I have not read that book, but he must have been a really great man who wrote ‘Culture and Anarchy’. During my days at school, whenever an over-solicitous teacher tried to persuade us to read the afore-mentioned book, I have always wondered what exact relation there could be between culture on the one hand and anarchy on the other…

But now I know. What is culture if it is not a product of anarchy? Or, more correctly, what is anarchy if it is not an offshoot of culture? You don’t agree? You only have to see or hear the atrocities inflicted on the present generation of Indians in the name of culture…

Just one instance, the latest of them all: Dr Balakrishna Vishwanath Keskar, the Union minister for information and broadcasting, wants another compulsory subject added to the long list of compulsory subjects being (sought to be) taught to the tiny tots in primary schools. The doctor would have our children forced to sing – we believe, classical songs – in infant classes. The suggestion is palmed off in the name of culture, original Indian culture…

Now, I have no objection to culture as such, even Bharateeyan culture and (practical difficulties notwithstanding), I will not violently object to even a hundred little ones in a crowded class violently singing away in true cultural fashion – let the already harassed teacher face THAT problem. But look at it from the parents’ point of view….

A colleague of mine, who is father of a child going to infant school, was complaining the other day that he was terribly overworked of late. And the reason? It appears he has to do a good deal of homework. To my unbelieving cross-questions, he patiently replied that it was not his office work that he did at home, it was his little daughter’s ‘education’.

Now a word of caution: man is so made that he usually dislikes anything that is forced on him – whether it is prohibition, Hindi or music. You can’t force people to sing. Just as you cannot have culture, by order.

(From An Easy Chair, November 7, 1957)

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