The University of Mysore is abuzz with an array of events, thanks to the centenary year celebrations that has brought the varsity global fame. At the time when the university was still basking in the glory of the prestigious Indian Science Congress that saw a plethora of scientists delivering lectures on various topics came the five-day Yuva Shatha Sambhrama-2016, as if to add wings to the existing glory.
To see exceptional talent from more than 70 universities from across the country exhibiting scintillating performances was nothing short of magical. The overwhelming response from the audience was living testimony to the fact that the fest, held for the first time at the varsity campus, was a grand success.
Well, it was made possible by the tireless efforts from the cultural coordinator Dr M Rudraiah who is the Director of Department of Students Welfare. He says that equal efforts were made by his team to ensure the smooth flow of the event.
Dr Rudraiah spoke with City Today about his overall experience as a cultural coordinator, importance of cultural fests at the university-level and its benefits, and the democratic space the universities offer.
Excerpts from the interview.
How would you like to describe the Yuva Shatha Sambhrama-2016 that concluded recently?
To begin with, it was a grand success with more than 1,200 students from 70 plus universities from across the country participating in it. The youth festival conducted in five categories – music, dance, literary, theatre and fine arts – saw a pool of talent in each category competing to emerge the best among all. We have also got response from various universities lauding the event.
How important do you think are cultural festivals at university levels?
Just like studies, extracurricular activities play a vital role in any student’s life and help in his or her inclusive growth. Extracurricular activities not only increase the opportunities for social interaction and new relationship development but also gives them a chance to know about people of different passion and cultures. Speaking of cultural activities, it has immense scope in a student’s life. Festivals of this kind have been instrumental in shaping student’s talent by providing them with a platform to expose their talent. The UoM has been conducting such festivals since decades and a few renowned artistes including Nithin Rajaram Shastry, Vilas Nayak, Raghu Dixit are the products of UoM.
Besides this, students who excel in cultural activities can avail post-graduation seats at the universities in the cultural quota under which up to 15 percent seats will be reserved for them.
Do you think there is less prominence given to cultural activities in south India compared to other parts of the country?
I agree. A lot of prominence is given to cultural activities at the universities in north and east India. They have specialised courses and departments encouraging students who want to take up cultural activities. Moreover, students I have seen are keen to represent their culture and thus the number of participants will be more.
Akin to unravelling talent among students through youth festivals, don’t you think providing e a vibrant democratic space where students debate and ideate issues of greater relevance be it political, social and economic like the one in JNU and other varsities in northern parts of India important?
Yes it is vital. However, it is not possible to expect the same kind of environment in the campuses in Mysuru or other varsities in the state, as the struggles and situation in northern India is more intense owing to its proximity to the national capital. The politics in New Delhi has longstanding reverberations in the campuses around and vice versa.
But, it cannot be stated that UoM or other universities in the south lack relevance. Just that the struggles are not as intense as in universities in north India.
Do you think police and political interference in universities justified? Is it not a violation of the very independent existence of varsities as centres of higher learning, as spaces of ideation?
I do not approve of violation of the sanctity of universities. The final say should lie with the universities and the committee that deals with the welfare of the students. However, I feel that students just as they are conscious of expressing their views vociferously should also be able to exercise restraint. Moderation in expression is what I stress.