Now and then we hear of a house catching fire, a running car dashing against a tree, or a child falling into a well. When such an accident takes place, all who come to know of it run to the spot. But many of them get so frightened and worried by what they see that they cannot be of any use to the sufferers by thinking calmly and intelligently and taking immediate action which saves life and property from being lost. This ability to think calmly and to act promptly is, called “presence of mind.”

Persons with presence of mind are of great help, not only in times of danger but also in times of famine, flood, and even war. How do some persons manage to have presence of mind? The fact is that they start disciplining their minds from an early age. Whenever faced with a problem, they do not allow their minds to be disturbed and confused. Instead, they think calmly and intelligently and do the needful at once.

Here is an example of a smart boy whose presence of mind should encourage all youngsters to develop this ability.

In a big garden in Allahabad, some boys were playing with bat and ball. One of the boys swung the bat and hit the ball with all his strength. As it was a light tennis ball, it went high and when it came down, it bumped and fell into the hollow of a banyan tree. Every one of the boys tried to take out the ball but all failed because their hands could not reach the low bottom of the dry trunk. Even a kind gentleman who saw the boys’ plight tried to take out the ball; but he too failed. All the boys then began criticizing the player who had hit the ball so hard. As their words hurt him very much, he began to cry.

Just then a smart lad who was walking about in the garden saw the boy who was crying. He came to the group of players who told him all that had happened. “That uncle there also tried to take out the ball,” said the boy who was crying, “but even he could not.” “Don’t worry,” said the smart lad patting the unhappy boy’s back, “I will get the ball out for you. Just get for me a bucket of water.”

One of the boys ran to the gardener and, with his help, brought a bucket of water. The intelligent lad started pouring the water into the hollow space of the trunk. Very soon, the water came up, bringing the light floating ball to the surface. Immediately, one of the boys picked it and threw it up in the air joyfully shouting, “Hip, hip, Hurrah!” All the boys joined him in this cheer and, with beaming faces, ran off to the playground to continue their game.

Who, do you think, was this smart lad? He was Jawaharlal Nehru.


  1. What is presence of mind? How can one develop it?
  2. Have you ever shown presence of mind in any difficult situation? If so, when and how?
  3. Write about an imaginary accident and, supposing you are present on the spot, state how you would show your presence of mind to help the people in trouble.
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