- Heredity, Pre-natal attention.
- Diet; Exercises and Games.
- Environment and living conditions.
- Mental conditions.
A man is largely what he has been made by a long line of forefathers. What he has now came from his father and mother, and from their fathers and mothers, and much further back. There are different types; a Qabaili is a different kind of man from Sindhi. Give the Qabaili the best of food and living conditions, he will grow and develop within Qabaili limits, but he will not attain the stature and brawny frame of a Sindhi. And this is what we call heredity. Without going so far back, it is particularly necessary to know that before a man is born, he has been alive for some time. Whatever food and drink the mother may have taken goes to the nourishment of the unborn child. Her thoughts and movements all have an effect on the babe to be a weak and sickly constitution will be handed on the offspring, and cannot be got rid of in one generation.
The knowledge that a good diet is necessary for health is so general that it is sometimes taken for granted. This is also true of the knowledge that exercises and games have a beneficial effect on the body, and help to build up firm muscles and healthy organs. But there has been an unfortunate tendency in Pakistan of recent years to exaggerate exercise at the expense of diet, and speak as if a programme of organized games would make up for a meager diet. Fortunately, there is a historical precedent. It was towards the close of last century that the English Board of Education decided to have a department of physical Education. The first head of the new department was Colonel Fox who had been an expert of the Army Gymnastic Staff. He went on progressive lines, and compiled satistics for a few years, showing the figures for growth, chest measurement, incidence of sickness, and all the other things by which health is measured.
The authorities at White hall were disappointed to note that here was little, if any marked improvement as a result of the new department’s activities. But there came a very bad spell of unemployment and industrial depression in the coal-fields of Durham and Northumberland, and the first legislation was passed giving the management of schools the powers and the means to feed children wo came to school without a meal. This was looked upon as a very socialistic experiment, but the results after a year or two school meals were stricking. Health was better, attendance was more regular, evidences of malnutrition were much less, and teachers reported that even in the general class-room subjects, interest was improved and progress was rapid and sustained. There has been no looking back, and in the Welfare State of England at the present day, a large part of the national expenditure is on school meals in the schools where meals are required. We see from time to time announcements that a certain district in India has appointed a “Director of Physical Training,” which is all very good; but we could wish to see more announcements of the starting of a school kitchen for the provision of a simple meal every day to hungry children.
There are many other important points. A child in a village has a better chance than a child in city slums, but this is not a fixed rule, because some villages are insanitary and malarial, and some city areas offer amenities which are of the greatest value. Any form of child labour is to be deplored, and if children are diverted into factories and mills at a tender age, the results will show in the form of reduced national physique. Fear and anxiety have a sad effect, and children must have some pleasure and some entertainment in life, for this is their natural heritage. And a nation is just like a family. If a poor man earns one hundred rupees a month, and just manages to support a wife and live children, they will be just so much worse off if another child arrives but the salary remains constant. Each mouth will have to receive a little less. That is the exact position when every passiog year adds more million of hungry mouths to the nation, unless some great effort manages to increase production to a corresponding extent.