Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Entrepreneurial Kids!

I had this experience yesterday evening when I was walking home from the swimming pool in our apartment complex. I saw two kids with their skateboards playing in the empty parking lot. One of them was slightly chubby and looked like the typical hyperactive kid. The other wore thick spectacles and looked like the studious types. Both of them were attired in complete safety gear for skateboarding, knee pads, elbow guards, helmets were in place and they were enjoying themselves on the wheels.

I have always been enamoured by skates and skateboarding and stopped to chat up with the kids. "Hey! Do you skateboard everyday?" I asked. "Yes, we are having holidays now. Do you have anything for us to do?" said one of the kids. I hid my surprise at the open question and asked them whether they could teach me how to skate board. "Yes of course!" said both in unision. I was taken aback because I was not prepared for such an enthusiastic response. Moreover I was still attired in swimming clothes and sandals. "Not today, I will be here tomorrow." I replied.

"You don't have to do it. Just watch us do and you will learn a little," said the chubby kid and both of them launched themselves on the boards and started whirling around me making odd curvaceous patterns. After sometime they stopped and started talking to me. "This is summer, we don't have school. We want to perfect our skating and then perform stunts," said the chubby kid who was obviously more vociferous than the geeky looking one. In the same breath he continued "Yesterday we earned five bucks at the basketball court by fetching them balls which went out. We are always looking for jobs so we can make some candy money."

This caught me completely by surprise. These are two kids, probably 10-12 year olds and they already want to work and earn money. They are not looking for handouts but for jobs to make money. I wish I had had this kind of entreprenurial spirit and acumen when I was their age. I recall our former president APJ Abdul Kalam's constant emphasis that education institutions should focus on creating entrepreneurs and not employees. Now I understand what he meant. This kind of enterprise is what is absolutely necessary for the economic progress of a country.

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