People of Ladakh face unique and extreme issues, especially in Eastern Ladakh, along the LAC with China. Ladakhis lead a nomadic and rustic life. Living close to Nature, these people are sincere and honest. Since ages, ‘Ladakh’ has stood the test of time through annexations, wars, trade, spiritual callings and a bursting tourism. ‘La-dakh’ literally means ‘The Land of High Passes’, and has been a place of interest for scholars, traders, travellers, saints and historians since time immemorial. It’s such a people-friendly place that you’d feel welcomed like a family in one visit.
It is believed in the Ladakhi society that every man must cultivate his piece of land or maintain his herd i.e. keep their traditional occupation going on for their livelihood, apart from any modern-day service they wish to opt for. Besides their traditional occupation, the people of Leh and its nearby areas depend heavily on tourism, which is seasonal and active only for a limited time period. However, the most difficult occupation is that of the herders, the ones who seek out the cold, the elemental condition needed to trigger the growth of the fine coat of goats. And for this, they embrace a lifestyle based on a beautiful symbiosis and honed to perfection over centuries.
The Changpas protect the goats from wild animals, and feed and nurse the young when the mother goats run dry. In return, the animals offer them sustenance, giving then milk, butter, meat, wool and hide. The Changpas face a multitude of threats, including the border issue and the Chinese incursion in Eastern Ladakh. The people of the Changthang region will be the first to be adversely affected if the tensions increase.
This region is also considered one of the most backward regions in terms of education, which is becoming a serious barrier for students in coping with life and the developing world. It is here that the NGO SAVE (Students Association for Village Education) has been working since the past 12 years. The NGO aspires to achieve the goal of making Changthang a better place with the means of modern education and ancient traditional wisdom.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the Chinese incursion, the NGO has not been able to reach out to many. Despite the tough times, SAVE has dedicated itself to help the Changpas. It intends to organise and manage winter coaching for the students of Changthang, where, along with academics, they plan to provide the students space to experience other scopes of real life learning and practice. With this campaign, we would like to raise funds so that SAVE can organise the coaching and help out the young minds of Changpas, amongst whom lies the future of our country.
True patriotism and courage comes natural to the people living in the harshest region of India. They don’t show patriotism on social media, they live patriotism every day. Wars have been fought at their doorsteps to capture and destroy their homes and villages since the fight against the raiders at the Zojila Pass in 1948, the Rezang La invasion during the Indo-China war in 1962 over Aksai China, the attack on Pakistani forces during the Kargil war in 1999, and now the recent Chinese incursion in Eastern Ladakh.
Common Ladakhis fearlessly bearing the courage to reside on the frontline of our country in extreme weather are no less than our soldiers, with or without their uniforms.
Some of the people living in Eastern Ladakh, who are facing war threats, have lost their homes to Chinese incursions into the Indian territory since the 1980s. China has been encroaching their territory for years. Not only that, many claim that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has been denying them access to their own pastures for “the last several years”.
Ladakh experiences the harshest weather conditions. Just walking a 100 metres in the dry cold desert of Eastern Ladakh at an extreme altitude is a challenge. Ladakhi nomads survive here to produce the world’s finest pashmina wool. This region has given us Mr Sonam Wangchuk, a renowned scientist/education reformist as well as ‘Ladakh Scouts’ guarding the inhospitable posts in the Siachen Glacier for us 24×7 since Independence. Education facilities for Ladakhi children is disrupted due to looming war threats, and we cannot depend only on our Government’s action. We are just trying to give them a chance, with or without the government’s support.
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