Karbi Youth Festival : An eye opener

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There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humour and hurt.

  • Erma Bombeck

 The politics of culture has many connotations in world history that has shaped the modern world. The most profound impact has been left by the Roman Empire that has made the 21st century still cannot do without it. The influence of culture and civilisation left by the Roman Empire on other parts of the world and later developments is impeccable as it has been successful. While a kingdom, tribe and empire can be conquered but they no longer apply now. The decisions taken by New Delhi affect all of us and decisions that are skewed are opposed by all. In such cases we have seen discrimination and hypocrisy. Assam with its tribes is discriminated against in terms of equal cultural representation at the state and at the national level. When it comes to culture in Assam the indigenous tribes are screened out from the purview of the world to give prominence to a small section of people in the state. To promote the state of Assam the indigenous tribes should be given adequate limelight on already existing platform on which they are absent.

Giving masked partial presentation about an area amounts to falsehood and discrimination against a section of its people. India is a sub-continent and New Delhi is not expected to know every nook and cranny of the nation. It is for Assam to let New Delhi know about the people in the state. The oldest ethnic festival of Assam, the Karbi Youth Festival is in its 45th year but few people know about it at the national level leave alone the tourist circuit of India at the international level. The Karbi Youth Festival should be integrated into a major festival of Assam by the state government. Every year Karbi Youth Festival has been held from February 15 to 19 without a break and it is a feat that is praise worthy and a case study in management as the organiser is an NGO — Karbi Cultural Society.

Karbi Cultural Society has branches all over the districts of Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong, Dima Hasao, Biswanath Chariali, Kamrup (Rural) and Kamrup (Metro) in Assam and Ri Bhoi district in Meghalaya. When India braces itself for terrorist attacks even for holding a small meeting in a village or hoisting the National Flag in a village school, in the Karbi Youth Festival there is no security provided by the authority nor sought by the Karbi Cultural Society. There is a volunteer group entirely to look after security. During the four day event the performing artists who are competitors, hundreds of volunteers, members of the organiser Karbi Cultural Society eat, sleep and work in the festival premises the venue of which is 800 bighas big. Every year the event saw the coordination of hundreds of people managing the logistics at the micro and macro level. The festival venue presently have three major natural topography amphitheatre and several minor stages. Events are held simultaneously on different stages and managing them are the volunteers. The very act of organising such an event year after year by an NGO is an act that will be very difficult to replicate if not impossible.

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