The Union Ministry of Law and Justice has cleared the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill 2017, legalising Kambala, a traditional race involving buffaloes.
The bill will now be sent to the President for his assent, after which it would become a law. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party have been in huge favour of sports such as Kambala that have a strong link with the local culture.
• In November 2016, the Karnataka high court banned kambala (annual buffalo race) along with bull-cart race in the state while hearing a case filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) citing animal cruelty.
• The high court had stayed these traditional sports in view of the Supreme Court’s ban on jallikattu, a traditional bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu.
• The Karnataka Assembly, however, had passed Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2017 on February 13, 2017 to allow kambala, following protests by people and Kambala organisers.
• In April 2017, the Union Home Ministry asked the state government to modify or omit the phrase “subject to such other conditions as may be prescribed” in the sub-section 2 of section 3 of the Bill, as the phrase would make it possible for the state government to include more sports involving animals through government notifications in the future.
• The state government made the modifications and sent it back to the union government.
• It is an annual Buffalo Race that is held traditionally under the sponsorship of local landlords and households in the coastal districts of Karnataka, India to entertain the rural people.
• Slushy/marshy paddy field track is used for Kambala. The sports season generally starts in November and lasts until March.
• The contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair race in two separate wet rice field tracks, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer.
• Historically, the winning pair of buffaloes was rewarded with coconuts and bananas. Now, gold coins, silver coins are given and in some competitions, cash awards are also popular.
• In the traditional form of Kambala, buffalo racing is non-competitive and Buffalo pairs run one by one in paddy fields.
• In recent times, however, Kambala has become an organised rural sport with elaborate planning and scheduling to accommodate competitions at different places.
• To ensure smooth operation of the same, a ‘Kambala Committee’ is formed and it arranges races in several categories like Kane Halage, Hagga Hiriya, Hagga Kiriya,Halage, Adda Halage .
• A well-organised Kambala attracts over 20000 spectators who cheer on the Buffaloes to complete the race.
• Besides this, some agriculturists also race their buffaloes as a means to thank the gods for protecting their animals from disease.