In the India Today conclave held recently discussing the ban on Jallikattu, Leela Sampson, a Bharathanatyam dancer and an animal rights activist, was heard making an ostensibly smart point asking if the permission of the bulls was taken for the sport. Without that, there was no point in us people discussing the issue of Jallikattu ban, she said.
Now, I was left wondering if she takes permission from the silk worms before she wears traditional silk when she performs her many traditional dance shows? If she's not using silk sarees, should we also petition the Supreme Court to ban silk and especially the wearing of silk sarees and dhotis by Indians as per our tradition? I wonder if any court will ever issue such a ban even if someone petitions! And I was also wondering did she get permission from the animals that were used for action in films she approved of when she was chairman of film certification board? And I have a specific question to all of you animal right activists, including Leela Sampson: Do you guys ask for permission from the dogs and cats you neuter in the name of doing good to them while snatching away their identities as a male and their right to reproduce?
Leela Sampson performing a dance in what looks like traditional Silk saree
The point is, if you are in a particular place in the evolutionary hierarchy, then nature gives you the permission for specific rights with animals further down this hierarchy to satisfy your wants and needs. Primarily this is for food and your own survival, agreed. But we can also use them for certain other purposes like work, war, and entertainment. Without such help from animals taken without their permission throughout history from the bulls of Indus valley to the drunk war elephants of our kings, we wouldn't be having an Indian civilization now as we know it. We may not even be having a human civilization without farm tilling, milk producing and meat giving animals helping us along the way.
A man doesn't need permission from a fish to eat it if he wishes so. Even though we can do away with killing animals these days and still have a protein rich diet using just plant based products, no supreme court in the world can rule against such individual rights given by nature and age-old food traditions to ban meat consumption altogether. It is ridiculous to even think about having such a ban. This is the hard fact that every animal rights activist needs to accept and acknowledge.
Now it makes sense that as sensible, civilized humans, we should take care we do not hurt animals unnecessarily for entertainment and personal enjoyment. While silk sarees and leather fall at one end where you can actually make a strong logical argument on banning them, Jallikattu and using animals for some performance, sport, entertainment and as pets fall on the other end. It can be easily argued it is better than killing animals even if for food.
We are not destroying their lives here. Animals actually live healthy, productive lives and pass on their superior genes for the benefit of all because of such traditions and culture. I do not know why most rights activists seem to be extremists and generally turn out as hypocrites. The only sensible ones are people I found in that conclave were Dhanya of News Minute and RJ Balaji who understand the importance of tradition, culture, the sentiment of people and ask for an organized, civilized sport of Jallikattu.
If you are an animal rights activist who believes we cannot have Jallikattu as it amounts to cruelty and violation of animal rights. Please get educated on the sport, how the tradition of rearing Jallikattu bulls helps the farmers, the people, and the breeds themselves the first place. Get sensitized to traditional values and learn to respect people's age-old cultures. Don't be an extremist to ask for a complete ban while ignorantly equating Jallikattu with a practice like Sati and don't be a hypocrite to ask for permission from the bull to have Jallikattu.
Be sensible, be sensitive, be a sport and play your part in helping organize the few-thousand-year-old tradition of India in a civilized and just manner instead.