In 2010, Taj Global Understanding received the blessing and support of the Gujarat State Bharat Scouts & Guides to establish an ‘open’ troop in the city of Ahmedabad. Traditionally, scouting is promoted through schools in India, a method, which differs from the volunteer based scouting model of Western nations. An ‘open’ troop is essentially a volunteer troop which is authorized and recognized by local scouting authorities to operate independently.

Troop 1992 “Mark Twain” currently serves 32 dynamic underprivileged youth who reside in a community, which is adjacent to the historic Gandhi Ashram (home to Mahatma Gandhi), which is located in Ahmedabad, a city of over 7.5 million. Youth leader Mr. Kiran Solanki was hired by TGU to serve full time as Scoutmaster for Troop 1992.

Troop 1992 has been designed to utilize the platform of scouting to serve and provide leadership opportunities, skill training, personality development, and international exposure to those in need. Having been in existence for over 100 years, scouting is a tested program, which is recognized worldwide. Troop 1992 is fully supported, financed, and managed by Taj Global Understanding.

TGU’s vision for the Scout Program is
  • To blend the Indian model of scouting with a Western model of scouting to enhance the overall educational enrichment and maximize the full potential of the scouting program.
  • To utilize the patrol system along with senior scout positions to impart self- governance, teamwork, and leadership skills.
  • To focus on Rank Advancement and Proficiency Badges (Merit Badges) in order for the scouts to acquire new skills and nurture new talents.
  • To provide scouts with future career opportunities as a direct result of their participation and success in the scouting program.
  • To have Troop 1992 serve as a model youth program within the immediate impoverished community, the city, state, country, and world.
  • To foster cross cultural links and build bridges with other scouting communities within India and Internationally
  • To establish a Girl Guide troop to foster the very same opportunities to young women.
Mr. Brad Baldwin, founder of Taj Global Understanding, is an Eagle Scout from Troop 196 in Culpeper, Virginia. As a youth, Brad served in various capacities as Historian, Assistant Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, & Senior Patrol Leader. Moreover, he earned 51 merit badges, God & Country, and was a member of the Order of the Arrow. Baldwin attended 5 summer camps, a National Jamboree and completed over 1,000 miles of biking, hiking, and backpacking through the United States.

During a trip to India in 1998, Brad Baldwin developed a friendship with fellow international traveler Mr. Jules Rikkers, of Perth Australia. Mr. Rikkers was closely associated with the scouting movement in Australia, with his son Jayden, as well as serving as the International Commissioner of Scouts Australia (WE Branch).

“The inspiration for Troop 1992 was born of a desire by two former scouts (one American, one Australian) to fulfill Baden Powell’s challenge to all scouts to ‘Try and leave this world a little better than you found it.” Our vision is to blend elements of several World Scouting programs (specifically “Ticket to Life”, “Scouts of the World”, and “Messengers of Peace”) as a focus for promoting peace and goodwill around the world. We encourage scouts from around the world to support this initiative by joining the “Friends of Troop 1992” on Facebook and perhaps even to plan a visit to India.” Jules Rikkers, Australia

Generally, in the United States, various churches and religious organizations within the local community often host scout troops. These organizations provide meeting rooms, large activity halls, and even a dedicated storage room for troop equipment.

As an ‘open’ troop in India not affiliated with a school, TGU required a local host. Therefore, TGU was thrilled when our good friends at Manav Sadhna stepped up to the plate and offered TGU the ability to utilize their Community Center premises, which are located in the middle of Gujarat’s largest slum community. The Community Center facility is accessible, provides a safe environment, has both an open ground and classrooms, as well as basic infrastructure requirements.
In January 2013, Jules Rikkers led a coed expedition of Australian scouts to India. The group spent over a week with Troop 1992, engaging in various workshops, spending time with scouts, and scout families, as well as sponsoring a 4-day trip to a high adventure scout camp in Mount Abu, Rajasthan. The trip was an amazing experience for the scouts, as none of them had ever seen a mountain before. At the camp, scouts participated in trekking, rock climbing, caving, pioneering, archery, shooting, and many other activities.

Indian regulations only allow for the maximum troop size to be 32 scouts. If you have more scouts, a new troop needs to be formed. The only reason this is problematic with an ‘open’ troop because more funding and resources are required. Because of the success and impact of Troop 1992, TGU has a waiting list of youth in the community who wish to join the scout program. There are even parents who meet regularly with our Scoutmaster to express their desire for their son to be apart of the scouting program. These actions alone speak to the success of the program.
Troop 1992 is made possible through the generosity and support of individuals and organizations across the globe and their support to the mission of Taj Global Understanding.

TGU would like to thank the following:
  • Dr. Martin Euler, Physician (Hamburg, Germany)
  • The Martin and Phillip Euler Kids Foundation,
  • Manav Sadhna,
  • Scouts Australia (WA Branch),
  • Jan & Ron Evans (Virginia)
  • Peterson’s Jewelers (Virginia)
  • Elliott DeJarnette (Virginia)
  • Peggy & Doug Kyle (Virginia)
  • Don Baldwin (Virginia)
  • Chrysler of Culpeper (Virginia)
  • Clore English Funeral Home (Virginia)
  • Todd & Lisa Rudd (Virginia)
  • Boy Scout Troop 16, Graeme & Vicky Tidman (Virginia)
  • Ketsy & Mort Chiles (Virginia)
  • Brian & Charmaine Jones (Tennessee)
  • Michele B. Voss (New Hampshire)
“ Working in the U.S. was a dream come true. Got to learn how to earn money and how to be independent. ”