— JASMEEN DUGAL
The youngest child of Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, 76TH custodian of House Of Mewar, Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar is Trustee of The Maharana Of Mewar Charitable Foundation and Executive Director of HRH Group of Hotels. His potent combination of intelligence, commanding presence and humility is refreshing, and while his personality may command attention, it's his character that best exemplifies his nobility. Bestowed with four Guinness World Records and widely profiled in the Indian and International press as a business icon and youth leader, he discusses fire-fighting the pandemic and keeping his people safe.
Few people are committed to service with such enthusiasm, clarity of purpose and dedication to their people. How have you been helping your people save themselves from the onslaught of Covid-19?
Undoubtedly this pandemic has been the worst episode of our times, and it is still continuing, but I certainly feel that it has brought out the best in our people too! I'm a die-hard optimist and I can see how people are rallying around and trying to help each other in every which way. There is no other way to survive and fight through the pandemic. We have to ensure both lives and livelihoods: this is the real challenge of 2020 and 2021. In the city of Udaipur, and at The City Palace, we are doing our best for the citizenry. It is rather immodest to be talking about what we have been doing over the last fifteen months or so but be it livelihoods, rations, personal and products of everyday use, we're ensuring that the communities around us are in the safety net. We are working in tandem with the local government authorities, the police and the armed forces and utilising their network to reach out with material aid for more people. In fact, the entire House of Mewar has been engaged in pandemic-related charitable work. It's an endless exercise in reaching out and help anyone and everyone! On my part, in January 2021, we organised a camp for the distribution of personal hygiene products at the City Palace, Udaipur. Sure enough, it became a Guinness World Record for the 'donation of most personal hygiene products in one hour'. It was the fourth of the Guinness World Records and I was humbled by the response it generated.
Since social distancing and working from home is the new normal, how have you prepared daily wage workers and disadvantaged women, who've been financially ruined by the ongoing pandemic, to develop new skills, perhaps hand embroidery and handicrafts? What are some of the initiatives?
As I mentioned earlier, the challenge is to save both lives and livelihoods in a comprehensive way. New skills and re-learning activities may work wonders in normal times. In this pandemic era, the first priority is to help all sections of the society to remain safe, healthy and not lose their confidence. We are adhering to the government regulations since March 2020 and ensuring that all rules and protocols are adhered within the City Palace and wherever we can reach out through our network.
You're tasked with boosting the morale of your people in Udaipur and looking after the people whose jobs have been impacted by the lockdown, all the while executing your core duties which have been rendered almost impossible by social distancing requirements. What does your day look like, since?
The days are packed! There is never a dull moment in my life. Our Maharana Mewar Public School is now a major educational establishment and requires a great deal of time and effort. The online classes and the digital interfaces are new challenges we have faced. I must congratulate every member of MMPS for having coped with these new ideas and technologies with zest and optimism. Every day is a learning experience for me and my colleagues. I've always believed that we need to Grow Through Life, and not just Go Through Life. The last fifteen months have been a tremendous learning experience where we all have learnt to face an uncertain future.
The City Palace has been on the frontline of on-ground education on safeguards against the virus; distributing essentials to migrants and locals. Please share the experience with us.
The Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation and the Vidyadan Trust, of which I am a Trustee, along with the HRH Group of Hotels, has spared no effort or resources to fight the pandemic. We have adhered to the rules and regulations of the government, both at the State and the Centre. We are dedicated to charity and we continue to discharge our responsibilities voluntarily: it may not be right to share and announce to the world what are the charitable activities we have been conducting. But, yes, we're on the job all the time.
As Executive Director of the HRH Group Of Hotels, you're actively involved in preserving and managing the palace-hotels and Udaipur was voted ''third most beautiful city in the world''. Now that travel and tourism may experience an upward curve, how are you strategizing to make the palace hotels a safer enriching experience that combines a luxury lifestyle with the culture, traditions and heritage of Udaipur?
Travel and tourism have been the worst affected in this pandemic era. It's been a tough crisis beyond imagination and risk management parameters. The city of Udaipur, since 2009, had been voted time and again as the 'best city in the world to visit'. Often, in these ratings, Udaipur has been way ahead of all-time favourites like Venice or Sydney. These ratings are indicative of how Udaipur has preserved its character, its soul and has not become a faceless modern city, indistinguishable from the other so-termed 'famous cities'. Let me give one example: in October 2019, Udaipur played host to the 30th Global Summit of the Family Business Network [FBN], with over four hundred of the world's leading family business heads present and participating in the four-day long summit. As the city hosts, we warmly welcomed these global dignitaries in our midst, and at one of the opening sessions, it was remarked that Udaipur had come a very long way in hosting such a significant global summit. With FBN choosing to host the Summit in Udaipur, well, they could have chosen Mumbai, Delhi or Jaipur instead — it remains a testimony to how the heritage city has grown and developed its abilities to cater to the needs of such a high-profile global audience. In the new normal era, we shall have to calibrate our growth along different lines. But we shall remain true to our values and first get over the pandemic challenge. And then build ahead… in Rajasthan, we think in decades and generations. I'm sure we'll be able to get back to the days of 2019 and offer the best in class services and tourism products like before.
Please share your goals for the next five years, in particular HRH Group of Hotels and the city.
We own and manage palace-hotels. Shiv Niwas Palace and Jagmandir Island Palace are our iconic hotels in Udaipur. The HRH Group of Hotels has now been around for five decades and our operations have been streamlined, professionalized and computerised beyond belief. 'Experience the Original in the Abode of King' is our brand positioning and USP. We are India’s largest chain of palace hotels and resorts under private ownership in Rajasthan and I guess we will remain so. Rooted in our own reality, our land. Tourism in Rajasthan had been going great guns, and with better planning and focus, it will do even better in the years to come. Of course, everything now needs to be tweaked and sharpened, but that applies to every industry in the pandemic era. Yes, Udaipur and Rajasthan remain a big draw for travel and tourism. I hope in the coming years there would be a renewed focus on creating infrastructure that can support several other industries besides tourism and travel. IT, manufacturing and service industries could make Udaipur into a significant hub.
Wrapping up the interview, the thought that stayed with me was that few men of his age have given service with such enthusiasm, steadfast resolve, clarity of purpose and dedication to their people. Wise beyond his years, he doesn't subscribe to philosophers or authors. I remember having asked him when we last met, who he seeks guidance from and he had replied, ''Life''. Not only is he progressive thoughts, he isn't shy about expressing and implementing his vision for the good of his people. This is just the tip of the ice-berg. There is much more to Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar. Jai Mewar!
21 June 2021 1:30 pm IN CONVERSATION WITH YUVRANI MEENAL SINGHDEO
21 November 2020 1:01 pm RANI ARCHANA KUMARI OF BADNORE
24 May 2020 9:22 am SHIVINA KUMARI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PRINCESS DIYA KUMARI FOUNDATION
30 June 2019 10:01 pm LAKSHYARAJ SINGH MEWAR
15 April 2019 7:30 pm HH MAHARAJA GAJ SINGH JI OF JODHPUR