Kerala’s popular State Schools Youth Festival, which draws over 9,000 students to various cultural competitions, has now come under a cloud after allegations of the weeklong event being rigged came to light following an expose by a television channel.
According to the expose by the regional Manorama news channel, those who pay money to middlemen get high grades and are selected to participate in the ongoing youth festival here. Competitions are held in a host of fields including dance, music and literary events.
The channel played the audio of a conversation between a parent and an alleged middleman where the latter is heard demanding money for a child’s selection.
The channel reported current going rates for getting an A grade and high marks at the district level youth festival ranges from Rs.20,000 to Rs.50,000. A candidate or a team that gets an A grade with high scores is automatically selected to the State Schools Youth Festival.
The modus operandi, according to the channel, is that middlemen collect the money and pass it on to the judges of the events. These judges are drawn from across the state and are experts in various arts and cultural fields.
The 50th edition of the annual weeklong youth festival began here Saturday. Over 9,000 students studying in Class 8 to Class 12 take part in 216 events.
Reacting to the expose, A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish, director of public instruction, said that an inquiry team has been constituted and will submit its report in the next few days.
“If the inquiry finds anyone guilty, then it would be the end of his judging career and he or she would be blacklisted. We are also planning to hand over the case to the Crime Branch,” Hanish told reporters here Monday.
The festival has over the years catapulted many talented youths to stardom. Leading performers who have gone on to carve a niche in the Malayalam film industry include Manju Warrier, Kavya Madhavan, Vineet, AmbiliDevi and Navya Nair.
–Indo-Asian News Service