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National Chutney Foundation plans to reach out to Sat

Melissa Doughty Monday, July 17 2017

The National Chutney Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago has big plans for its 2018 School’s National Carnival Intellectual Chutney Soca Monarch competition and that includes reaching out to secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Sat Maharaj and getting greater funding for next year.

The foundation’s founder and developer, Dr Vijay Ramlal-Rai, told Newsday he plans to reach out to Maharaj as early as this week to discuss the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha’s (SDMS) Hindu-based schools be a part of next year’s competition.

Earlier this year, during the Carnival period, Education Minister Anthony Garcia questioned the non-participation SDMS schools in the competition.

To which, Maharaj was quoted as saying, that the participation of the school’s students in such events was a parental choice. He also questioned why Garcia seemed to single out Hindu schools.

The competition’s prize-giving ceremony was held last week at the National Carnival Commission’s (NCC) VIP Lounge, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of- Spain.

Ramlal-Rai said the competition, which has been running for the last six years, seeks to “correct the ills of the senior competition.” He added that many of what he dubbed the senior songs spoke to alcohol and the objectification of women.

The programme, which includes in its title the word intellectual, aims at teaching the students that a wide variety of topics are available for them to sing on.

Ramlal-Rai said that the students was the future of the chutney genre in TT. In a phone interview with Newsday, Maharaj said the Maha Sabha would listen but offered no promises.

He said, “I will listen. I am not promising one way or another.

We will listen to what their proposal is. If we are satisfied that it would bring a plus...The performances at the national level does not suit our purposes but we are prepared to listen to their proposal.” Although there were budgetary constraints in this year’s prize-giving ceremony, Ramlal- Rai said he hoped next year the completion could receive more as part of a greater incentive to the children. The competition received $30,000 in prize-money from the education ministry.

The competition, he said, has given rise to local talent such as Aaron Duncan and more notably, Anthony Batson, whose love of traditional Hindi songs has been well-documented.

Ramlal-Rai said, while he praised the ministry for its contribution, that while this was the competition’s best year in terms of content, it was its worst in terms of funding due to the global recession.

Although the students would normally receive certificates and trophies.

This year, the foundation could only provide trophies to the first place winners. This year’s winners were Jason Justin James in the primary school category and Christina Chattergoon in the secondary schools category.

The foundation plans to meet with the ministry and other stakeholders from as early as next week to begin its planning of next year’s competition.



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