India and Tamil Nadu Clash over Jallikattu, Tamil Pride and Tamil Nationalism

Part II:

Tamil Pride, Tamil Nationalism, Tamil Grievances, Sense of Discrimination and Devolution of Power

Arumugam Kumaraswamy and Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, March 2018 (ID. 2018-03-02)
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Part II (this article):

12. Irritation over Ignorant Hindi Politicians Interfering in Tamil Life
13. Tamil Pride, Tamil Nationalism and Frustrations Over Discrimination of Tamils by Indian Government Overflow at Jallikattu Protests
14. Fringe Elements or Main Stream Tamil Nationalism
15. Decisions on Culture, Traditions and Heritage Should be Made by State Governments and State High Courts
16. Amend the Indian Constitution and Devolve Power to States
17. Devolution or Division

12. Irritation over Ignorant Hindi Politicians Interfering in Tamil Life

What particularly irritates us is a statement made by a Hindi-belt politician Ms. Maneka Gandhi, Indian Government Minister for Women and Child Development. She said, "Jallikattu tradition is western culture and BJP is against it." (The Hindu, January 17, 2015). She is not just a citizen. She is an Indian government minister belonging to the current ruling party "Bharatiya Janata Party" (BJP).

Eruthazhuvuthal (manju viraṭṭu, jallikattu) dates back to at least 2000 years (see Section 3) and is not "imported" from western countries. This Hindi-belt minister seems to know nothing about Tamil culture or history, but is in a position, as Indian government minister, to decide or influence decisions on cultural and traditional matters in Tamil Nadu. This should end. All matters relating to Tamil language, culture and traditions should be decided by the Government of Tamil Nadu or the high court consisting of judges from Tamil Nadu. This applies to all states. All internal affairs of a state should be decided by state government and high court without requiring approval from the Indian government. Amend the constitution accordingly.

13. Tamil Pride, Tamil Nationalism and Frustrations Over Discrimination of Tamils by Indian Government Overflow at Jallikattu Protests

During the jallikattu protests, there was an overflow of emotions of Tamil pride, Tamil nationalism and frustration and anger over Indian government’s discriminatory treatment of Tamil Nadu on a wide range of issues ranging from (1) Hindi imposition, (2) Cauvery water issue, (3) inaction over Sri Lankan Navy shooting, injuring and killings of Tamil Nadu fishermen, and (4) actions and inactions during the Tamil Eelam war in Sri Lanka that ended in defeat of Tamil militants there in 2009.

Ban on jallikattu was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Pent up frustrations and anger over Indian government’s step-motherly treatment of Tamil Nadu erupted in these demonstrations. Ordinary people, political analysts and journalist did observe it as evidenced from headlines and news reports in many newspapers and magazines. Here we present a few examples. Notes within square parentheses [ ] are added by authors to put things in proper context and perspective.

13.1 Online news magazine TheMinuteNews.com (January 19, 2017)

Online news magazine TheMinuteNews.com (January 19, 2017) under the headline "The Jallikattu Protest Is About an Eternal Lament of Being Tamil".

The protest is no longer, and perhaps never was, only about Jalikattu. It has, however, become the rallying point for disgruntlement of the Tamil people, from Tamil Eelam to Cauvery River water-sharing... The eternal lament of being a Tamil and Indian government never caring for it… “Tamilians and our issues are never taken seriously”, says 36-year-old Professor Selvakumar.

13.2 Online news magazine Scroll.in (January 22, 2017)

Online news magazine Scroll.in (January 22, 2017) under the headline "On the fringes of jallikattu protests, Tamil nationalism attempts to emerge.”

The full headline is “On the fringes of jallikattu protests, Tamil nationalism attempts to emerge. From banners of LTTE leader Prabhakaran to slogans demanding a separate Tamil nation, the protests have taken a different turn". [LTTE was the armed rebel group that unsuccessfully fought for an independent Tamil country called “Tamil Eelam” in Sri Lanka until 2009; Prabhakaran was their leader and he was killed in battlefield in 2009.]

The Marina beach [protests] started on or about January 17. It took a Tamil nationalism tone as days went by. Voices against Hindi imposition were heard. A placard read “Modhalla Maadu, Apparum Thani Tamil Nadu” (First the bull and then a separate Tamil Nadu). Posters calling [Indian] Republic Day as black day and threats to disrupt Republic Day parade were heard. Some who participated in the Jallikattu protests distanced themselves from these nationalist slogans and placards. Some key persons who drove the protests seem to have recognised the turn the agitation has taken, and have disassociated themselves from it. Some protestors on Marina beach displayed posters of Prabhakaran [The Tamil leader who led the unsuccessful armed rebellion against the Sri Lankan government for a separate Tamil nation in the Sri Lanka. He was killed in the battlefield in 2009]. Asked why they did so, the response was that he was a hero of the Tamils. “There is nothing wrong in celebrating him because everything that he did was for the benefit of Tamils,” said RM Kumar, an employee of a construction company. Thus the mass outburst in support of jallikattu is seen as an expression of pent-up discontent against the Union government [Indian government]. By projecting jallikattu as a common Tamil cultural tradition under threat, another issue has been added to the long list of Tamil grievances. R Bhaskaran, another jallikattu agitator in Chennai, said that the demand to make Tamil an official language in India has remained unfulfilled for decades. “They are trying to destroy our language,” he said. Many of these Tamil groups couched anti-India sentiment within anti-North India rhetoric, primarily to evade legal action. In their public meetings, a threat made repeatedly was that if the Union government did not heed the demands and aspirations of the people of Tamil Nadu, the unity of India would be in danger.

13.3 The Hindu (January 22, 2017)

“But then jallikattu was only an excuse. The invocation of Tamil pride and culture seemed to resonate very well among the people of Tamil Nadu. ... A hundred, nay, a thousand resentments stirred in the pot, and jallikattu was merely the skim. ...Why are you protesting? “For jallikattu and Tamil culture and heritage”, was the easy answer that people gave, rather spontaneously… "This is all for upholding Tamil pride,” said a woman. A young man said in Madurai, “If we are still sitting on the rails despite rain or shine, it is only to retrieve our Tamil culture and

13.4 Hindustan Times (January 13, 2017)

A political analyst said the defiance was also symbolic of Tamilian anger over the perceived injustice on several issues – from Cauvery water sharing, arrest of fishermen* and an assault on language and culture and traditions. “The ban and refusal of the BJP government at the Centre to issue an ordinance is nothing but an assault on Tamil pride and an attempt to destroy Tamil culture and tradition,” said K Pandimuthu, a Jallikattu organiser in Cuddalore. [*Arrests, shootings and property damage by Sri Lankan Navy, and Indian government not doing anything effective diplomatically or economically.]

13.5 Business Standard (January 20, 2017)

Most of the anger is focused against the Centre [Indian Central Government]. “When a group of Gujarati fishermen strayed into Pakistani waters you said Indian fishermen were arrested by the Pakistan navy, but when Tamil Nadu fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan forces, you claimed that Tamil fishermen were taken into custody by the Lankan navy. Are we not Indians?” is the query posed by A. Gajendran, a first-year B.A. student from a city college.

The general perception among them is that the Centre is not according proper respect to the Tamil’s sentiments. “… Centre has an inherent bias against Tamil Nadu and continues to humiliate us,” says E. Janakiraman, an undergraduate from a city college.

14. Fringe Elements or Main Stream Tamil Nationalism

In Section 13.2, we referred to the online news magazine Scroll.in headline, “On the fringes of jallikattu protests, Tamil nationalism attempts to emerge”. In our opinion, whether those feelings of Tamil nationalism are on the fringe or the main stream is anyone’s guess. Yes, some people and celebrities distanced themselves from “Tamil nationalism”. Yet in a country where anyone mentioning an independent Tamil Nadu (separate from India) would be arrested or at least harassed by police in spite of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech, people do hesitate to express their Tamil national aspirations. When people’s voices are muzzled, it is difficult to know what is in their hearts.

Political parties would not even whisper Tamil Nadu independence because any party or person espousing it cannot contest in elections per the Sixteenth Amendment to the Indian Constitution in 1963. Only a secret referendum (vote) on the question would reveal the true feelings of the people. No one knows what the outcome of the referendum would be.

15. Decisions on Culture, Traditions and Heritage Should be Made by State Governments and State High Courts

In a country with so many distinct and different cultures, traditions and languages, decisions on these matters should be made at the state level by state governments and state high courts with all the judges from within the state. Laws passed at the state legislative assembly by majority of its members (MLAs) should need only be approved by the state governor. There should be no requirement of approval by Indian government.

We want to point out that 100% of the members of the state legislative assembly (MLAs) voted for the removal of the ban on jallikattu. India’s ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not win a single seat in the state legislative assembly; it received less than 3% votes in the 2016 assembly elections. Even in the 2014 parliamentary elections, BJP received less than 6% votes in Tamil Nadu.

Is it democracy when a party that got less than 3% votes in the state legislative assembly elections, and less than 6% votes in the parliamentary elections in the state can over-rule and over-turn laws pertaining to internal matters of the state passed by the democratically elected state government? No, it is not democracy. It is just crazy.

16. Amend the Indian Constitution and Devolve Power to States

We would like to see the constitution amended such that the people of the state are able to pass laws on all internal matters of the state. Laws relating to culture and tradition should be exclusively under state jurisdiction. If some traditions seem out-of-date, it should be brought to the state government or state high court for review and revision, as necessary. We do not see a role for the Indian government or the Supreme Court on matters internal to the state.

In this context, we want to point out that the state governor should be from within the state and elected by the people or the state legislative assembly. The current procedure of the Indian government appointing governors from other states is unacceptable and undemocratic.

Similarly all judges in the State High Court should be from within the state. The current requirement that some of the judges should be from out of state is an insult to states.

17. Devolution or Division

In our opinion, devolution of power over all internal affairs to states is the only way to keep together the many states with diverse languages and cultures. If such devolution is not forthcoming, the country may divide itself into the constituent linguistic states.


1. Introduction
2. Etymology or Origin of the Name Jallikattu
3. Antiquity of Jallikattu
4. Are Bulls Harmed? Why the Opposition from Critics?
5. The Supreme Court Ban and Tamil Nadu Wants it Removed by Law
6. Indian Government Charade and Duplicity
7. The 2017 Jallikattu Protests
8. Who was Responsible for Starting the Violence in Chennai?
9. The 2017 Protests End in Success
10. Is it Only a Temporary Success?
11. Who is Responsible for All the Hardships from the Protests?



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