The Telegraph
Monday , January 6 , 2014
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Tiff over youth fest team

- Controversy mars selection of delegates

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 5: Confusion over selection of delegates to represent the state at the National Youth Festival in Ludhiana led to a tiff between the sports and youth affairs and the higher education departments.

While both departments were ready to send their respective teams of over 90 youngsters, the confusion was resolved only after the Union ministry of youth affairs intervened.

Swami Vivekananda’s birthday on January 12 is celebrated as the National Youth Festival, where young artistes showcase their talents every year. Usually, the national festival delegates for the competitive and non-competitive categories in art forms such as music, dance and drama are selected through a state-level event hosted after selections at the district level.

This year the state-level fest was hosted from December 22 to 24 in Bhubaneswar and organised by the sports and youth services department. About 100 candidates were chosen from the festival for the nationals.

Since the event involves selection of candidates from colleges, secretaries of both sports and youth services and higher education are involved in the communication from the Union ministry. But this year, the letter from the ministry of youth affairs was by mistake sent only to Gagan Dhal, secretary of the higher education department.

Despite having an idea of the process of participation, the department officials randomly prepared a team of 100 youngsters in consultation with the Utkal University of Culture. Most of the youngsters were National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers.

“We were confused because the NSS takes part in a separate category at the National Youth Festival where 10 to 12 of our young members are sent to the fest through the higher education department. Besides, the government of India guidelines states that the 90-odd young artistes for competitive and non-competitive categories are chosen through state-level competitions,” said regional NSS head Sarita Patel.

“When we contacted the youth affairs officials about the delegates they had chosen, they said that they were yet to receive a notification or letter from the ministry. Hence, they did not arrange for sending the team,” she said.

An official at the youth affairs department said this had irked secretary Saswat Mishra, and after a confrontation between the two departments, the issue was resolved when a letter from the ministry of youth affairs was again sent to the state youth affairs department about sending delegates from Odisha.

“We have been sending the candidates every year, and we already have a team chosen from the state-level festival. They will be representing the state at the National Youth Festival,” said director of the state sports and youth affairs D.V. Swamy.

On December 28, liaison officer of the higher education department U.N. Sahu sent a letter to the vice-chancellor of the Utkal University of Culture to postpone the participation of the volunteers’ team for the competitive and non-competitive categories.