22nd JANUARY 2019

A) Death by design: on jallikattu

Tighter Regulations Cannot Eliminate The Element Of Danger Intrinsic To Jallikattu

In situations involving humans and animals, Murphy’s law takes a strong hold: if things can go wrong, they most likely will. Jallikattu may have drawn the attention of animal rights activists for the innumerable accounts of cruelty to bulls, but the deaths fall mostly on the human side of the ledger. The animals suffer but generally survive the ordeal, while a few youth lose their lives. A tragedy as in Viralimalai in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu, where two men were gored to death by bulls, was waiting to happen. Whatever the precautions taken, and there were many, one cannot prepare for the behaviour of a rampaging bull. Viralimalai jallikattu may not be as famedas the Alanganallur or Palamedu events, but this year it had the full weight of the government behind it. The event was organised by Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar, a bull-owner himself, in an attempt to create a ‘record’ for the largest number of bulls in a single arena. The event got a bigger profile with Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami in attendance. Multi-tier metal galleries wereerected on either side of the arena to accommodate the thousands who had turned up to watch the contest. Double barricades were in place at the vaadivasal, the entry point for the bulls, but the tragedy happened at the exit point, the open area for collection of the bulls after the event. The contest was over, and the bull-tamers were no longer chasing the bulls. But how were the bulls to know? An owner trying to rein in his bull was gored to death by another behind him, and a spectator who wandered out of the protective cover at the scene of action bled to death on beingpierced in the abdomen.

Could anything have been done differently? In keeping with the guidelines set by the Supreme Court to regulate the sport, the Health Department had also deployed teams of doctors from Pudukottai. Medical experts from Tiruchi and Thanjavur Medical Colleges were deployed to attend to emergency cases. A makeshift operation theatre was also set up at the venue. After Sunday’s tragedy, jallikattu events of the future might have barricades at the collection points too. But danger is in the very nature of the blood sport that is jallikattu. Unpredictability is intrinsic to the sport. Attempts to ban the sport have been opposed on the ground that it is an inseparable part of Tamil Nadu’s culture. The Tamil Nadu government in 2017 took the ordinance route to allow for the holding of jallikattu following a ban by the Supreme Court, and the Centre exempted bulls from the rules framed for ensuring the well-being of performing animals. After every loss of human life the regulations might get tighter, but the danger to the life and limb of participants, spectators, and bull-owners will remain in the conduct of jallikattu.


B) Summit 2.0: the second Trump-Kim meeting

A Second Trump-Kim Meeting Could Do With A Chinese Nudge And A South Korean Whisper

Even though there was little progress in achieving the goals set in the historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea in June 2018, the announcement of a second summit next month is a step in the right direction. The fact that Pyongyang has ceased its nuclear muscle-flexing, and has not tested any nuclear- capable device or launched any missile for more than a year, is reason for continued patience and confidence in the dialogue. The Singapore meeting generated mutual goodwill and hopes of a breakthrough. But in the declaration the leaders had promised a denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula withoutindicating a timetable or the modalities of reaching that far-sighted end- goal. In the months since the meeting, Pyongyang’s anticipation of an easing of U.S. sanctions have not materialised, while information about the inventory of North Korean nuclear stockpiles that Washington hadsought as a first step towards a verifiable dismantling of the North Korean arsenal, has not been forthcoming. Underscoring the stalemate, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stated days before the announcement of the coming bilateral summit that Pyongyang had made little headway on its commitments. Similarly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s persistent efforts since the Singapore meeting have come to nought. The concept of “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula that formed the crux of the Singapore declaration has become a subject of conflicting interpretations. Pyongyang insists that the expression must have a wider meaning and include the U.S. military umbrella that extends across South Korea and Japan. It contends that North Korea will be the first target in the event of a pre-emptive U.S. strike. For nuclear hawks in Washington, the stalemate is at best a case of Mr. Trump’s diplomatic gambit having gone awry and at worst, an impasse that allows Pyongyang to prevaricate and give nothing away.

Against this backdrop, the prospects for any meaningful progress appear to hinge on mediation by Beijing and Seoul. Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s President, favours rapprochement with the neighbour, and a lasting resolution of the Washington-Pyongyang nuclear imbroglio, advocating dialogue. After his recent meeting with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Mr. Kim reinforced his pledge to rid the region of nuclear arms and expressed a willingness for another summit with Mr. Trump. But he emphasised Pyongyang’s need for security guarantees, replacing the decades-long armistice with a formal peace treaty to mark the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War. Toning down his rhetoric, President Trump has displayed a readiness to wait and watch. It is notcertain if the sober mood will translate into tangible outcomes. But that would be a credible offer that can lure Mr. Kim to reciprocate on the nuclear front.