Friday, February 15, 2008
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.
Traditions of frugality and co-operation, coupled with an intimate and location-specific knowledge of the environment, enabled the Ladakhis not only to survive, but to prosper. Then came development. Now in Leh, the capital, one finds pollution and divisiveness, inflation and unemployment, intolerance and greed. Centuries of ecological balance and social harmony are under threat from modernisation.
The breakdown of Ladakh's culture and environment forces us to re-examine what we really mean by progress - not only in the developing parts of the world, but in the industrialized world as well. The story of Ladakh teaches us about the root causes of environmental, social and psychological problems, and provides valuable guidelines for our own future.