Men try to tame a bull at a traditional bull taming festival called "Jallikattu" in Palamedu near Madurai, India. AFP Photo
Men try to tame a bull at a traditional bull taming festival called "Jallikattu" in Palamedu near Madurai, India. AFP Photo

To grab a bull by the horns is now illegal in India



NEW DELHI // The decision to ban the ancient sport of bull wrestling in Tamil Nadu has been hailed as a “landmark victory” by animal rights activists but has upset traditionalists who see it as an important cultural institution.

In the Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of a petition by the Animal Welfare Board of India last week, a two-judge bench said the sport, known as jallikattu, was “a barbaric event involving unnecessary pain and suffering for the animals”.

Jallikattu and bullock cart racing – also banned by in the same decision – are the main events in harvest festivals celebrated in districts across Tamil Nadu every January and February. Young bulls, bred to compete in these events, bolt out of enclosures in a rage.

Young men, cheered on by the crowd, try to take down the animal in a number of ways – by trying to clasp and hold on to the bull for the longest time, or by attempting to grab prizes tied to the bull’s horns, or by banding together to “tame” the bull.

The goal is not to kill the animal. However, the bulls are often badly injured.

“Forcing a bull and keeping it in the waiting area for hours and subjecting it to the scorching sun is not for the animal’s well-being,” the judges said. “Forcing and pulling the bull by a nose rope into the narrow, closed enclosure … subjecting it to all forms of torture, fear, pain and suffering by forcing it to go to the arena and also overpowering it in the arena … are not for the well-being of the animal.”

Jallikattu had been banned temporarily by other courts, but the ban was always lifted after the Tamil Nadu government promised a stricter enforcement of laws to govern the sport. In 2009, Tamil Nadu regulated the sport for the first time.

The Supreme Court’s verdict “is a landmark victory for animals in India”, said a statement from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta). “Year after year, court guidelines or laws were violated during jallikattu and bull races, and countless bulls and people have suffered and even painfully died.”

Jallikattu was born out of the desire, on the part of cattle breeders, to showcase the best bulls in their village.

In its heyday a few decades ago, jallikattu was staged in nearly 3,000 towns in Tamil Nadu, with each event parading up to 50 bulls. But a gradual tightening of the rules has forced this number to dwindle. This year, only 15 or 20 towns hosted jallikattu meets.

M Karunanidhi, the president of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the leading opposition party in Tamil Nadu, has urged the state government to ask the Supreme Court to review its decision.

On Sunday, Mr Karunanidhi said jallikattu dated back to the classical Sangam era of Tamil culture, between the 3rd century BC and the 4th century AD.

Unlike the bullfighting customs of Spain, Mr Karunanidhi said, jallikattu does not require the slaying of animals. “Only bravery is given importance, and utmost care is taken to ensure the safety of the fighters and the bulls.”

However, the sport has recorded at least two deaths this year.

In January, a 55-year-old male spectator was gored to death in the Sivaganga district, and roughly 300 people – spectators as well as participants – were injured over the course of a week.

A boy, 12, died and 23 people were injured in a jallikattu event in Dindigul in February.

There is no comprehensive estimate of the number of fatalities and injuries caused by jallikattu over the years.

Balakumar Somu, a jallikattu aficionado, admits that the sport is a dangerous one, loaded against its human contestants.

“But accidents happen everywhere,” Mr Somu, a software engineer in the town of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, told The National. “Do we ban road traffic because people die in car accidents? We don’t.”

When he was in college, roughly 25 years ago, Mr Somu participated in a jallikattu event, which he said was well organised. A bull was released into an open ground, and a melee of 50-60 young men competed to whisk away a towel tied to the animal’s horns.

“There was no stress on the animal.”

The sport has changed since his youth, Mr Somu said. Jallikattu now involves more bruising contact with bulls, and the prizes have grown richer.

But he insisted that it was played cleanly, with little pain inflicted on the bull.

The 2009 act, in particular, did a fine job of deploying veterinarians at each meet to monitor the health and welfare of the bulls, he said.

This contradicted the findings of Peta, which in an investigation of seven jallikattu events this year, found evidence of cruelty to bulls.

Photographs released by Peta allegedly show abuse of the bulls, including owners and spectators prodding the bull with sticks, twisting or biting its tail, whipping, or feeding it liquor.

Mr Somu rejected these claims, saying he had never seen such practices.

“I’m an animal-rights activist myself,” Mr Somu said. “But we’re making a mistake by viewing this as a sport. We need to see it as a glue that holds together the fabric of rural Tamil Nadu.”

ssubramanian@thenational.ae

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The tenure is calculated on the number of days worked and does not include lengthy leave periods, such as a sabbatical. If you have worked for a company between one and five years, you are paid 21 days of pay based on your final basic salary. After five years, however, you are entitled to 30 days of pay. The total lump sum you receive is based on the duration of your employment.

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Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
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Industry: Sustainability & Environment
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Meydan race card

6pm Dubai Trophy – Conditions(TB)+$100,000 (Turf) 1,200m 

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1. Charlotte Kool (NED) – Team DSM: 2hrs, 47min, 14sec
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Goalkeepers: Ali Khaseif, Fahad Al Dhanhani, Mohammed Al Shamsi, Adel Al Hosani

Defenders: Bandar Al Ahbabi, Shaheen Abdulrahman, Walid Abbas, Mahmoud Khamis, Mohammed Barghash, Khalifa Al Hammadi, Hassan Al Mahrami, Yousef Jaber, Salem Rashid, Mohammed Al Attas, Alhassan Saleh

Midfielders: Ali Salmeen, Abdullah Ramadan, Abdullah Al Naqbi, Majed Hassan, Yahya Nader, Ahmed Barman, Abdullah Hamad, Khalfan Mubarak, Khalil Al Hammadi, Tahnoun Al Zaabi, Harib Abdallah, Mohammed Jumah, Yahya Al Ghassani

Forwards: Fabio De Lima, Caio Canedo, Ali Saleh, Ali Mabkhout, Sebastian Tagliabue, Zayed Al Ameri

Health Valley

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Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo

Power: 240hp at 5,500rpm

Torque: 390Nm at 3,000rpm

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Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

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UAE group fixtures (all in St Kitts)
Saturday 15 January: v Canada
Thursday 20 January: v England
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UAE squad
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Fashion director: Sarah Maisey
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Hair and make-up: Ania Poniatowska
Models: Nyajouk and Kristine at MMG, and Mitchell
Stylist’s assistants: Nihala Naval and Sneha Maria Siby
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Founders: Antti Arponen and Phil Reynolds

Based: UAE

Sector: financial services

Investment: $18.5 million

Employees: 150

Funding stage: series A, closed in 2021

Investors: venture capital companies, international funds, family offices, high-net-worth individuals

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Name: Enhance Fitness 

Year started: 2018 

Based: UAE 

Employees: 200 

Amount raised:+$3m 

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Group B: UAE, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea

UAE group fixtures:
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UAE squad: Chaya Mughal (captain), Esha Oza, Kavisha Kumari, Rinitha Rajith, Rithika Rajith, Khushi Sharma, Theertha Satish, Lavanya Keny, Priyanjali Jain, Suraksha Kotte, Natasha Cherriath, Indhuja Nandakumar, Vaishnave Mahesh, Siya Gokhale, Samaira Dharnidharka

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Name: Direct Debit System
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Director: S.J. Clarkson

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Main card

Bantamweight 56.4kg: Mehdi Eljamari (MAR) beat Abrorbek Madiminbekov (UZB), Split points decision

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Lightweight 60kg:  Zakaria Eljamari (UAE) beat Faridoon Alik Zai (AFG), RSC round 3

Light heavyweight 81.4kg: Taha Marrouni (MAR) beat Mahmood Amin (EGY), Unanimous points decision

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THE DETAILS

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Dir: David Leitch

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Justin Dennison, Zazie Beetz

Four stars

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Director: Bradley Cooper

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Maya Hawke

Rating: 3/5

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

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What went into the film

25 visual effects (VFX) studios

2,150 VFX shots in a film with 2,500 shots

1,000 VFX artists

3,000 technicians

10 Concept artists, 25 3D designers

New sound technology, named 4D SRL

 

Company profile

Company name: Twig Solutions (with trade name Twig)
Started: 2021
Founders: Chafic Idriss, Karam El Dik and Rayan Antonios
Based: UAE
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: bootstrapped (undisclosed)
Current number of staff: 13
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COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
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Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

Author: Kenneth W Harl
Publisher:
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Pages:
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Favourite book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Favourite travel destination: Maldives and south of France

Favourite pastime: Family and friends, meditation, discovering new cuisines

Favourite Movie: Joker (2019). I didn’t like it while I was watching it but then afterwards I loved it. I loved the psychology behind it.

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Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

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Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

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Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

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Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
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Price: From Dh1.05 million ($286,000)

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Director: James Wan

Starring: Jason Mamoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II 

Rating: 2/5

The Uefa Awards winners

Uefa Men's Player of the Year: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Uefa Women's Player of the Year: Lucy Bronze (Lyon)

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Goalkeeper: Alisson (Liverpool)

Defender: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Midfielder: Frenkie de Jong (Ajax)

Forward: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Uefa President's Award: Eric Cantona

INFO

What: DP World Tour Championship
When: November 21-24
Where: Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai
Tickets: www.ticketmaster.ae.

The biog

Prefers vegetables and fish to meat and would choose salad over pizza

Walks daily as part of regular exercise routine 

France is her favourite country to visit

Has written books and manuals on women’s education, first aid and health for the family

Family: Husband, three sons and a daughter

Fathiya Nadhari's instructions to her children was to give back to the country

The children worked as young volunteers in social, education and health campaigns

Her motto is to never stop working for the country