wikipedia,

Jallikattuis a traditional sport in which a Bos indicus bull is released into a crowd of people. Multiple human participants attempt to grab and tightly “hug” the large hump of the bull and hang on to it while the bull attempts to escape. Participants hug the hump for as long as possible, attempting to bring the bull to a stop. In some cases, participants must ride long enough to remove flags affixed to the bull’s horns.


According to a Quora user named Paraneetharan Chandrasekaran,

There is a misconception that Jallikattu is bullfighting. But, it is not. It is bull running.

The event involves a bull which runs in the arena and a group of youngsters who hold on to the hump of the bull and run along with it. Only one bull at a time runs in the arena. It is a rule that only one person should hold on to its hump at a time. If he is able to hold on till the finish line, he is the winner. If the bull manages to push him off beforehead, bull is announced as winner. The whole run hardly takes 20 sec to 3 mins based on the temperament of the bull.

The ban is imposed on the basis of some violations of the jallikattu regulation happened occasionally, for ex feeding alcohol to the bull, goading it using a sharp objects, twisting its tail etc to over-agitate the bull.

When I heard about Jallikattu, I was curious why native people (even young generation) are protesting against PETA and SC orders. I read and watched some videos, asked my Tamilian friends, but didn’t get satisfactory answers. Today I came across an answer on “Quora” which I would like to share giving more details about Jallikattu and why it is important.

Guys, I have had doubts related to . I was curious and enquired many people who were supporting Jallikattu. The answers that I got like it helps with financing the bull were not convincing. The only convincing answer in favor of Jallikattu was that it must be held for cultural reasons which most of the people parroted. But none of them were able to point me out to the actual reasons why this was beneficial. The videos that I was pointed out to described in great detail the advantages of A2 milk and how the preservation of native breeds which have the gene for producing A2 milk is important but none of them addressed the important question – How does Jallikattu help in their preservation and what is in it for native breeders. After seeing Senapathy’s replies in an interview and after talking to Raja Manickam, I have finally managed to convince myself that Jallikattu is not just important from a cultural point of view but is more important from a farmer’s point of view as it helps in preservation of native breeds. Here is my summary of how it helps. It is a long read but it will help the majority of those youngsters who are seeking such answers themselves and would enable them to be in a better position to defend the practice.

A little bit of background is necessary before understanding this.

There are two types of beta-casein protein which are the dominant casein proteins in cow’s milk: A1 and A2 protein. Initially all cows produced milk rich in A2 protein. But 5000 years back when migration started happening to Europe, a genetic mutation caused cattle taken to Europe to produce milk where both A1 and A2 protein were present in approximately equal amounts or where A1 protein dominated. Most of the breeds in Europe, US and Australia produce milk rich in A1 protein while native breeds in Asia and Africa produce milk rich in A2 protein. But after effects of colonization and artificial insemination caused these differences to disappear and interbreeding of cattle resulted in cows’ milk in Asia and Africa to also have both proteins. But pure breeds (ones with A2 milk) still do exist in Asia and Africa.

Scientific research has established the differences in the way the human digestive system (and digestive enzymes) processes these two proteins. The digestive enzymes react to these proteins very differently. Based on these differences, many research articles have arrived at the conclusion (not established beyond reasonable doubt) that A1 milk protein could be the cause for various chronic diseases like type-1 diabetes and so on. There exists research to the contrary as well i.e. there is no correlation between A1 protein and chronic diseases. But the majoritarian view at the moment is that A2 milk is more beneficial than A1 milk. Here is a link to one such research paper (Milk proteins and human health: A1/A2 milk hypothesis).

There is one more important point to be made here. When we interbreed a bull and a cow (and if one or both of them were an offspring of a cow that produced milk rich in A1 protein) then the new offspring will also have this trait. It has been scientifically proven that the gene which causes cows to produce milk rich in A1 protein is a dominant gene and hence all offsprings will also have this trait.

In India there are 37 native breeds (there were 150 a century ago) and of these 36 have the A2 protein gene in them. The only breed Malvi (common in Maharashtra) has the gene for A1 protein. But this bull is mostly used for ploughing and cows bred with this bull are average milk producers and hence not a cause for major concern. That essentially means that all the 6 native breeds found in Tamilnadu have the A2 protein gene in them which makes it all the more important for us to preserve them.

Now before we address why Jallikattu helps in preserving native breed, let us understand what will happen if all these native breeds become extinct. We will then have to interbreed and rely heavily on artificial insemination. I have already mentioned the problems with inter breeding above. Artificial insemination is an expensive process and we rely on semen imported from countries like US, Australia, Denmark and New Zealand from Jersey bulls and other such breed known to have A1 protein as the dominant gene. This essentially means that our generation and future generation will then have to live with milk rich in A1 protein and also the associated problems like type1 – diabetes, autism and so on. The other disadvantage with artificial insemination is that the offspring will not be healthy as its genetic pool lacks the genes that are required for it to adapt to the climate and local changes which a native breed has in a higher proportion.

Now this brings into picture an MNC, A2 Milk Company with presence in US, Australia and New Zealand. This company holds patents for trivial things like genetically testing whether a cow has an A1 gene or A2 gene. But what is disturbing is the patent that they hold for artificial insemination of A2 gene bull’s semen. They hold the patent for this method which causes A2 gene to become the dominant gene as opposed to A1 which happens naturally. It suppresses the dominant tendency of A1 gene. Now if all native breeds in India were destroyed then we may have to either make do with A1 milk or we may have to pay a hefty royalty to A2 Milk company for using its patented technique to produce cows rich in A2 gene. Now this is what is bothering most of these cattle breeders in TamilNadu. The question that is being raised is that when our breeds are perfectly capable of producing A2 milk, why must be force ourselves to be a slave to some other MNC company holding a patent for this. They also accuse this MNC of funding PETA which is unsubstantiated. But this organisation has been donating generously to PETA in US, Australia and New Zealand which is suspicious but doesn’t establish that they are behind the protest in India.

Now let us address why Jallikattu helps in preserving our native breed (I got this information from Senapathy and Raja Manickam).

In TamilNadu, breeders rear bulls with the intention of showcasing them in Jallikattu. Most of the farmers can’t afford to raise these bulls and are hence reliant on these breeders or on the common temple bull which is reared by the entire village rather than a single breeder. The bulls that fare well in the Jallikattu arena are in constant demand for servicing the cows. So we can think of Jallikattu as a marketplace for these bulls. Now this still doesn’t answer as to why Jallikattu alone can help in this and why can’t breeders breed these native bulls irrespective of whether Jallikattu happens or not.

To understand that we will have to understand the chronology of events that lead to Jallikattu and events that happen thereafter. Jallikattu is held during Pongal time (i.e. mid January), the strong bulls are identified and mated with cows. After this the farming season starts. After harvesting is done, this cycle starts again where the breeders showcase their bulls in Jallikattu events. People with a keen eye for this then make note of the strongest bulls and then seek them out later in what is known as a sandhai (marketplace) in Tamil

Now how does Jallikattu help in the process? The bulls used for mating need to be virile. During the mating season (which is typically after Pongal), these bulls need to be at the top of their game i.e. they must be secreting all the necessary male hormones, experience adrenaline rush and also a fast beating heart. This is where Jallikattu comes in picture. The time when the bull is released from the Vaadi Vaasal (the small narrow gate from which the bulls are released) and till the time it manages to reach the other end (if it is not subdued) causes it to experience a great adrenaline rush which then boosts it’s testosterone levels and also keeps its heart beating at a rate faster than normal levels. This increases their virility and this is one of the most fundamental of all necessities for selective breeding. Can this be done without an activity like Jallikattu? Possibly but then the number of matings a bull can accomplish decreases significantly. Jallikattu helps in increasing this which is of utmost importance to a farmer’s wellbeing. Also because artificial insemination is not adapted for native breeds, the banning of an event like Jallikattu will lead to these native breeds getting destroyed which would then force our hands to rely on artificial insemination the very process which the farmers shunned to begin with.

In places where events like Jallikattu are not held, the male calves (which are essentially useless unless there is demand for tasks like ploughing) are slaughtered. but in places where Jallikattu is held, these calves are held on to for the purpose of showcasing them and establishing their superiority.

Now that convinces me of the necessity for an event like Jalikattu. Now I can truly empathise with these farmers and their struggle to retain this cultural event.

(source: http://qr.ae/TPOmcq)

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