Winning is not everything and participating itself is a big achievement, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told young artistes competing in the State School Arts Festival that began here on Sunday.

Inaugurating the 54th edition of the festival through videoconferencing, he reminded the artistes that they had come to this stage as winners from among 50-lakh students in the State. The Chief Minister said the State government wanted to promote healthy competition in the festival and promote up-and-coming artistes.

“Some of our prominent artistes had been winners at the arts festival. But many of them had to leave the field of art for various reasons. So the government wants to help those who choose to stay,” he said.

He assured the participants that their performance in the competitions would be judged in a just and foolproof manner.

Dwelling on the slogan of the festival, “Protect the rights of children,” Mr. Chandy said the government wanted to use the festival to highlight the issues of child rights and prevention of atrocities on them.

“Though I very much wanted to be in Palakkad to inaugurate this biggest festival of youth in Asia, my forced confinement ordered by doctors because of my illness prevented me from doing so,” he said.

In his presidential address, Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb said an updated festival manual, intending to make it more professional, would be released before its next edition.

He said 14 items had been added to the festival this time, taking the tally to 246. Another demand was to allow students in the Central Board of Secondary Education stream to participate. A decision on it would be taken after detailed deliberations.

Balachandra Menon, actor, was the chief guest.

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