Friday, December 19, 2008

Scout movement and its Royal patronage

Lord Robert Baden Powell (1857-1941)
During the recent siege of Mumbai, which had live telecast for three days, I saw the snippets of some boys offering water to our tired soldiers and was instantly reminded of the Boer war and the Scout movement.

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.

King George V
In 1912, 26,000 Scouts attended a spectacular rally in Windsor Great Park to salute King George V, who granted Royal Patronage to the Scout Movement.
The royal patronage by the King Emperor indeed prompted other royals all over the world and the rulers of the princely states in India to promote the movement by being the patrons.

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.

Chief Scout HH Maharajah Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar of Mysore (1894-1940)
Chief Scout HH Jyachamaraja Wadiyar, Maharajah of Mysore (r.1940-50)
Lord Mountbatten of Burma was the Chief Scout of India during his tenure as Viceroy of India.

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.

Princess Lakshmi Bayi Kartika Tirunal (1916-2008)
Chief Guide of the Travancore Girl Guides

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.


Ashvin said...

Dear Muraliettan, is it my imagination or did HH of Mysore (Nalvadi) bear a striking resemblance to Sir CP Ramaswamy Aiyar ?

Nebu said...

Yes an uncanny resemblance to Sir. CP.

I request Murali for a post on Earl Mountbatten of Burma as well as Sir.CP.

Murali RamaVarma said...

Dear Ashvin,

Now that you said it, I too feel so. As you may know, HH Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar was a most remarkable philosopher king as aptly described by Plato about an ideal king. I intend to write on him conveniently.

Murali RamaVarma said...

Dear Nebu,

Paul Brunton, the british philosopher and mystic had closely known HH Krishnaraja Wodeyar to whom he had paid rich tributes. He was really a great king of the ancient tradition.

CP also was a great personality of remarkable accomplishments about whom we have only heard the darker stories. No doubt, he had a dark side to his persona.

I shall certainly do posts on CP and the redoubtable Admiral Lord Mountbatten who was a most colourful personality of the 20th century.


Kariyachan said...

Murali Sir, perhaps something about Gandhiji too would be a good one, since not many people know the fact he was the very first Attorney of 'Colour' in South Africa.

Maddy said...

very interesting note indeed. just yesterday we were seeing on TV that some moron stole the box of cloth badges they had stored for honoring the girl scouts of California..Some creep, I guess..What would he have got by doing that?

Nebu said...

Incidentally I forgot to mention that I too was a boy scout during my school days at Rajagiri Kalamasserry (1968-72). I remember that we were taken for camping to Malayatoor.We were taught signalling with flags as well as some intricate knots. We had a camp fire in front of the famous Malayatoor church and slept on the school benches in one of the classrooms. How can I forget the three finger salute!

HH. Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar(the present Maharajah) and I share a common interest - horse racing :)

Murali RamaVarma said...

Thanks Kariyachan. There are many facets of Gandhiji while in South Africa to be highlighted .

Murali RamaVarma said...

Dear Nebu,

Thanks for your recollections as a scout. It is interesting to note that those Malayattoor/Kalamassery days are very fresh in your mind despite the passage of time through which you may have undergone larger experiences and witnessed bigger events.

Murali RamaVarma said...

Thanks , Maddy for the comment. Very amusing incident you have quoted. Funny fellows!

Gouri Satya said...

Dear Murali _ It was nice to see two pictures of Mysore Maharajas. Jayachamaraja Wadiyar was a boy scout. There is a photo of his in scout uniform. He gifted a piece of land for construction of scout headquarters in Mysore. It is named in his honour and called the Jayachamarajendra Scout Headquarters. It was declared open by the Maharaja himself. The Jaya Scout Group in 1950s was a prominent scout group. The next leading one was Ramblers' Scout Group of which I was a member in those days. The person next to Jayachamaraja Wadiyar appears to be Rao Bahadur Ramaswamy, who was the Mysore City & District Scout President, when I was a boy scout. Presently, I am a senior journalist based in Mysore but on a visit to Auckland, New Zealand. Can you download and use the two pictures of Mysore Maharajas for an article that I am write about. I am presently writing a column on 'Old City of Mysore' in Deccan Herald, Mysore edition. So far, 45 pieces have appeared, published on every Saturday in 'City Herald' section of Mysore. my e-mail id is:

Murali RamaVarma said...

Dear Gauri Satya, Thank you very much for your comments and for all the information provided which I valued greatly and which I have noted for my records. I am also delighted to know of your interests and hope to keep in touch.I am only too glad to send you the scans of the photos by a separate mail. Could you please send me the soft copies of your articles in the Deccan Herald about old Mysore, at your convenience? I am personally very interested about Mysore and the splendour of its past.

Have a great time in Auckland.Incidentally,the offshore bank with which I was working till last year has its HQ in Cook Islands and has associate offices in Auckland. Regards,

Gouri Satya said...

Dear Murali Rama Varma - Thanks for your prompt response. I look forward to the scanned copies of the photos. I am ahppy to know that you are keenly interested in Mysore, its past. Raja Ravi Varma was closedly associated with the Mysore Palace and Maharajas. Last time when I visited Kerala, I visited the Ravi Varma Art Gallery there, but was greatly disappointed over the way it is maintained. A poor tribute to a great artist!

I will send you the hard copies of my articles in DH after I return to Mysore probaly in May.

Any information on Mysore you are welcom to seek. Besides old books relating to Mysore, I am also collecting old pix of Mysore, which I use for my feature articles.

Sure, let us keep exchanging our material.

Murali RamaVarma said...

Dear Gauri Satya,

Thanks for your response. I have separately sent the scans in your email address. Please let me know of the receipt.

In Kerala, it is a matter of regret to observe that Ravi Varma paintings are not preserved the way in which it deserves to be kept. Similarly, many priceless antiques in stone and bronze have been seen bundled up in museums with scant respect. It is with trepidation that we think as to how many objects may have been destroyed by wanton actions and allowed to be stolen.

I am also glad to note of your interests which I too share. Please do send me your articles on getting back and be in touch.

Kind regards,

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Raja said...

The Photograph said to be of Late Maharaja H.H.Nalvadi Krsihna Raja Wadiyar is actually that of his brother Late Yuvaraja of Mysore, H.H. Kanteerava Narasimha Raja Wadiyar ( father of Late Maharaja H.H. Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar).

It is surprising that even Gauri satya was not able to discern this mistake.

Princely State of Mysore was the first native state to introduce the Boys Scout movement in India in 1909 that too just two years after Baden Powell founded the movement in England. The scout Troops were ordered to be created by an enactment of the Mysore Assembly in 1917. Yuvaraja was the first Chief Scout of Mysore and was an inspiration and guide to the youth. It was due to him the movement took deep roots in the country and helped in building a selfless band of workers with the motto “Be Prepared”. In the initial year even the uniforms were distributed free. Yuvarani was the first Chief Guide and Prince Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar became a Chief Cub in 1927.

Murali RamaVarma said...

Thank you, Raja for these enlightening details. I stand corrected if the photo pertains to the Yuvaraja Kanteerava Narasimha Wodeyar. The mistake might be due to the striking resemblance of the brothers and due to my own deficiency.

I am grateful for the valuable details you added.

kind regards,

Gouri Satya said...

Thanks Raja. I entirely agree on the clarification you have made! Somehow, I had not discern this mistake! It is not the photo of KR Wadiyar IV, but of his brother and Yuvaraja Narasimharaja Wadiyar. Thanks again for the clarification.

KAL said...

Hi Murali

I was researching on the 'Travancore royals' which supposedly were the primary owners of the >75K Crore worth treasure found in the "Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple" and stopped at your blog.

Wondering if you share your expertise on this and may be any story (-ies) associated with this.

- Saral

Murali RamaVarma said...

Thank you, KAL. Yes, as suggested I shall shortly do a post on the great temple and related treasures.

Md Ali Khalid said...

I am pleasantly surprised to observe from this blog about Scouting,since Scouting is my passion.I have a few observations as well as requests:
1.I have seen the photo of the Maharaja of Mysore H.H Jayachamarajendra as the Chief cub when he was still a prince,along with his great father H.H.Kanteerava Narasimha Raja Wadiyar as Chief Scout.I am yet to see a photo of H.H.Jayachamaraja Wadiyar in Scout Uniform.Can any one furnish a copy?
2.The first Scout troop in Bangalore was started in Bishop Cotton Boys School by Col Baker in the year 1909 and it is presumed that it was only for Britishers.As the Group photo does not show any person of Indian origin.
3.The Royal family of Mysore who were great visionaries were one of the greatest promoters of Scouting and have generously donated huge money and land for the promotion of Scouting.In fact the present State head Qtrs of Scouts in Bangalore is the generous gift of the Maharaja's of Mysore in the year 1935-36.The Kanteerava Troop which is in existence even today functions from the State Head Qtrs and was named after the Late Yuvaraja.
4.Scouting is very active in the Middle east and infact there is a separate Region called the Arab Region within the World Organisation of Scout Movement with its Hqrs at Cairo,Egypt.Just an year ago HRH King Abdullah of saudi arabia gave a handsome donation of 35 Million US$ to promote PEACE in the World and the project initiated by WOSM is rightly called "Messenger of Peace".The cheque was received by none other than King of Sweden HH Carl Gustaf XIV last september.I was privileged to be present during the ceremony.
I am in knowledge as I am involved actively in scouting being the Consultant to the Asia Pacific Region with its Hqrs at Manila and has a strength of over 24 Million Scouts.I am also the State secretary Of Bharat Scouts & guides(Karnataka)

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