A man or woman’s free time, when there is nothing specific to do and no duty to perform may be described as his or her leisure. It is generally agreed that leisure enables a person to do what one likes—sleeping, walking about, going for an adventure and being wholly oneself for some time. Without some leisure life would become a heavy burden and I totally unbearable. It would not be wrong to say that there would be {hardly any art, literature, crafts, poetry or philosophy if there is no leisure, [for all these are the products of spare time when there is no restriction or limitation. Diversity in various areas of activity also depends on leisure; the more the leisure the greater the diversity, and the more the colour in the country’s life and living.

But it is possible to judge the culture, education and mental development of a person by the way he spends his leisure. Those who merely waste time twiddling their thumbs or remaining idle, or sleeping for long hours even after a good night’s rest, or spend their spare time quarrelling with members of their family or just loaf about cannot be called a cultured or mentally developed people. When we are much too busy with our daily chores, either in office, factory or at home, to read f the books we like or indulge in other constructive and gainful activity, or attend to the duties remaining after the previous day’s or week’s busy schedule, we show a lack of the true sense of citizenship and unawareness of ho w leisure should be utilized.

Obviously, leisure should be treated as opportunity for fruitful activity fend creativeness. It is through creativity, the feeling that we have achieved something in a healthy sphere of human activity that we can promote our and our family’s well being. Time is undoubtedly the most precious thing on earth; it can never be called back; one hour or a day wasted is gone forever, never to return. The hours and the minutes tickle past us constantly, and it is said that time and tied wait for no one. This realization should make us all fully conscious of the value of time and of leisure, for leisure is, after all, time that we spend according to our choice. And our culture and capacity our education and our sense of good citizenship are all reflected in the use we make of leisure.

There are people who are so material minded, and so anxious to earn and save money, that they believe leisure should be utilized for supplementing one’s earnings so as to make up for the deficit in the family budget caused by inadequate incomes and ever-mounting expenditure and prices. But that would mean taking a narrow and worldly view of leisure. Repetitive tasks certainly lead to boredom, and the frantic continuation of the money-earning process, by working overtime or taking up some other boring work during the leisure hours, merely adds to the burdens of life. In such cases there would be no difference between regular working days and one’s holidays during which we should have some change in our occupation and enrich our minds in one way or the other.

Of course, too much leisure means mere idleness and is hardly helpful in one’s life. Leisure and rest are appreciated only when there is enough work during the rest of the week or the month. Excess or surfeit of leisure is, therefore, inadvisable; there must be a sense of proportion, that is, a period of sustained work, followed by a break or rest or change, to refresh the mind and the body. Strain during days or hours of leisure defeats the very purpose of providing leisure and giving holidays.

Typical examples of people merely wasting their leisure are provided by the country’s youth who have many weeks of vacation every year from the colleges and universities but do little constructive work either for their own mental and intellectual enrichment or for the social good. Efforts have been made at many centres of education to persuade the students to take to useful activity, according to their taste or preference, during the long summer vacations, but very limited success has been achieved in this area. Our youth prefer to waste time in gossip, scandalous talk, personal, defamatory or libellous conversation, outright censure and condemnation of everyone else, not excluding their own teachers, principals, and sometimes their parents. That, surely, is gross abuse of precious leisure.

All the talk of “enjoying” one’s holidays contains many wrong notions, about leisure. One can “enjoy” leisure even while doing some other useful work, such as social service, helping the weak, the handicapped elders and the hapless, educating the illiterate. In our country the vast majority urgently needs instruction and enlightenment from those who are better placed in life and has had the benefit of education. And yet it is the height of callousness and a distinct failure of one’s duty as a wide awake citizen if we are selfish and ignore our social responsibility because there is no punishment of any kind yet devised by even the most powerful administrator or dictator for those who “kill” time and waste their leisure. But this does not mean that we should become irresponsible and wasteful or that we would behave and conduct ourselves better only under the fear of some punishment.

A person’s mental, moral and intellectual development can be judged by this yardstick. Does he know how to make the best possible use of leisure? Of course there is no uniformity in this area’ people can, and do, use their leisure hours differently depending upon their circumstances. But while a good intelligent citizen uses his leisure gainfully, a bad, careless and irresponsible citizen merely wastes his time when there is leisure. Example has been known in history of people who have utilized their leisure to overcome their crippling weakness and handicaps. The story goes that in ancient Greece, Demosthenes, who was a stammered and was conscious of his handicap even though he wanted to become a great orator, overcame his handicap during his spare time by putting pebbles in his mouth, shouting and speaking hour after hour against the noise of the sea waves. After sometime he discovered that, as a result of the prolonged practice he could speak clearly, fairly well and without stammering. Leisure thus, can be used to overcome deficiencies, and add an extra dimension to our character and capacities. It all depends on how we spend it.