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Jallikattu pride and all that

Sandhya Rao | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 22, 2017

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The protests in Tamil Nadu have thrown up some positives

It’s been a while since we’ve had a mass protest of the magnitude Tamil Nadu, specifically, Chennai saw recently. The numbers swelled every day until finally you also saw small children squeaking, “We want jallikattu. We want jallikattu.” Yet, despite disruptions in traffic, you couldn’t use the word ‘agitation’ to describe it, it’s been more like a carnival.

The protestors were as well-behaved as a massive gathering could be, and their anthem, inspired by the hip-hop number ‘Tamizhanda’, suggested a sense of the bigger picture. It’s first two lines translate as ‘My region, my home, my country: India / My community, my language, my life, I say it out loud: I am a Tamizhan”. “ En nadu, en veedu, en desam India / En inam, en mozhi, en uyir ena urakka solven naan tamizhanda.” )

The young have shown they can be collectively peaceful, reasonable and effective. But the buck doesn’t stop here, there’s plenty more for them to address their energies to: tackling the looming water crisis, for one. They could create awareness about using water carefully even as they help the women carry potloads to their homes; they can push for schools in every village, supported by good infrastructure and good teachers who are paid well; they can fight for fair prices for farmers, and the elimination of greed; they can demand governance from political leaders and bureaucrats; they can usher in an equitable society.

The protests around jallikattu have shown they have the power and the attitude. In a strange way, they have demonstrated what responsible citizenship can be, and the naysayers must give them the benefit of being young and carefree even as they insist it’s time now for them to get back to their studies. However, it’s important they now focus on insisting that the bulls used for jallikattu are treated compassionately. That would be the real victory.

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Published on January 22, 2017
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