Strict actions a deterrent this time’
Corruption — by judges, dance teachers, government employees and middlemen — has been the biggest bane of the State School Arts Festival for decades. Though there have been announcements, and some attempts, in the past, it has been the same sad story year after year. But things are changing.
For the first time, the efforts by the government and the Directorate of Public Instruction seem to have made considerable headway in tackling corruption. The investigation by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau against a dance teacher and a couple of judges at the last edition of the festival and the detention of two men here in connection with the fake appeal cases raise a promise of a cleaner festival in the future.
The hard stand taken by the Education Minister and the Director of Public Instruction (DPI) as well as the strong fight for justice by some parents, like Prasanna Madhu, whose daughter Uthara was a victim of unfair judgement last year, have acted as a deterrent this festival.
Encouraging results: Mohan Kumar
DPI K.V. Mohan Kumar is delighted that the war against corruption at the festival has begun producing encouraging results. “The middlemen have disappeared from the scene, because they are, for the first time, scared that they could be caught, some judges decided to opt out of the panel and we have initiated action against two judges who lied that they hadn’t judged at the lower levels of the festival,” he told The Hindu here on Wednesday. “We will also look into those judges about whose integrity doubts have been raised.”
Mr. Mohan Kumar said that the expose of the fake appeal racket was a shot in the arm. “Our law officer suspected that some of the appeals, with verdicts from the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, were forged,” he said.
“We found 10 such cases this year but it is possible that this could have been done in previous festivals as well. We will investigate those appeals too. We are happy that our fight against corruption is paying off.”
He said such malpractices would never be tolerated. “A deserving student should not suffer because of a corrupt judge,” he said. “We have tried to get best judges possible. We had appointed the judges through the heads of cultural institutions, including Kerala Kalamandalam.”
He added that the Vigilance investigation into the dance teacher and the two judges for Kuchipudi last year itself had put many shady characters on the back foot. “I understand that the case against them is strong,” he said. “We are confident that we could make the festival free of corruption.”