Author speak: S. Hariharan on Runaway Children

  • Ambica Gulati

Author S. Hariharan
There’s a dark secret in every one’s closet. But few of us are strong enough to share it with the world and turn those dark secrets into learning lessons. One of those few is S. Hariharan. Now an entrepreneur, an ardent altruist and an author, it’s difficult to imagine that once upon a time he was the runaway child. This is his true story, a memory of when imbalanced childhood emotions turned into rebellion and he decided to break away from his parents. The book is a lesson learned the hard way, of giving insights into how a little love at the right moments can salvage the worst of situations.
Born in Palakkad, Kerala, Hariharan did his MBA from Pune. In 1994, he formed his own company, Pace Setter Business Solutions Pvt. Ltd. The company is worth Rs 100 crore and employs over 4,000 people. Seeing life on the streets, he began the Street Children Foundation, to spread awareness as to how the society should take special care in educating children on the streets and making them capable of looking after themselves.
Passionate about traveling, cooking and philosophy, he shared some thoughts about the book and his passion. Excerpts from an email conversation:

The book is a message to stay put at home...but how are you going to reach the millions who you are trying to pass the message to?
I hope bloggers like you would be kind enough to publicise the book across. Besides the publishers themselves are trying to organise various events, book forums, events to publicize the book. The book has finally reached almost all major book shops of cross word and also available at (India).

What do you think children should be taught in school and at home from an early age that they don't take such steps?
That they are always loved and there should be lot of positive communication with them, from the parents especially. Never scold or hit a child since it will cause more psychological damage than physical which is very difficult to heal. Motivate them always, and give a positive picture of life. Lot of physical hugs and pats will really help.

How do your children react to this?
My son and daughter were surprised initially, but since I have lot of positive communication with them, made them understand the reasons of my running away. They have understood the same and taken it very positively.

What is the lesson for you now that it has all changed?
Love all children, is my MOTTO. So that’s the best lesson and I am working towards helping all street children and orphaned children in terms of their education and basic needs to ensure that they become earning members of the society by 21 years if not earlier.

Which NGO have you partnered with to help children?
I have my own charitable trust, by the name of Street Children Foundation, besides which I do help Vatsalya Foundation at Mahalakshmi and Samatol Foundation who are working on the runaway children exclusively.

What is the first step our society needs to take to prevent such mishaps?
To prevent, means to love unconditionally your children irrespective of them studying well or not, are creating issues at home or not. Have lots of positive communication with the children and never scold or hit them. Have empathy towards them, which is lacking in these days.

What are your plans for the future?
I have a target of 200 children to educate and improve this year, 2015. Next year 1,000 and the next year 10,000 and so on. My objective is not only spreading the news of taking special care for these special children, but also to educate and make them good citizens of tomorrow.

About the book
Publisher: Jaico Publishing
Pages: 208
Price: Rs 299

In the words of the author; “It was quite breezy and I got up with a start, feeling the roadside dirt on my lips. I was, at this time, one of many children on the street – dirty, hungry, with nowhere to go. The night’s stale loaf of bread had already been digested and I was ravenous. Nevertheless, I started the morning’s work. This was a tea shop, where I carried fifty buckets of water, two at a time, over some hundred meters. The chore took the best part of two hours and young as I was. I could have eaten a ton by the end of it! Instead, I got a fistful of watery rice and a cup of tea. We labored a good fourteen hours each day, not for money, but from the dire need of those few and paltry meals. Come night, we fell asleep on cold, bare floors and crawling insects feasted on our shivering flesh.”

The book is about how the author runs away from home and finds a world different from his world and makes a home where he is led by the track. The book uncovers a child’s state of mind through the tale of his endeavour; his pursuit for freedom and its details, sometimes grim but mostly pleasing and essentially courageous. 


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