While the Union HRD Ministry failed to intimate the state govt about submitting the applications, the state Youth Welfare Board didn’t even enquire about the reasons.

Who is to blame Kerala misses out on this years National Youth FestivalPic: State Keralotsavam/Youth Welfare Board Website
news Controversy Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 21:01

For the first time in the history of National Youth Festival (National Yuva Uthsav), Kerala will not be represented at the annual event, with even a single participant not there.

While the Union Human Resource Development Ministry which is organizing the event, did not intimate the state for submitting application to participate in the event, the state Youth Welfare Board which is responsible for coordinating and sending participants from the state, hasn’t even asked the Centre about this, neither registered its protest in any form.

This year, the week-long event which started way back in 1995, kicked off on January 12. Winners of Keralotsavam - annual sports and arts festival coordinated by the State Youth Welfare Board at the state level, are selected for the National Yuva Uthsav. Keralothsavam is conducted every year at the revenue, district and state level for the youth, in consultation with the local self-bodies.

Begun in the late 80s, the annual state-level event has lost importance over the years and has turned into a tepid affair.

“Still, Keralotsavam is a platform for the talents of the hinterland who otherwise have no opportunity to showcase them, since they won’t be able to participate at college and university level events. National Youth Fest is the national venue they get to come up,” said Shylaja J, a theatre activist of the state, speaking to TNM.

Shylaja, who is one of the founders of Natak - a theatre group based in the state, said that keeping Kerala out of the event is seen as a political move of the union government, to suppress artists and artistic freedom. Moreover, Kerala has always been at the forefront opposing such curbs on freedom of expression.  “Equally sad is the fact that the State Youth Welfare Board which is responsible for ensuring the participation of the state, hasn’t protested against the move even by writing a letter,” she said.

The dates for the annual event are pre-fixed and ever year it happens in January. Teams from Kerala won prizes even for Hindi dramas they presented, which was a huge boost. When Natak enquired from the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development about not incorporating Kerala in this year’s event, they were told that Kerala hasn’t sent the list of participants. When they contacted State Youth Welfare Board Vice Chairman, he said that the ministry hasn’t given any intimation and that since the event is conducted by the ministry, the state won’t be able to send the list of participants without their intimation. 

State Youth Welfare Board Vice Chairman P Biju said, “This year, the whole pattern of the Yuva Uthsav has been changed. The Union Ministry has excluded most of the items from the event and reduced it to symposiums and yoga. The state Keralotsavam concluded on December 24. In the following days, we used to check the Union Ministry’s website, but nothing was there, no link to apply for the event. Even now, the application link is not available on their website. Usually, the ministry would write to the government and the government would intimate us. This year, since we haven’t got any information, we wrote to the state youth affairs secretary and he in turn wrote to the Union Secretary. But we didn’t get any response. Only in two to three states like Kerala is the State Youth Welfare Board coordinating with the applicants and only in a few states is an event like Keralotsavam conducted. In other states, the coordination is being done directly between the union and state governments.” 
The venue, he said, has also changed to Uttar Pradesh, though previously Rajasthan was announced as the venue. “I don’t know if any other state is also excluded,” he added.