ENTREPRENEURIAL spirit is often not given due weightage in our social mix. The general discussion not just in households but also in media and intellectual circles continue to be about employment opportunities and the unemployment rate. The good thing about entrepreneurship and enterprise is that it is nobody’s fiefdom. People in the remotest of areas and from the poorest of socio-economic backgrounds have done wonderful things without getting due appreciation from society. The funny thing is that such people are not even interested in getting this attention for they do what they do to make out a living for themselves. Sometimes the attention works to their disadvantage.
Here is one such incident. An unidentified object was spotted in the skies of Swat in the aftermath of the army operation that had already damaged the confidence of the tourists in visiting what was once a dream destination. It was discovered that a local individual using his ingenuity of mind had invented a private three-seat ‘aircraft’ powered by a low-cost scooter engine that was taking tourists for Rs100 per head from Mingora to Kalam. Before it could hit headlines, or before the enterprising young man could make a profit, however, the project was grounded for security reasons.
The entrepreneurial spirit of this genius Pakistani in Swat brings to mind the first flight of the famed Wright Brothers that triggered economic activities of unprecedented scale through aviation. We had to ground the project. That is what unnecessary attention doed to entrepreneurship!
Talking of Swat, the economic success of the ‘Princely State of Swat’ is an interesting case study before its merger with Pakistan on July 28, 1969. The small state and its people were self-sufficient and prosperous in the economic sense. The state ensured protection for all and promoted its indigenous resources including forest, wildlife, tourism and as minerals. It ensured plantation of new trees before cutting the old ones.
Good governance and speedy justice were two state functions that guaranteed equitable economic growth. No indigenous food resource, whether organic eggs, fruits or honey, was allowed to be taken out of the state without special permission, and that kept the prices within the reach of is citizens. The economic stability of the state with no financial resources other than its own can be judged from the fact that it donated a fighter jet to the under-equipped state of Pakistan soon after independence.
Once a foreign cyclist had faced harassment while in Swat. The ruler is said to have taken immediate notice of the incident and ensured that the victim was lodged in a hotel at state’s expense till the perpetrators were brought to the book. Examples of good governance such as this boosted the tourists’ confidence in the state capabilities to protect not only its citizens but also tourists.
The moral of the story is that entrepreneurship and state protection can do wonders even without university degrees. Think about it.