LEISURE AND RECREATION E. ASIRVATHAM Since the tone of any society...
LEISURE AND RECREATION
E. ASIRVATHAM
Since the tone of any society depends largely on the quality of its leisure, the author
points out in this article the importance of leisure and the evils of its improper use; he makes
a plea for planned leisure-time and recreational activities which, he maintains, should be so
planned as to contribute to the complete development of every part of man's complex nature.
Dr. Asirvatham, who is the author of several books, is Reader in Politics and Public
Administration in the University of Madras.
discussion of a new social order can leave out of account the problem
of leisure. Leisure has been defined as " the time at the disposal of the
complete m a n . " It is " o p p o r t u n i t y for disinterested activity." Dean
Inge rightly says : " T h e soul is dyed the colour of its leisure t h o u g h t s . "
Leisure is necessary not only for the realisation of individual personality, but
also for the culture and civilisation of every society. C. D. Burns aptly de-
scribes leisure as the "seed-plot of civilisation." An ancient proverb says :
"Wisdom cometh by opportunity of l e i s u r e . " It is " t h e germinating time
for art and p h i l o s o p h y " and affords opportunity for the appreciation of the
finer things of life. Ancient China realised the importance of giving its scho-
lars ample leisure which they utilised in working out an abiding philosophy
of life. In the highly industrialised countries of the West to-day, where
money-making and comfortable living are a craze, there is a high degree of
civilisation, as the term is interpreted by themselves, but a low level of cul-
ture, partly because they have not yet learnt the right use of leisure.
In the modern industrial society, it is usual to distinguish between work
and leisure. The term 'work' is used to cover any activity in which a man is
engaged in order to make a living, whereas the term ' leisure ' is used to
describe what he does with himself at other times. In earlier societies, how-
ever, such a distinction was not observed. Even to-day in a non-industrial
and non-mechanised society, work and leisure often go together. Where, as
it sometimes happens in India, the whole family is engaged in all the processes
of a piece of work such as the carding of cotton, spinning it, and weaving it
into cloth, it is difficult to say where work ends and leisure begins. The same
merging of leisure into work is true in the case of every true artist. ' Art
for a r t ' s sake' is the ideal for which he lives and works.
But in the case of a large mass of industrial workers and even agricultur-
ists who use machinery on a large scale, the distinction between ' work ' and
'leisure' is a vital one and cannot be slurred over. Even in this sphere, it is

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possible to find individuals who are fortunate in having struck upon types of
work which give them the fullest possible opportunity for the expression of
their personalities. But the vast bulk of industrial workers are obliged to do a
fraction of some dull and monotonous piece of work, such as the making
of the head of a pin, times without number. One of the serious criticisms
of the industrial system of to-day is the deadening, devitalising, and de-
humanising effect which it has upon the millions who are called upon to do a
small fraction of a mechanical piece of work, which is unrelated to their life
and its purposes and which they are obliged to do merely for the sake of a
living. They have no chance of seeing the work completed by their own hands
or of making it for their own use or profit. It is manufactured on a mammoth
scale with the aid of large scale machinery, primarily for the cash returns
of a body of unseen and unknown shareholders of a company. It is true that
a great many of these people have become so mechanised that the idea of ex-
pressing themselves through the various processes of work has deserted them
altogether. But it is possible to reverse this order by a different type of indus-
trial organisation and give workers real joy and meaning in work. Till such
time is reached, we must plan for the leisure of large masses of people. In
undertaking this task it is necessary to remember that leisure does not mean
idleness. It is the use of one's free time in such a manner as to contribute to
his true well-being and happiness. By the extensive use of machinery and the
harnessing of mechanical power, the industrial West has made ample spare
time possible for its toiling masses. But as yet people have not learnt its
proper use.
Leisure and recreation do not mean one and the same thing. For our
purpose we may regard 'leisure' as the genus of which 'recreation' is a spe-
cies. There are many other ways of utilising leisure besides engaging oneself
in recreation, although in popular conversation the two terms tend to be used
interchangeably. The primary purpose of recreation is to " r e - c r e a t e " oneself
in body, mind, and spirit ; and it is with this object in view that we should
judge the use to which a person puts his leisure. If recreation is used by one
in getting dead drunk or in dancing till very late at night or in playing cards
till the small hours of the morning, it cannot be said that the person con-
cerned has "re-created" himself. If anything, he has made himself less fit for
the work of the day following the enjoyment. It is said, with a certain
amount of justification, that in some offices the day following every important
public holiday is also to be declared a holiday in order to enable their em-
ployers to get over the after effects of their undue enjoyment of the holiday.
It is a matter of common knowledge that the same kind of recreation
cannot do good to everybody. It depends on various conditions, such as the

LEISURE" AND RECREATION
27
person's temperament and upbringing, the nature of his work, and the envi-
ronment in which he lives, moves, and has his being. Thus, in the ease of a
manual labourer, bodily rest may in many eases be the best form of recreation,
while to a person who works with his mind all the time, bodily labour may
mean rest. "Change of occupation, and not merely cessation of occupation,
has a remarkable effect in restoring poise and tone." Our society should
make it possible, say for a philosopher to work in the garden every now and
then, while his own gardener sits under the tree and philosophises. It is a
welcome sign of the times that with a view to relieving industrial workers
of the monotonous nature of their work, attempts are being made to vary their
work by shifting them periodically from one branch to another.
If leisure is to be of maximum value to the maximum number of people,
it is necessary to classify people as well as their interests in life. In olden
times leisure was the privilege of the few. The aristocrat, freed from the
necessity of earning his living, very often spent his time in idleness or in
trivialities. Thomas Carlyle, who was a great apostle of work and glorified it,
claimed that a well-to-do member of the British aristocracy, with an income
of £200,000 a year, consumed the whole fruit of 6,666 men's labour and did
nothing for it, but to "kill partridges." "While this statement may be true
generally, in spite of the characteristic exaggeration of Carlyle's language, it
must be admitted that the English nobility in general has tried to put into
practice the principle of Noblesse Oblige. For generations now it has rendered
conspicuous service to the national and political life of the country and to its
education and culture, without indulging in conspicuous waste and luxury.
It has built up a tradition of service and has acted as the carrier of what is
good in the past.
When we turn from the English aristocracy to the Princely Order of
India, it must be confessed that a good many of that Order make a thoroughly
improper use of their leisure and of public money. The riotous living of some
of them in foreign lands and the maladministration which prevails in several
of their States make one wonder whether the time has not come for cutting
down their freedom and emoluments to the narrowest limits possible. It is
true that there are a few among them to whom the general well-being and
economic prosperity of their subjects is a matter of utmost concern, but such
Princes are few and far between. The leisure time of many of them is spent
in expensive and unnecessary continental tours and in travelling back and
forth to the various summer and winter capitals of India, basking in the sun-
shine of Governors and Viceroys. They spend lavishly on entertaining high
government officials and others of their own rank, while their own people
wallow in poverty. The sports in which some of them indulge, such as the

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E. ASIRVATHAM
killing of tigers and leopards which have been carefully preserved in their
jungles by a State department and are driven to the mouth of their guns to be
shot on specified occasions and at the appointed time, are wasteful. In order
that their Royal Highnesses may indulge in game hunting, polo, golf and the
like, a great deal of valuable land has to remain uncultivated.
What the Princes do on a large scale, the Zamindars and taluqdars do
within limits. Several of them are absentee landlords fleecing their tenants
to the utmost degree possible and contributing very little to their prosperity.
Instead of giving their time and attention to the scientific methods of cultiva-
tion, the improvement of cattle, and social uplift, they waste their substance
in litigation and extravagant living. They have not yet learnt the truth of the
principle of Noblesse Oblige.
When we pass from the Princes and the landed aristocracy to other
classes, we find that they too have an inadequate understanding of the meaning
of leisure. A great many of our successful merchants and traders live for
money and die for it. The fact that many of them march to an early grave on
account of over-work, unrelieved by the proper use of leisure, does not seem
to deter them from their suicidal course. Recently the Ceylon Government
had to pass a Shop Ordinance limiting the hours of work, particularly with a
view to checking the unfair competition offered by Indian merchants and shop-
keepers, who at the risk of their health, were keeping their places of business
open from early morning till late at night. The trouble with many of our
well-to-do business men is that they have not yet learned the art of enjoying
life in the best manner possible. Even such a gentle and harmless form of
recreation as daily walk is not to their liking. They prefer to go about in
their comfortable cars all the time, forgetting the primitive art of walking.
Some of them go to summer resorts and attend horse races, blindly imitating
those higher up in the social scale. They have no time for any hobby or for
such vigorous games as hockey, cricket, and tennis or for health-giving exer-
cises such as rowing and riding. Many of them are not even patrons of music,
painting, sculpture, poetry or literature. Their one and only God of worship
is Mammon.
Among the educated classes of India, especially of the younger genera-
tion, there is a greater appreciation of the importance of leisure. But in the
case of a good many, it is only a theoretical appreciation. The large band of
lawyers and politicians the country abounds in turn to politics as the elixir of
life. In a subject country like India it is perhaps inevitable. Till national
freedom is won, everything else seems to be of minor importance. But this
does not mean t h a t we should take life so seriously as to exclude from it all
forms of leisure and recreation. One chief trouble with a good many of our

LEISURE AND RECREATION
29
educated people is that they talk shop everywhere. They cannot be at ease
with themselves when they are off their work, unless they carry with them the
worries of their office or desk wherever they go. In recent years a large num-
ber of recreation clubs have been organised in towns and cities where educated
men, and sometimes women, can spend their afternoons and evenings, playing
tennis, billiards, cards, etc. and reading newspapers, magazines and light
literature.
These recreation clubs are for the most part patronised by government
officers, often of the " g a z e t t e d " rank, rising professional men such as doctors
and lawyers, and a few business men. Members of the Civil Service who
through the years have built up a myth of efficiency and paternal care for the
suffering poor also have a variety of opportunity for leisure and recreation.
Their office hours are short and they enjoy a large number of holidays and
leave of one kind or another on full pay, half pay, etc.
When we turn from people of this kind to the thousands of clerks and
others like them working in government and semi-government offices and
private firms and companies, the situation is indeed pitiable. They are over-
worked and under-paid, a good many of them contracting such diseases as
tuberculosis and dying a premature death. Although many of them are
University graduates and have a taste for art, literature, music, outdoor
games, and the like, the exacting nature of their work and the pittance they
are paid for it make anything like the enjoyment of leisure an idle dream.
No new social order for India can rest satisfied with the low position to which
the huge army of educated clerks and others like them are reduced. So long
as the present order of things continues, there cannot be a widespread enjoy-
ment of leisure.
Turning our attention now to the working classes in cities and the common
people in our villages, we find that the struggle for existence is so keen that
there is little or no time for recreation of any kind. When mill workers have
to walk some five to six miles a day even before sunrise after having cooked
their food for the day and attended to the children and return to their humble
abodes late in the evening after sunset and cook another meal we do not
expect them to bother about leisure or recreation. The same situation is true
as regards village women who walk ten to fifteen miles a day in order to sell
two to three annas worth of buttermilk, firewood or grass in the nearest town.
The grinding poverty of the masses is so intense that the question of leisure
becomes altogether irrelevant, if not a cruel joke.
Both industrial workers in cities at times of unemployment and agri-
cultural workers during the off season have periods of enforced leisure, but
they have not been trained to utilise it to the best advantage possible. Much

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of the time is spent in idle gossip, meaningless wandering here and there, and
ruinous litigation. It is not yet realised either by the public or those in
authority that if the spare time of these people could be properly organised
and utilised, it would immensely add to their enjoyment as well as to the pro-
ductivity and general well-being of the country. Just because a great many
of them find time hanging on their hands at a time of economic depression on
periodic unemployment, it does not mean that they are incapable of enjoying
leisure. Anyone who is acquainted with our villages knows of the important
part played by bhajanas, theatrical performances, indigenous outdoor games
and the like in the life of the villagers from time immemorial. With the de-
cline of rural life and the drawing away of the talents to the city and towns,
there has been also a marked decline in the capacity to utilise leisure. One
of the urgent needs of the hour is, therefore, to resuscitate the village life
and create a renewed interest in leisure-time activities. Leisure should be so
used as to illumine one's work.
Two important facts which emerge from what we have said above are that
leisure ought not to remain the monopoly of a special class or classes and that
it should be carefully planned and organised on a national scale. Early civili-
sations, such as the Egyptian, the Chinese, the Indian and the Greek, reached
a high stage of development by providing leisure to a few select classes and
compelling the masses to work for them. Such a state of affairs is not in con-
sonance with the democratic ideal of our day. We do not believe in a society
which reaches a high level of culture and civilisation by allowing a few people
to climb on the shoulders of the masses. Such a society is a "slave society"
and its foundations are weak. What we want to-day is an equitable distri-
bution of leisure so as to avoid the extremes of social parasitism on the one
hand and undue concern with one's own daily task for the sake of eking out a
livelihood on the other. Where the Greeks used slave-labour to provide lei-
sure for a select few, we may use machinery on a large scale to provide leisure
for all.
In the democratic society of our dream, everybody should have work
and everybody should enjoy leisure. There is no justification for the so-called
leisured class which does not have to depend on its own efforts for its living—
such classes as large landed proprietors, rentiers, holders of sinecures, and
hangers-on at courts and public offices. Work is worship. If there are
Princes and others who are not obliged to earn their daily bread by the sweat
of their brow, justice demands that they should spend themselves unstint-
ingly in the service of their people and patronise arts and sciences. According
to Theodore Roosevelt, "Those who work neither with their brains nor with
their hands are a menace to the public safety."

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31
If in an ideal social order there is no place for social parasites, neither
is there room for grinding poverty. So long as we have vast extremes of in-
come and inherited wealth, there is no scope for the enjoyment of leisure by
large sections of the population. A recent American writer observes that a
man who has to work fourteen hours a day or eight hours under a speed-up
system has really no leisure. What little free time and recreation he has are
just enough to enable him to return again to toil. His life is one round of
monotonous work, slaving for the benefit of unknown and unseen persons.
To relieve this situation, it is suggested by the advocates of Gandhian
economy that we should revive cottage industry on a vast scale so that every-
body will be engaged in doing the various processes of a unified piece of work
himself, for his own personal profit without exploiting anybody in the bar-
gain. These advocates claim that so far as India is concerned heavy indus-
tries such as railways, mines, the manufacture of motor cars and machinery
should be undertaken by the State on a service basis, while cottage industries
should be worked on a small scale, with a limited use of machinery, on a pro-
fit basis. The advantages claimed for this arrangement are that it will give
every individual zest in his work, abolish the artificial distinction between
work and leisure, and render unnecessary the exploitation of helpless people
and weaker nations.
There is undoubtedly much force in all these contentions. But they do
not completely solve the problem of leisure. Those engaged in government-
owned heavy industries would certainly require a large measure of leisure.
Even those working for their own profit under conditions of cottage industry
would require leisure. They may derive a great deal of joy from their work
and be able to find satisfaction for the creative impulse in them, such as arti-
sans. Notwithstanding all that, they would require opportunity to get away
from themselves and their daily worries and work. Not all work is capable of
being transformed into perfect art. Therefore, the planning of leisure in our
modern society is of utmost importance.
The proper starting point in training people for the enjoyment of lei-
sure is the home. The Catholics express a profound truth when they say
"Give us the child until he is seven and you may have him for the rest of his
l i f e . " It is during this period that habits, attitudes and dispositions are
formed which are likely to last all through life. Therefore, it is necessary
that during this early stage parents should train children to understand and
appreciate the uses of leisure. The kindergarten, the play method in peda-
gogy, and learning things by doing them—all have their value. Parents them-
selves must have the spirit of play in them and realise the profound truth that
play is not a waste of time. During this period parents can instil in children

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a love for hobbies, such as gardening, poultry-raising, bee-keeping, drawing,
painting, stamp-collecting, etc. Children may be encouraged to take long
walks enjoying the marvellous beauties of nature.
If the foundations are laid by the home and the school, the nation can
build on them. Schools should be encouraged by means of special grants and
other such means to instill in their children a keenness for " h i k i n g " or
rambling and travel by cycle, train and motor bus to places of historical
interest and natural beauty. Every school should have a neatly laid out garden
worked by the pupils themselves. There should be facilities for learning car-
pentry, blacksmithy, pottery, farming, paper-making, tailoring, typewriting,
printing, etc., depending upon the local circumstances. A child should be
encouraged to use his hands and fingers much more than is the case at pre-
sent. While at school every child should cultivate some simple and inexpen-
sive hobby, which he can keep up all through life and which can give him
immeasurable delight when he grows up and is weighted with the burdens of
the household and his work. Every school should have ample facilities for
athletics, and no child should be given his school leaving certificate unless he
has put in a minimum number of hours of attendance at games and sports of
various kinds. Movements such as the Boy-Scouts and Girl Guides should be
actively encouraged so long as they are free from sectarianism or suggestions
of imperialism, and do everything possible to teach boys and girls the art of
social living.
The Scout Movement has three a d v a n t a g e s . — (1) It brings the
children into close contact with nature ; (2) it provides companionship in
adventure and (3) it promotes social equality. The cinema should be widely
used by schools or groups of schools inasmuch as it is a quick and vivid way
of learning a great deal about the world. Travel films, films of wild life, films
depicting great stories in prose and poetry, and films exhibiting the historical
monuments and beauty spots of India can all be used to great advantage. The
radio also can come to the aid of the school in educating as well as entertaining
the pupil. Care should be taken to exclude propaganda of every description.
Uniforms, regulations, and marchings in groups have their value, but
they are apt to be overdone. They may destroy spontaneity in the play of
children. In organising the leisure of children utmost care should be taken
not to crush individuality and originality. While the West has made great
advances in the art of comfortable living, it has produced too many standardis-
ed men and women who conform to a type in matters of food, dress, taste,
general outlook and politics, and even love-making. Undue conformity and
conventionality are some of the worst features of life in the West. We want
our people to be normal and natural, to be themselves.

LEISURE AND RECREATION
33
When we turn from children to youth, we need to remember that youth
do not want to be treated like children. Young people to-day are much more
independent and assertive than the youth of the last generation. The forms
of recreation in which they are most interested are the cinema, commercialised
sports and athletics, and mass meetings of a political character. Also, with the
general removal of barriers between sexes, young men and women seek the
companionship of each other and like to spend their leisure hours together. The
older generation may shake its head in disapproval at this kind of innovation,
but it cannot stem the tide. The right thing is to place high ideals before youth,
especially when they are in their teens when hero-worship and lofty idealism
make a powerful appeal, and trust them to do the right thing. Indigen-
ous movements, such as the Bratachari movement, aiming at the building of
strong and healthy bodies in the service of the country should be encouraged.
So also should such organisations as the University Training Corps, if we are
convinced of the Tightness of war as a " cruel necessity " in defending one's
country against an aggressor.
Youth may be guided in selecting the right type of moving pictures and
those forms of recreation which will really " recreate " them. The guiding
principles should be entertainment as well as enlightenment. There should be
a network of national play-fields and parks throughout the country subsidised
by the State. Instead of contenting themselves with witnessing somebody
else play cricket, football, hockey, or tennis, every young man, particularly
in our schools and colleges, should be encouraged to play these games himself,
supplementing them by inexpensive indigenous games. It is unfortunate that,
in spite of Mahatma Gandhi's pleading, communal cricket is patronised in
India to-day. Sports should know no distinctions of caste, community or race.
Communal sports should receive no countenance whatever. There should be
musical and dramatic societies in every school and college, and in every village
and mohulla in the city. Those who have a taste for photography should be
encouraged to become amateur photographers and become members of photo-
graphic societies. Young people should be made to realise their responsibili-
ty towards the poor and unfortunate. Teachers and elders should inspire
them to take an active interest in some form or other of social service by their
own personal example.
There should be a network of libraries, reading rooms and research
centres all over the country open to everybody who can utilise them. The
admission fee to them should be next to nothing so that even the literate
labourer and enterprising peasant can find his way to them. In this respect
Soviet Russia has made great headway. For years now British Universities
have conducted evening extension courses mainly for the benefit of workmen

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E. ASIRVATHAM
in scientific and technical subjects, literature, art and civics. Such endeavour
might usefully be undertaken by Indian Universities too. But even before
that, adult education should be undertaken on such a large scale as to wipe
out illiteracy in the course of a generation. Agricultural Colleges, research
centres and radio stations are disseminating very useful knowledge to the
farmers and agriculturists, but such information should be more closely re-
lated to actual village conditions than is the case at present. We should build
on the common experience of the people of the village. There should be a
rural reconstruction officer in every village, organising the spare time activi-
ties of the villagers.
As said earlier, the common people in our villages, towns and cities
cannot be persuaded to make time for leisure and recreation till their bare
human needs are met. Some of the indirect methods of meeting these needs
are providing for free public education and public health, and an extensive
use of State-aided insurance against unemployment, old age, accidents, pre-
mature widowhood, etc. The social services provided out of public funds
should be so large and varied that one will be relieved of the necessity of
devoting every minute of his time and every ounce of his energy to provide
himself and those dependent on him the bare necessities of physical existence.
Common property in the form of public parks, libraries, recreation centres,
musical halls and the like should be so large and social services, such as free
education, free medicine and subsidised housing, should be so abundant that
there will be no need for more than a limited amount of private property. In
other words, our immediate goal should be " Common Property Large, Private
Property S m a l l . "
In order that common people may utilise their leisure hours properly,
we need both positive and negative measures. Government should compel
every factory and mill owner to provide ample recreation facilities for his
employees. The employees themselves through their recognised organisations,
such as the Trade Unions, should supplement the efforts made by the employers.
Non-sectarian and non-political organisations which aim at the improvement
of the conditions of the people, such as the Servants of India Society, might be
given every possible inducement to arrange a well-thought out programme of
sports, outdoor and indoor games, moving pictures, and simple talks on civic
rights and duties, on public health and sanitation, as well as musical, dramatic
and radio programmes.
As for the negative measures, both the State and public opinion should
co-operate in abolishing such evils as drunkenness, use of narcotics, gambling
and prostitution. Gambling is assuming serious proportions in India. The
instinct of getting something for nothing is deep-rooted in man, and gambling

LEISURE AND RECREATION
35
caters to that instinct. Even villagers gamble on cock fights and bull fights,
partly because they have no other excitement. In industrial centres, gambling
is becoming a serious menace and poor people lose vast sums of honestly-earned
money on it. A good many take to gambling in connection with horse racing,
which is an evil introduced into the country by the foreigner, and one of the
first duties of a national government would be to abolish horse-racing or at
least make it penal for people to bet on horses.
Prostitution is another social evil which needs to be tackled resolutely.
Nietzsche spoke truly when he said : "The mother of debauchery is not joy,
but joylessness." The experience of the Western countries is that with the
provision of a positive recreation programme, there has been a visible decline
in the amount of drunkenness and prostitution. The same is likely to be true
of India, too, if the recreation programme we have outlined above is put into
effect. At the same time, direct measures should be adopted in the era-
dication of prostitution and the traffic in women and children.
In planning for the leisure activities of people, we need to provide for
the two opposing moods of men—the desire for excitement and the desire for
quiet. Some people, especially certain classes of workers, require more ex-
citement than others. But every one should have opportunity for the exercise
of both excitement and quiet. Mere excitement is not good for man. It is
likely to make him a nervous wreck. All that it does is to provide an escape
mechanism for the time being. It should be supplemented by quiet, which is
indispensable to thought and reflection. Picture going, witnessing an excit-
ing football match, etc. may advantageously be supplemented by long hours
of quiet walk into the country or the outskirts of a city, away from the din
and noise of people. We must not lose sight of the fact that man is a creature
who " thinks before and after ". A man who does not take time to think and
reflect is no better than a brute. Even in married relations there should be
opportunity for each partner to be by himself or herself so that one can think
and reflect. The husband and wife should have many common as well as
some individual interests. C. D. Burns is right when he says : " A wife who
is only a wife is a bore, just as a husband who is only a husband is generally
a beast."
In promoting companionship and providing opportunities for the en-
joyment of one's spare time, we should plan on having a chain of cafes and
restaurants which will provide simple and wholesome food and drink in attrac-
tive surroundings and at a reasonable price. The present practice of only
men going to restaurants, leaving their families behind, should be discourag-
ed. On holidays and other such occasions the whole family may want to have
their meals together in one of these cafes or restaurants. Such eating places

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E. ASIRVATHAM
should undertake a diet revolution, utilising the services of nutrition experts.
The whole family can enjoy leisure together not only by having a few of their
meals in good cafes and restaurants but also by going out together on short
trips and for picnics. Week-ends could be spent together in quiet, out-of-
the-way places in tents or dak bungalows.
In spite of their aberrations, it is not desirable to put down commer-
cialised recreation altogether. What is needed is the proper supervision and
control of it by the State. In India one rejoices to find that much of our en-
tertainment and recreation is connected with religious festivals, frequently in
a beautiful natural setting on the banks of sacred rivers, on the sea beach or
on hill tops. While there is scope for abuses here as well, it is much less than
in places where people assemble merely for enjoyment, provided by commer-
cial agencies. People travel great distances, often by foot, through fields and
valleys, hills and mountains in order to take part in a religious festival. In
undertaking such a trip they not only satisfy their religious cravings but also
their aesthetic sense. It is regrettable that we have not yet utilised these
religious festivals to the fullest extent possible in the interest of recreation
and popular education.
Thanks to the life-long efforts of the late Dr. Rabindranath Tagore,
public taste in India has been raised to a high level. We are no longer
satisfied with a blind imitation of western art, music and dance. We have
come to realise that in drawing, painting, sculpture, music, dance and drama
we can hold our own with any other country in the world. What Tagore has
done for the re-orientation of education in an artistic setting, Uday Shanker
and his followers are doing for dance. The late Mr. G. S. Dutt has popularised
physical culture through the Bratachari movement. The movie industry in
India is becoming more dignified as a result of well-educated and respectable
young men and women adopting a film career. All this shows that the amateur
and semi-professional can do a great deal in developing public taste along
right lines.
In the planning of leisure, literary, cultural, and athletic societies as
well as village and caste organisations can play a vital part. Owing to our
lopsided education, several of our organisations and associations devote more
time to literary activities than to cultural activities or to the building up of
the body. We should so change our emphasis that every part of man's com-
plex nature will have facilities provided for its complete development. We
should remember that the tone of any society depends largely on the quality
of its leisure.