If you have two pennies left; with one buy a bread, with the other a flower; the bread will give you life, the flower a reason for living.”

It was the Chinese, not Dr Keskar, who gave the world that priceless bit of two-penny wisdom.  But in more pedestruian phrases, the Information Minister subscribed to the same idea during a Bombay speech last week. “If life is worth living,” he said, “it is because of the joy and pleasure one derives from aesthetic sense, from music, art and drama.” And so, as we all want life to be worth living, Dr Keskar wants the people of India to derive joy and pleasure , from as many radios as will not switch Ceylon on…….

To impart joy and pleasure through fine arts, we believe Dr Keskar and his Goverrnment should focus attention  rather on society in general than particularly on the young. A thing of beauty can be a joy for ever only if a minimum cultural level is menaintained in the general life of the country, not manufactured in a class room. What the Minister is now attempting is to water the foliage while the roots feed on sand.Fine arts are not subjects which can be planted into any mind. They are, more than anything else, a matter of aptitutde and environment. Those who have the aptitude go out and find opportunities to perfect it. A government which is inclined to make life worth living should aim at increasing the facilities to develoop the aesthetic aptitudes of its people at lage. If music, art  and drama become part of the average man’s daily life, India’s educational authorities will not have to be bothered to achieve the goal Dr Keskar has in mind.

The Chinese proverb enjoining us to invest the last penny in a flower presupposes, naturally, the availability of flowers.  To ask one to buy a flower when there is no flower in the neighbourhood is as futile as to give advice on how to use the last two pennies when there is no penny in one’s pocket. Nor is the avoidance of this futility a school teacher’s problem.

(EDIT, January 15, 1956.)

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