15 April, 2024


Tamil Nadu Students Challenge State & Centre

By S. Sivathasan

S. Sivathasan

“When it concerns our revered Motherland
We shall no longer wring our impotent hands”- Bharathi

The eruption in Tamil Nadu had assumed volcanic proportions last week. Even as it was scoring an epic victory, it was throttled at the neck before it could reach the vent and spew out it’s molten lava. Yet history was made in the legislative Assembly by the Tamils, with students in the forefront, populace in support and the legislators in tow. At the sensible insistence of the students and the youth the state and centre acted responsively and enacted the desired legislation. This was an act of political triumph.

Over Two Million Demonstrators

A vast concourse of students, adults and children assembled in 132 locations across the whole state was unprecedented. They numbered over 2 million and Chennai Marina alone accounted for 1 million. Commitment to a cause – demand for legal recognition of their rights by Centre and State – brought them together. Peaceable protest and orderly demonstration were their weapons of choice. With food and drinks given liberally by the community as a gesture of participation and support, crowds swelled by the day. In a show of persistence, they stayed put for 6 consecutive days.

Purpose Driven Discipline

Did Tamil Nadu see a surge of the students in anger and wrath with verve and determination for a mere prosaic Jallikattu – embracing the youthful bulls? That would be to look at a pointed finger but failing to see the direction. The Tamil nation knew the underlying reason and India admired the motivation, depth of feeling, gigantic organization and self-discipline. In passing it may be said social media had placed in their hands, modern instruments for facile communication and an unprecedented phenomenon was seen.

On the second day of the protest, as is standard practice lights were cut off at night to sow chaos. A lakh of mobile phones flashed instantly and lit up the Marina. There wasn’t a single instance of hurt for a man, woman, girl or child. In keeping with national programme of ‘Neat India’, garbage accumulating at 100 tons a day at the Marina was cleared by volunteers without a break. All these acts won the admiration of the Indian polity.

A view of the Marina with its protesters

Clear Direction

All for what? To secure a worthwhile objective. Among protests and demonstrations in Tamil Nadu since independence, three stand out in scale, intensity and result orientation. They are: 1) Anti – Hindi agitation of January 1965, which resulted in a regime change from Congress to DMK in1967. The change secured the language demands of Tamils through a legislative amendment in December 1967 for “virtual indefinite policy of bilingualism” ie use of English and Hindi in official transactions. 2) Students in Ferment of March 2013, which galvanized the youth and 3) The Student Movement of January 2017, which brought in the desired legislation to the statute book, in respect of Jallikattu.

Such developments were in the logic of progress and were foreseen. In an article – ‘Tamil Nadu in Ferment’ – published in the Colombo Telegraph of April 13, 2013 this writer said “The significance of the struggle defines an altogether new political direction in the state. The change in its incipient stage as of now portends great challenges to Delhi”. In the week following Thai Pongal, Tamil Nadu was constrained to enact legislation to sanction Jallikattu. Delhi sensed the dead heat of Chennai Marina and responded proactively.

In the march of time, a journey is continuous. This writer added further in that article, “The groundwork is laid for a new forceful formation to emerge. It will not raise plaintive cries to Delhi. A new equilibrium is in the making and fresh bearings have to be taken therefrom.” This shift has come to pass and Delhi has been challenged not with a plaintiff plea but with an aggressive demand. The very sequence of events and the supersonic speed with which the legislative arrangements were executed have left many an Indian citizen aghast.

Mukul Rohatgi, Attorney General of India

With absolute clarity of mind the Attorney General of India, unlike all else veered from untying the Gordian Knot but cut it with a single stroke. He said on Thursday 19th of January “Only probable way to end the crisis was if the state came up with its own law”. He added that “sport was a state subject and the state government had the power and the right to make a law allowing a sport”. Safeguards against cruelty can be appropriately included.

Thus, what seemed a thick haze surrounding a labyrinthine legal process was deftly removed. It may be said that pressure from the students and other younger segments, activated the cerebral process, brought in clarity and stirred accelerated action in Chennai and Delhi. From then on Jallikattu received the attention to resolve a crisis.

Hectic Action

The state government taking the cue from the Attorney General, cracked into action. The CM of Tamil Nadu O. PanneerSelvam presumably with draft law in hand, took flight to Delhi to meet PM, Modi . The appointment was for 30 minutes but the discussion lasted 2 hours. At the end of it Modi assured the CM that he would do all in his power to resolve the problem.

CM scheduled to return to Chennai had to cancel his flight back in order to finalize the draft law with the law officers of Delhi. He returned on Saturday morning and the draft law was approved by TN government. Governor was out of the state and endorsement was obtained in the evening. This emergency Act was rejected by the students who wanted a permanent one. CM’s pleas and explanations cut no ice with the students.

The following day Monday morning the Legislative Assembly met and proceeded with the first item, the Governor’s Address. The Jallikattu Bill was passed unanimously for a permanent dispensation to the satisfaction of all. Governor’s assent was obtained immediately thereafter. An event of gigantic proportions and historic significance conducted with dignity and poise, shook the state and the country. Yet a malign destiny intervened to spoil the day with mayhem unleashed by the police.

What Happened and Why?

What vexed the Tamils was their current condition out of joint with their perception of past greatness. Distance in time continues to lend enchantment to the view. The times of Cholan Karikalan as found in Sangam Tamil literature are alluring. Exploits of Raja Raja Cholan are filled with splendor and glory. Scholars recount them. Namakkal Ramalingampillai the first Tamil poet laureate after independence said famously, “We have been a great people, people with a rich heritage. May we do all we can to regain such glory”.

Young men and women with their hearts pulsating with idealism sacrificed the best in them. But they didn’t see their motherland growing in step. They were the sacrificial segments but expropriators were the beneficiaries of the economic fruits. They ploughed, sowed and reaped but the harvest went to those with power. They failed to get a share in 1967, in 2013 and not even credit in 2017.

If this writer’s thinking is right, this foolery will not persist much longer. When students generate heat, politicals flock to monopolize the warmth. In 1965 students accommodated them. When this happened in March 2013, youth showed them the way back. When they repeated this noxious practice in January 2017, they were roughly shuffled out. What change awaits Tamil Nadu? A drastic one with revolutionary features.

Why such discomforting times are seen? Today Tamil Nadu has an elected Chief Minister. Parading alongside is an ignoble parallel government comprising unelected vulgar usurpers. Even the Jallikattu victory they prate is theirs. The students know what they are about and what they are up to. It is reported that the CM has cautioned the PM of the lurking danger. The latter is supposed to have advised the informant to look after his work and that he will take care of the danger. This information was in the public domain.

Degenerate usurpers are on the prowl in Tamil Nadu. They have swindled the state for far too long, Yet they want to bleed the people white. Deep seated Resentment pent up for long seems to nourish drastic measures. The day of Jallikattu was the occasion for a convulsion. Adding fuel to fire was Kaveri water dispute and the partial stance taken by the central government, the same discriminatory stance on Mullaiperiyar dam and several other issues. In January the students and adults removed their kid gloves.

The group on the defensive with hands on certain levers of power appears to dread coming events. It is unable to watch without fear the unqualified success of the student movement. This would explain the violence let loose on them. A great endeavor got a brief setback. However, keen observers are in the know and the students’ challenge is for ever.

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Latest comments

  • 1

    Will the Sinhala youths in Hambantota follow the example of Tamil Nadu students in preventing the handing over of the Hambantota port and over 15000 acres of land to Chinese government companies?

    If they do follow the Tamil Nadu students I believe they should succeed. However the problem in Sri Lanka is that no such genuine protests from the students or youths would be forthcoming because of the politicization of all issues by vested Sinhala political parties opposed to each other.

    Handing over of the Hambantota port and 15000 acres of land to alien government agencies to run them for 99 years for a pittance is really an issue of Sri Lanka losing its sovereignty over vital strategic assets. No true sovereign country will ever think of doing that.

    • 3

      Tamil Nadu nationalists who for decades were fixated on Sri Lanka (having been DELIBERATELY diverted by RAW and IB’s covert support for LTTE), to focus on Sri Lanka Tamil issue have now returned to trouble New Delhi.

      Tamil Nationalism in India is alive and well and pretty horrific phenomenon. IB and RAW will again try to de-stablize SL to distract the Jalikkattu Protestors against Delhi, by setting up another LTTE war in Sri Lanka Lanka.

      Sri Lanka must be very careful to not let this happen and not let RAW and IB do not set up another LTTE insurgency to distract Tamil Nadu Jalikaarue nationalists from their grievances with New Delhi.

      Indira Gandhi achieved national unity by externalizing and destabilizing India’s borders and neighbouring countries. That is why RAW and IB set up LTTE and other Tamil groups in Sri Lanka to distract the Chennai TN nationalists.

    • 6

      The rallying point of the TN youth were Tamil Nationalism. In Sri Lanka, Sinhala people hardly rally around Sinhala nationalism. They are very much less tribal.

    • 1

      The beginning of the end!

      Good news for SL.

  • 6

    I would have preferred the students to demonstrate for a better cause than demand rights to be cruel to the young bulls( this is barbaric).

    • 0

      [Edited out] Comments should not exceed 300 words.Please read our Comments Policy for further details.

    • 3

      Jallikattu is some thing that is not a Pongal feature for Lankan Tamils.
      They used to have it as a sport.
      Two wheeled bullock racing cart races to mark the occasion was in vogue till about the end of the 1970’s.
      The winner in each category was given prizes by organisers of such events.
      Now as far as I am aware because of the popularity of agricultural machinery such as land masters and tractors the necessity for bulls to be used for ploughing and carting has lost a sizeable importance.
      That could be a reason for a gradual change in cultural tradition in the near future due of the limitation of land and manpower and factors such as unpredictable fluctuations in price for economic engagement in agricultural pursuits for profits in the face of unpredictable weather patterns.
      In Tamil Nadu the situation of course is different. There there is water scarecity when compared with the availability of land extent and manpower and the potential of economical viability to engage in agriculture.
      The campaign during the Pongal festivities for Jallikattu ( taming the bull) there should be regarded from the point of view of how people there regard as important in their view.
      What the author of the article has importantly addressed is contained in the contents of his penultimate paragraph and the one before that.

  • 4

    Mr.Sivathasan–Long time no see?!

    The students have achieved their cause with the Power of united and steadfast show of strength,though I cant see the virtues of Jallikattu.
    Anyway,with this experience,they should now direct their energies towards a great catastrophe that awaits the State from usurpers,Interlopers and swindlers who are waiting in the wings to capture the State.This time around they will have to ensure their cause will not be bought over with money.

  • 2

    This was one of most civilised, disciplined demonstration by the youth of TamilNadu. Further, there was no organised leader organising this campaign.

  • 4

    Jallikattu demonstration is a pious and disciplined display of purpose and strength to acquire right to exercise cruelty over innocent animals. These youths deserve no praise but insignias of barbarism. Mr. Sivathasan has been jubilant over killing field rights!

    • 0


      I am as ignorant as you are on this Jallikattu matter.

      Could you explain what is beneath the ceremonial sports?

  • 1


    Sorry to note that you could not do, what the Tamil Nadu students did.

    Tamil Nadu students challenged State & Centre, but you could challenge neither Varatharajaperumal nor Chandrika Kumaratunga nor Thondaman.

    What happened to the election victory of Hillary Clinton?

    Have you got an explanation for Trump’s victory?

    Articles and predictions should be mean full; otherwise it is waste of time.

  • 1

    I have been waiting for this to happen for a long time…..

    This movement is organic and it’s not about Jallikattu.. Have people forgotten that most of people in TN don’t even eat beef for religious reasons? Who would accuse them for animal cruelty?

    The real problem is producing beef from animal farms because it requires significantly more resources for land, fertilizer and water. Also cattle from animal farms produce more methane to the environment than other sources. Champions of animal rights should focus on real problems. Perhaps they can volunteer to kids from slums to get some education in TN!

    Thousands of coders from TN are working on various social media platforms to form people’s government in all over the world. It’s such a shame even CEO of Google came from TN but clowns are running the show in TN for a long time!

    Guess who is going to speed up this movement… Mr Trump!

    Indians are obsessed with American culture. Trump also loves Indian culture. It won’t take long for educated young Indians to think like Mr Trump!

  • 3

    Mr. Silva who has cast derogatory comments about Sivathasan and his comments has to concentrate more about horse racing in Srilanka and using elephants for his “vesak” ceremonies.

    • 2


      “Mr. Silva who has cast derogatory comments about Sivathasan and his comments has to concentrate more about horse racing in Srilanka and using elephants for his “vesak” ceremonies. “

      What the fuck do you say is derogatory in my comment. And how the fuck do you say it is “my” vesak ceremonies and horse racing?

  • 1

    What the lesson that we learnt from this uprising of students and the public is the most important aspect of democracy and democratic rule. No matter the JALLIKATTU is animal cruelty or not. Ahimsa or Non Violent movement of protest introduced by Mahatma Gandhi to fight for the rights of people is a very powerful weapon and it was followed by Martin Luther King in the US as well to win the rights of African Americans and finally produced a Barack Obama in the history. Application of Ahimsa by masses of people has been cracked by the by act of violent or terrorism of the rulers.Britian applied violence against Ghand’s movement, US applied violence against Martin Luther King’s movement,SJV Chelvanayagam’s non violent movement was cracked by violent act of governments and finally TN students ahimsa movement has been cracked by the rulers barbarically. Finally, Ahimsa won all occasions mostly.
    With regards to animal cruelty there are numerous examples such as slaughtering animals for meat,Horse race and Greyhound industry, Keeping and maintaining Zoos and use of Elephants and Camels for carrying heavy items are few examples which this PETA does not see because states support these things and make multi billion dollars. Non violent uprisings are most powerful tool that anyone can apply with desciplin to topple down the arrogant behaviour of rulers.

  • 4

    The author does not state what prompted all this action in Tamil Nadu and New Delhi. He focusses the uprising of the people. According to news reports the Supreme Court of India banned the sport on grounds of cruelty to animals in 2014 and stangely it took 2 to 3 years for this sudden burst of public action. Apparently the relevant law as applicable to Tamil Nadu was changed. As to whether the matter now has ended or not is yet to be seen.

    Incidently when the Supreme Court of USA gave a ruling on school admissions and it was scuttled in the State of Arkansas way back in 1950’s President Eisenhower had no option to take federal action. He was subject to criticism for Fedaralising the issue but he did so to uphold the rule of law and maintain order.

    What was done in Tamil Nadu could have been done without all this fuss. But if there was no fuss and protest it would have taken years to make the bureaucratic machinary moving. On the negative side it is passing a message to the judiciary, namely, “Don’t get entangled into matters relating to Tamil Nadu”, and if so, where is the much cherished value of rule of law?

    • 2

      Jayagath Perera

      You have made 1 inquiry and 3 observations. All 4 are pertinent for an intelligent discourse. So I set out to throw some light on them.
      1) Why it took 2 – 3 years for a burst of public action?
      2) In Tamil Nadu what was done could have been done without all this fuss.
      3) Without fuss it could have taken years to make the machinery moving.
      4) “Don’t get entangled in matters relating to Tamil Nadu “, was the state’s message to the centre.

      In Pongal 2014, jalli kattu (jk) was part of the celebrations. So it was in 2015. Pongal 2016 had the sport as usual. It apparently took a different dimension in that year. April/May 2016 being state election time in Tamil Nadu BJP desired a show of popular presence in TN.

      The following build-up of pronouncements and events led the Tamils up the garden path. The Environment Minister PJ, Junior Minister PR and State President of BJP T, stated that jk will be part of Pongal event.

      This announcement enthused all Tamils and energized the youth. This was contested by Animal Welfare Board of India, a government constituted board as violating the Supreme Court Order of May 2014. The Attorney General advised caution. Despite all what was happening, M/En. Issued a notification exempting jk bulls from the list of animals for sport or entertainment. On January 11 AWBI petitioned the Supreme Court which stayed the order. Yet JK went on as usual.

      The year turned out to be different. Legality seemed on top. Student’s determination was much above it.
      For 2 & 3 find the answer in the 2 paras on the Attorney General. Acts of default by both centre and state had bought it about,

      As for 4, the message is don’t Tamils for granted. They are no pushovers.

  • 3

    Taming and having ab Elephant is more cruel than any thing. If you can kill and eat millions of cows and bulls Jallicattu is nothing when you compare it. Have you baned Killing bulls with impregnated swords done as a cultural event.

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