The Kerala education department has rightly said that no more than two students from a district can participate in each of the items in the state-level school arts festival. We had such limitations earlier but dissatisfied students kept on finding a way to the festivals by appealing against the verdicts. This time, we hope that tendency would change because the order has been issued by the Kerala High Court.
The consideration of appeals against the verdicts in an arts contest is not proper in the first place. The verdict would rely on a lot of factors because the subject is an art form. The jury member’s aptitude is one of these. If a participant in a dance competition choose a style the jury member is not very interested in, that will reflect in the verdict. You can’t call it an irregularity.
At the same time, we have a lot of complaints about deliberate irregularities, right from the level of the sub district. Many students and their parents think that they could reach up to the state level if they are willing to pay money as and when needed. The unhealthy competition among districts is another factor that increases the number of appeals.
We have to peruse the issue whether it is up to the judiciary to decide if a jury’s verdict is proper or not. A committee on the line of the higher appeals committee in the state arts fest would be more suitable to look into the appeals. I have never understood the propriety of the participants going to a court to enter the competition. After all, this is not a matter of life and death.
We have many artistes to cite who had been ignored in the sub district, district and state levels of arts festivals. Many who have shined in the arts festival venues have made quiet exits from the arts scene. Many of the present-day gurus had competed as students in an age where no appeals were allowed.
The times have changed. We live in a more competitive society. We may not be able to completely do away with appeals. But the organizers should take the necessary arrangements to limit the number of appeals. They have to ensure that only quality participants make it to the next level right from the sub district level. The judges have to be qualified to pick winners fright from the sub district level. This is the time to start.