I had my school days, in the late sixties, in the Alleppey district of Kerala in a remote village school-where the medium of instruction of course was the vernacular language Malayalam-and got introduced into the Scout movement and became a boy scout. At that time, little did I know about Lord Robert Baden Powell, the founder of the Scout movement but for unknown reasons he always came to my mind during my visits to South Africa.
Baden Powell served the British Army during the Boer War in 1899 defending the South African town of Mafeking from over 9000 Boers. There was a nine month siege and children helped the British soldiers numbering only one thousand by running errands and being helpful to them by bringing water and food. This sow the seeds of the largest educational youth movement of the world in the mind of Baden Powell.
The scouting movement in India started in 1917, in the erstwhile State of Mysore under royal patronage. The Boys Scouts of Mysore was started under the patronage of the Maharaja, Sri Krishna raja Wadiyar as patron and his brother Yuvaraja Sri Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar as the Chief Scout. Some photos attached alongside are original photos from my collection which I procured from a personal collection in UK.
The Travancore royal family also had been in the forefront of the Scouts and Guides movement in the State. His Highness Sri Chithira Tirunal Maharaja used to be the Patron. The Elaya Raja,Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma (1922-) the present titular head of the Travancore royal family, is the Chief Scout of the regional Boy Scout movement in Kerala. Princess Karthika Tirunal Lakshmi Bai (1916-2008) had been the Chief Guide of the Travancore Guides for long time.
It amused me to see from press reports that even in the Middle East, the scout movement is quite active. King Carl Gustaf of Sweden, honorary president of the world scout foundation was in Sharjah last month to visit the scout mission.
King Carl Gustaf of Sweden at Sharjah, 2008
Dubai, 19th December 2008.