The Youth Festival in Pune brought many together.

Providing a forum to the young talent of the country, the 12th National Youth Festival was organised in Pune, the cultural centre of Maharashtra recently. Organised every year on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the Swami Vivekanand, the five-day festival is held under the aegis of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan and the host state.Since its inception in 1995 when the first National Youth Festival was organised in Bhopal, the mega event signifies unity in diversity, promoting the artistic instincts in youth. The objective is to unravel the hidden talents, providing a platform for cultural shows and also to provide them an opportunity for intellectual and academic exposition. The stage gives youth a chance to prove their mettle and spread the message of brotherhood and peace and inculcate among them the spirit of adventure and national integration. Every year the festival is organised with a new theme and this year the theme was "Youth for Peace, Progress and Prosperity".

Mini India

Sports Complex, Balewadi, Pune, the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies, looked like a mini India presenting the varied culture of India through the colourful costumes of the participants. Talking about the special features of this year's festival, Shakeel Ahmad Khan, Director General of Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, Delhi said, "Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan has set a new meaning to all the competitive and non-competitive events in which more than 3000 amateur young artists from different states and union territories participated. Yuva Kriti, a handicrafts and social development exhibition where so many innovative ideas on developmental issues were discussed was one of the highlights. The exhibition is carrying two components education and information on non-commercial basis."An exhibition on development and empowerment of adolescent was another information-filled event for the youth where opportunities were suggested to the adolescents through counselling and exhibition of informative material.`Youth Convention' and symposia on good thoughts, `Suvichar' were the other attractions of the festival where youngsters received precious views and experiences of various personalities who visited during the festival including the darling of youngsters Dr. APJ Abul Kalam.Adding to the seriousness of the festival were folk dances and music of all states and union territories. While some art forms like Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Kuchipudi have received patronage there are several other traditional art forms, which need popular support. These youth festivals have taken up the task of bringing forth such music and dance art forms to the youth.IQBAL AKHTAR