IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


20th January, 2024 Economy


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Picture Courtesy: www.vikatan.com

Context: Several Pulikulam bulls were featured in the recent Pongal celebrations, highlighting their cultural importance.

Pulikulam Breed

  • The Pulikulam breed has a rich history and is deeply rooted in the cultural and agricultural landscape of Tamil Nadu.
  • The domestication of cattle globally occurred around 7,000-8,000 years ago, with one of the locations being the Indus Valley of South Asia.

Jallikattu's Ancient Origins

  • Jallikattu or Eru Thazhuvuthal, the bull-baiting sport associated with the Pulikulam breed, has historical roots dating back at least 4,500 years. This is evidenced by the works of scholars and the presence of depictions on Indus seals.

Regional Variation in Cattle

  • Different regions in India have distinct types of cattle. Northern India has milch animals, middle India has dual-purpose animals, and southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu, has breeds like Mysuru-type animals primarily used for drought purposes.

Significance of Kangayam Breed

  • The Kangayam breed is recognized as the 'forerunner of all breeds' in Tamil Nadu, including Pulikulam, Umbalachery, Bargur, and Alambadi. The Kangayam breed closely resembles the cattle depicted in Indus art.

Recognition by NBAGR

  • The Pulikulam breed, originating from a small village in the Sivaganga district near Madurai, gained recognition from the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR), showcasing its importance in the cattle diversity of India.

Connection to Ancient Tamil Literature

  • Tolkappiyam's Landscape Division: Tolkappiyam, the oldest extant text of Tamil literature dating back 3,000 years, divides the landscape of ancient Tamil country into five types, each protected by a deity: mountains, forests, seashore, cropland, and dry land.
  • Sangam Era and Bull Baiting Sport: The Sangam Era, following Tolkappiyam, is considered a Golden Age for ancient Tamils. It was characterized by a casteless, classless society with significant literacy. Sangam Era literature celebrates the bull-baiting sport, highlighting the deep connection between humans and livestock.

Pulikulam Breed and Jallikattu

  • Pulikulam, recognized by the NBAGR, is extensively used in Jallikattu events, along with other breeds like Umbalachery and Kangayam.
  • Tamil Nadu has a Pulikulam Breeding Research Station near Madurai, contributing to the preservation and promotion of the breed. Quality calves are provided to farmers and livestock owners.

Legends and Realities

  • Defensive Abilities Against Carnivores: Legends, such as the one about Pulikulam bulls fighting off tigers, may have roots in the reality of cattle's defensive abilities in herds against large carnivores like tigers and leopards.
  • Transhumance Lifestyle: Examples from other regions, like Bargur, demonstrate how cattle herds, when formed into a defensive kraal, can shield themselves from predators, including tigers and leopards.

Impact of Jallikattu Controversy

  • Prized Bulls Sold for Slaughter: During the height of the Jallikattu controversy, some prized Pulikulam bulls were reportedly sold for slaughter, causing disillusionment among breed enthusiasts.
  • Revival Post-Legislation: The lifting of the ban on Jallikattu through legislation, supported by protests and government actions, has led to a renewed interest in indigenous breeds like Pulikulam. This positive shift suggests an increase in the population of the breed.


  • The Pulikulam breed holds cultural, historical, and agricultural significance in Tamil Nadu. Its association with Jallikattu and the efforts for its preservation reflect the complex interplay between tradition, modernity, and biodiversity conservation in the region.


Q. What is Pulikulam, recently in the news?

A) A new species of tiger discovered in India

B) A traditional cattle breed in India

C) A festival celebrated in Kerala

D) A famous wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu

Answer: B


Pulikulam refers to a traditional breed of cattle found in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. This breed has gained attention in the news due to its unique characteristics and cultural significance.