The Bharat Scouts and Guides

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The Bharat Scouts and Guides
The Bharat Scouts and Guides
Emblem of the BSG
Headquarters New Delhi
Country India
Founded November 7, 1950
Membership 3,720,610
National Commissioner Lalit Mohan Jain

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The Bharat Scouts and Guides (BSG; Hindi: भारत स्काउट्स एवं गाइड्स) is the national Scouting and Guiding association of India.

Scouting was founded in India in 1909 as an overseas branch of the Scout Association and became a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1938. Guiding in India started in 1911 and was amongst the founder members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 1928, also covering present-day Bangladesh and Pakistan at that time. The BSG serves 2,434,449 Scouts and 1,286,161 Guides (as of 2005).[1]


Boy Scouts

Scouting was officially founded in British India in 1909, first starting at the Bishop Cotton's Boys School in Bangalore. Scouting for native Indians was started by Vivian Bose, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, Pandit Hridayanath Kunzru, Annie Besant and George Arundale, in 1913. Prior to this date, Scouting was open only for British and foreign Scouts. In 1916, a Cub section was started, followed by the Rover section in 1918.

In 1916, Calcutta's Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police J. S. Wilson introduced Scouting for Boys as a textbook in the Calcutta Police Training School. Colonel Wilson volunteered his services to the District Scout Commissioner, Alfred Pickford, and in 1917 became Assistant Scoutmaster of the Old Mission Church Troop. Together the two struggled for the admission of Indian boys into the Boy Scouts Association, which had not been admitted due to a Government of India order against it because "Scouting might train them to become revolutionaries". Shortly Wilson was acting as Cubmaster and Scoutmaster, and succeeded Pickford as District Commissioner in May 1919 when Pickford was promoted to Chief Scout Commissioner for India.

As a way of getting around the Government Order, the Boy Scouts of Bengal was founded, with identical aims and methods. Many separate Scout organizations began to spring up, the Indian Boy Scouts Association, founded in 1916, based in Madras and headed by Annie Besant and George Arundale; Boy Scouts of Mysore; Boy Scouts of Baroda; Nizam's Scouts; Seva Samiti Scout Association, founded in 1917 by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya and Pandit Hridayanath Kunzru and based in Allahabad; the aforementioned Boy Scouts of Bengal and likely others. A conference was held in Calcutta in August 1920 in which Wilson staged a Scout Rally, and as a result the Viceroy of India sent an invitation to Lord Baden-Powell, by then Chief Scout of the World, to visit India. Lord and Lady Baden-Powell arrived in Bombay in late January 1921 for a short tour of the subcontinent before leaving Calcutta for Rangoon. Alfred Pickford accompanied them and became one of their closest friends.

The Boy Scouts Association in India membership badge–note modern Burma, Pakistan and Bangladesh are included in the map

The result of this visit was a union of all of the Scout organizations except the Seva Samiti Scout Association into The Boy Scouts Association in India. In 1922 Pickford returned to England and was appointed Overseas Commissioner of The Boy Scouts Association at their headquarters in London, but his dream of allowance of local boys into the program had been fulfilled.

In 1938, a number of members left the Boy Scouts Association in India after a wave of nationalism. They formed – together with the Seva Samiti Scout Association and the newly founded India National Scout Association – the Hindustan Scout Association, the first coeducational Scouting and Guiding organisation in India.[2] In the same year, the Boy Scouts Association in India became a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

Girl Guides

The first Girl Guides company was founded in Jabalpur in 1911. The movement immediately grew: In 1915, more than fifty companies existed with a membership of over 1,200, all of them directly registered with the Girl Guide Association and all restricted to girls of European descent. These companies formed the All India Girl Guides Association in 1916. In the same year the organisation opened for Indian girls.[3][4]

In 1928, the All India Girl Guides Association joined the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts as one of its founder members. This membership was renewed in 1948 after the independence of India and its partition.[4]

Bharat Scouts and Guides

In the first years after India's independence leading politicians, including Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Mangaldas Pakvasa, as well as Scout leaders tried to unify India's Scouts and Guides. A first success was the merger of the The Boy Scouts Association in India and the Hindustan Scout Association forming the Bharat Scouts and Guides on November 7, 1950. About a year later, on August 15, 1951, the All India Girl Guides Association joined this new organisation.[5]

In 1959, the 17th World Scout Conference in New Delhi was hosted by the BSG. The Sangam World Girl Guide/Girl Scout Center in Pune, Maharashtra, India, opened in 1966. The idea for this fouth world centre dates back to 1956 when it was developed during a WAGGGS International commissioners' meeting in New Delhi.

The United Nations selected the Bharat Scouts and Guides as honorary "Peace Messengers" for their significant and concrete contributions to the International Year of Peace in 1986.

Sethna's 18th West Bombay Scout Group

Sethna's 18th West Bombay Scout Group is the oldest continously running Scout Group in India. It was established in 1914, when Rustomji Edulji Sethna (1898-1954) came across the book Scouting for Boys, written by Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout movement. He was enamoured by the book and formed one of India's first Scout groups for native boys. Prior to that, there existed some Scout groups, but they were primarily for the British expatriates in India then.

Sethna resisted joining one of the competing Scout associations and registering his troop until Scouting became open for all irrespective of color, caste, or creed. He wrote to Baden-Powell about this discrepancy. In 1921 the regulations were changed and all were allowed to become part of the Scout movement in India. The 18th West has been continuously running since the day it started. None of the World Wars or the Partition of India stopped the group from functioning.

Notable members

Vivian Bose was a member of the World Scout Committee of the World Organization of the Scout Movement from 1947 until 1949.

In 1969, Mrs. Lakshmi Mazumdar was awarded the Bronze Wolf, the only distinction of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, awarded by the World Scout Committee for exceptional services to world Scouting.


The association describes its aims in its mission:

The mission of Scouting is to contribute to the education of young people, through a value system based on the Scout Promise and Law to help build a better world where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society.[6]

Scout and Guide units are separate although they have some coeducational activities such as Jamborees, rallies, and conferences. Handicapped boys and girls also participate in the Scouting program.

Sections and branches

Membership badge–Dwitiya Sopan Scout/Guide rank

The association is divided in four (respective three) sections according to age:[7]

Bharat Scouts
  • Bunnies - ages 3 to 6
  • Cubs - boys, ages 5 to 10
  • Scouts - boys, ages 10 to 17
  • Rovers - boys, ages 16 to 25
Bharat Guides
  • Bulbuls - girls, ages 6 to 10
  • Guides - girls, ages 10 to 18
  • Rangers - girls, ages 18 to 25

Additionally, there are four special branches:[7]


Rashtrapati Scout/Guide Award (older version)

The highest awards are

Scout Motto

  • Cubs/Bulbuls - Koshish Karo (Do your best)
  • Scouts/Guides - Taiyar (Be Prepared)
  • Rovers/Rangers - Seva (Service)

Scout Oath

On my honour, I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to God[1] and my country,
To help other people
And to obey the Scout/Guide Law.

[1] - The word "Dharma" may be substituted for the word "God" if so desired.

Scout Law

  1. A Scout/Guide is trustworthy
  2. A Scout/Guide is loyal
  3. A Scout/Guide is a friend to all and a brother/sister to every other Scout/Guide.
  4. A Scout/Guide is courteous
  5. A Scout/Guide is a friend to animals and loves nature.
  6. A Scout/Guide is disciplined and helps protect public property.
  7. A Scout/Guide is courageous.
  8. A Scout/Guide is thrifty.
  9. A Scout/Guide is pure in thought, word and deed.

Bharat Scouts and Guides abroad

The BGS maintains units for Indian citizens in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The Saudi Arabia branch serves 222 members, and the Oman branch 5,414 members.[1]

Other Scouting organisations

Other Scouting organisations in India include the Global Movement of Green Scouts in New Delhi and the Hindustan Scouts and Guides Association founded in 2001 whose national recognition was withdrawn in February 2005 after being heavily opposed by the Bharat Scouts and Guides.[8][9]

International Scouting units in India

In addition, there are American Boy Scouts in New Delhi, linked to the Direct Service branch of the Boy Scouts of America, which supports units around the world.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Membership". The Bharat Scouts and Guides. Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  2. "The Bharat Scouts and Guides". Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  3. "About us". The Bharat Scouts and Guides. Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (1997). Trefoil round the World. London: World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. ISBN 0-900827-75-0. 
  5. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named BSG-history
  6. "Mission statement". The Bharat Scouts and Guides. Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Youth training". The Bharat Scouts and Guides. Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  8. "Recognition to new scouting body flayed". The Hindu (The Hindu Group Publications). 2001-04-28. Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  9. "Recognition withdrawn". Deccan Herald (The Printers (Mysore) Pvt. Ltd.). 2005-02-18. Retrieved 2007-01-13. 


  • Scouting 'Round the World, John S. Wilson, first edition, Blandford Press 1959.

External links

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