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.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Epitaph for our men in uniform -Mumbai, November 2008-


I drop two tears in memory of the brave soldiers and the policemen who laid down their lives fighting valiantly during the eventful Mumbai days of November 2008 igniting the waves of patriotism, unity and of the supreme sacrifice. May their breed prosper and live long till the earth lasts!

Let’s also salute all the soldiers who took part in “Operation Cyclone” and saved many lives and brought back cheers to our kids!

Rudyard Kipling, the much controversial poet had brilliantly written the following epitaph for a dead soldier,

“If any question why we died,
Tell them because our fathers lied”

These bitter word written after WW I, were written in agony because, the poet thought that if they had lived, they would have corrected the errors of the generation that preceded them.

I think that it wont be improper if we replaced the word “’fathers”’ with “politicians” to make the statement more explicit. Had Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte, Sandeep Unnikrishnan or any of the others lived, they would have tried to rectify the mistakes of our politicians!

Once again, let me salute the soldiers by remembering the following quote:

"It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, And whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to burn the flag”

- Father Dennis Edward O'Brian
Dubai, 2nd December 2008.