Jallikattu: A movement or flash mob?

What began as an expression of outrage on social media has exploded in the streets on Tamil Nadu where thousands of youth have gathered to stage an indefinite protest seeking an ordinance to lift the

Published: 19th January 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th January 2017 08:27 AM   |  A+A-

What began as an expression of outrage on social media has exploded in the streets on Tamil Nadu where thousands of youth have gathered to stage an indefinite protest seeking an ordinance to lift the ban on Jallikattu, a traditional bulltaming sport. Protests began in Alanganallur, a popular venue for the event, before spreading to other parts of the State almost spontaneously.

The angst has its roots in the displeasure over what is perceived as callousness of the officials— State, Centre and even the Supreme Court—in valuing the land’s culture. But what happens when the culture of the land in not in consonance with the law of the land? There are several issues to be considered, questions that require dispassionate and objective processing.

The top court, after considering the evidence, has taken the decision not to lift the ban on the sport. The demand now is to promulgate an ordinance to overcome the hurdle. Experts are still debating the propriety in introducing such measures through an ordinance, with its opponents arguing that a move which bypasses the Parliament is undemocratic. Disregarding the apex court because of a campaign, regardless of its virulence, would only help weaken the polity.

The campaigners should also follow the rules of a democratic engagement. There is virtually none to present the other side, as dissenting voices have been gored by cyber bullying. Creating consent by majoritarian coercion does not favour democracy.

After protests ongoing in the recent years garnered surprising patronage from the youth in the last few days, there are talks about this being their awakening, and even as the dawn of a new politics. But that requires a longer engagement, willingness to work within the paradigm drawn by the Constitution and functional norms adopted over the years, and ability to accommodate dissonance within democracy. All other short bursts are known as flash mobs.

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