Ladakh is a fragile region in the Northern most part of India. Over the years, development reached this tucked away corner of the country. However, this development comes at a heavy price.

How we can learn about ecological solutions from an ancient culture? Ladakh, or Little Tibet, is a wildly beautiful desert land high in the western Himalayas. It is a place of few resources and an extreme climate. Yet, for more than a thousand years, it has been home to a thriving culture. Then came development. Now the capital, Leh, has issues of pollution, unemployment, inflation, and greed.

This strain has a detrimental impact on the lives of the locals. Their income is primarily earned through tourism but this is starting to affect the fragile ecosystem that supports the region. Minimal rainfall and high altitude do not allow for great diversity in vegetation. Consequently, much of the food in Ladakh is imported for tourists and locals. This in turn places a severe economic strain on the local communities.

People look at the story of Ladakh being typical of the spread of industrial society. However, with people’s attention on Ladakh, this provides a unique opportunity. People who are concerned about the more unfortunate outcomes now have a new choice. The people of Ladakh have a choice in how they would like to live their lives. The concepts of poverty and shortage was not always known to the people of Ladakh. So, it follows that they can unlearn them in time, if they hold on to their cultural heritage. This ties in with the need to maintain their identity in a growingly homogeneous global society.

62 Minutes / 1993 / Directed by Eric Walton

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