Ladakh (“land of high passes”) is a region in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that currently extends from the Kunlun mountain range to the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryanand Tibetan descent. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and Kashmir and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture.
In the past Ladakh gained importance from its strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes, but since the Chinese authorities closed the borders with Tibet and Central Asia in the 1960s, international trade has dwindled except for tourism. Since 1974, the Government of India has successfully encouraged tourism in Ladakh. Since Ladakh is a part of strategically important Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian military maintains a strong presence in the region.
The largest town in Ladakh is Leh, followed by Kargil. Almost half of Ladakhis are Shia Muslims and the rest are mostly Tibetan Buddhists. Some Ladakhi activists have in recent times called for Ladakh to be constituted as a union territory because of perceived unfair treatment by Kashmir and Ladakh’s cultural differences with predominantly Muslim Kashmir
first intro’d to ladakh via Helena Norberg Hodge in schooling the world. her comment that she was there for years not able to name this characteristic of the people there.. she later called .. joy.. and that she witnessed it getting schooled out of them..
in her words in her documentary the economics of happiness:
4 min – there was this radiance i’d never experienced… no one went hungry.. they didn’t have our luxuries.. but what they did have was a way of life that was vastly more sustainable than ours.. and vastly more joyous and rich
a few notes from audio recording [http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/audio-video/item/live_event_happiness_for_all/]:
Helena was in Ladakh, Tibet for 39 years. Bhutan from 84-89. she said when she first went – both places had plenty of time, music, song, dance, humor, daily caretakers in a home.. which are key to deep/effervescent/bubbling/vital joy/happiness. but not – both places don’t show that – mostly from their being made to feel their life (like that) wasn’t adequate. they needed more. children learned to believe that their parents were idiotic for working all day – when westerners didn’t need to work at all.
she said the best education today is to do away with the romantic image of consumer culture. de-commercializing. localization as the economics of happiness. our #1 goal should be to resist the economic system. in education.. books say – got to get these people out into the city. school training for urban jobs. linked to urban capitalism. Helena was recommending la via campasina, as an organization that facilitates localization … citing that even micro funding is leaving people with debt – where they never had it before. we need to work both ends – resistance and renewal.
Local Futures began as The Ladakh Project more than thirty years ago in the Himalayan region of Ladakh.