‘Mindful Futures: Exploring Healthy Alternatives for Ladakh and Beyond’, a residential workshop focusing on strengthening local economy, culture and environment of Ladakh was a result of the collaboration between three NGOs: Flowering Dharma, Local Futures and Julay Ladakh. It was decided that the workshop would be held at Raku House, Youth cultural center and official base of Flowering Dharma from the 13th to 16th of July, 2017.
13th July, 2017:
Organizers, volunteers and participants gathered at Raku House around 4.30 p.m. to register for the workshop. Participants were then introduced to the aim of the workshop along with a brief background of all three participating NGOs. At 6.30 p.m. the gathering was addressed by Venerable Geshe Konchok Wangdu, Director, CIBS, who emphasized upon the importance of mindfulness of action, especially in today’s profit-oriented, mind-dominated world. His advice to everyone present was to focus on controlling the mind through the practice of meditation as he believes that the challenges of the exterior world can be better faced when one is equipped with a peaceful mind. The day came to a successful end with a sumptuous traditional Ladakhi dinner followed by a few interactive games for residential participants.
14th July, 2017:
The second day began at 8 a.m. with guided meditation led by Mr. Gyalpo followed by breakfast and a brief introduction to the three-day workshop. A panel titled ‘Prosperity in a Fragile Environment: Learning from Ladakh’ had three speakers present their knowledge, experience and solutions for Ladakh. Abdul Ghani Sheikh, prominent Ladakhi historian talked about the multicultural history of India, while Tashi Morup gave a detailed account of the traditional Ladakhi way of life through its oral tradition. Dolma Tsering, founding secretary of the Women’s Alliance of Ladakh and present member of the Ladakh Buddhist Association enlightened the audience on the knowledge systems embedded within the traditional local Ladakhi society and its deep connection to food, farming and community.
The session ended with a round of questions and answers followed by tea. Participants gave their inputs on the challenges they felt were being faced by Ladakh. The challenges outlined were then divided into categories such as economic, psychological, ecological and socio-cultural challenges. Participants were divided into four groups and moved around noting down problems and solutions to the specific challenges. The Local Futures and Julay Ladakh Team made presentations on Alternative Education from Japan, Mexico and India. Ancient Futures a documentary on the lifestyle and the changes in Ladakh was screened in the evening.
15th July, 2017:
Post meditation with Mr. Gyalpo at 8 a.m., participants joined Anja in the garden area of Raku House for ‘Mad Economy’, a multiple type choice guessing game that made everyone think about the global economy from a new perspective. Everyone then returned to the seminar hall for a presentation by the Local Futures team on ‘Globalisation: Characteristics, Mechanisms and Impacts’. This was followed by an exercise ‘Spectogram’ where participants gave their opinions on controversial statements related to the topics discussed earlier in the day. At 11.45 a.m. everyone was divided into groups to understand Ladakh’s challenges from a global perspective by revisiting the previous day’s brainstorming session on the same topic.
A representative was chosen from each group to express the challenges and possible solutions for the same. After lunch Tashi Namgyal, founder, Flowering Dharma led a discussion on the relevance of Nalanda philosophy in the modern world, the students from CIBS and Central Institute of Himalayan Studies, Arunachal Pradesh also were part of the session. Focusing on the discussions held in the last two days participants were split into groups to find a creative way to communicate one or more issues covered in the workshop, e.g. a skit or a song which resulted in an entertaining session. ‘Shepherdess of the Glaciers’ a documentary by Stanzin Gya was screened followed by a q/a round with the film maker.
16th July, 2017:
Mr. Gyalpo led the meditation session at 8 a.m. followed by an exercise where participants were divided into pairs and expressed their fears and feelings about the state of the world and to explore how they could transform these into positive action. The Local Futures and Julay Ladakh team made presentations on ‘Localisation in action around the world’. A panel on ‘A Mindful future-creating alternatives’ consisted of three speakers. Mr. Chozang explained how his locally based company Fine Foods is creating an alternative space for local products and the future positive outcome of such locally run businesses would have on the ecology, economy and culture of Ladakh. Tenzin Jamphel and Gyatso from Unexplored Ladakh expressed firstly, the need for a cleanliness drive and the responsibility each individual must feel towards adding onto the waste now being accumulated in the Ladakh region. Keeping the sensitive environment in mind their company caters to bicycle enthusiasts and aims at expanding further to incorporate awareness as well as support drives that work for a healthier Ladakh. Skarma Gyurmet, founder, Julay Ladakh gave the example of localization in Japan as a possible model for communities looking for alternatives to the problems of global economy. The session ended with an question/answer round.
The session with two dynamic young politicians from Ladakh, Mr. Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, honourable counselor, LAHDC, and Mr. Angchuk from Nubra Consultancy started with their own introduction and took the questions from participants who have been analyzing the problems and challenges faced by Ladakh and the rest of the world. The session was more dedicated towards understanding the perspective of the policy makers and how such issues are received at the political level. Some of the questions from the participants were how local products can be promoted and exported to help localization, the proper utilization of environmental fees collected from the tourists and most importantly, what steps could be taken towards the revitalization of the Ladakhi language which may lead to an end of the issue of identity crisis, especially amongst the youth.