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Startups throw their weight behind Jallikattu

They are exhorting employees to also make common cause with a movement, which has run afoul with animal rights activists, but is regarded as an intrinsic part of the Tamil culture.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jan 21, 2017, 11.24 AM IST
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For startups, the idea of lending voice to the cause of conducting the sport had occurred even earlier as part of an event titled Startup Pongal that was held on January 12.
For startups, the idea of lending voice to the cause of conducting the sport had occurred even earlier as part of an event titled Startup Pongal that was held on January 12.

CHENNAI: Startup founders are throwing in their lot with protest movements across Tamil Nadu demanding that Jallikattu, the bull-taming sport, be performed across the state.

They are exhorting employees to also make common cause with a movement, which has run afoul of animal rights activists, but is regarded as an intrinsic part of the Tamil culture.

Jallikattu protests have been swelling across the city's Marina beach as the state's youth activists, software engineers, farmers and politicians of all hues band together to demand that the traditional sport be performed.

"We believe that Jallikattu is an integral part of our culture," said Girish Mathrubootham, cofounder of Freshdesk, who said that the "protests are important."

Mathrubootham's commitment to the city has a storied past - he had briefly considered moving to Bengaluru for want of talent but had later decided that he could build his products from Chennai. An ardent Rajinikanth fan, Mathrubootham's office space also doubles up as an exhibit of the superstar's celluloid journey with themed artwork adorning almost every wall. "A Murattu Kaalai theme is not off the mark," he said, referring to the actor's 1980-film. Asked if he will consider making changes to his office décor in view of the current Jallikattu protest, he said some 'new themes' were being considered.

"One of them is that of 2.0 (Rajinikanth's sci-fi thriller). Maybe, we will consider a kaalai (bull) theme, too," he said. Other startup entrepreneurs too have been quick to demonstrate their support. "We are more than neutral. We are pro-jallikattu," said Suresh Sambandam, the chief executive officer of workflow automation software provider Kissflow. "We have staged many agitations in front of the Tidel Park. The startup warehouse in the building had a few other firms that have pledged support too," he said, adding that the movement is finding widespread support across the startup sector.

For startups, the idea of lending voice to the cause of conducting the sport had occurred even earlier as part of an event titled Startup Pongal that was held on January 12.

The event had the startup community dressed in traditional attire observing cultural festivities. One of the organisers told, “We had even deliberated if we should collectively express support during that event, but thought against it as we came to know that viewpoints differed and it would not be right to generalise opinion on the sport.“

The open acknowledgment of support from startups for Jallikattu coincides with sweeping solidarity from across various quarters in the state. Restaurants, even small eateries, downed shutters in the state. The Chennai city transport buses plied on reduced capacity as nearly 10 trade unions, including the Centre of Indian trade Unions, pledged support to the movement. Bank employees with the All India Bank Employees Union protested at a different location after the Marina got choked with vehicular traffic on Friday afternoon.

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