Governer N N Vohra inaugurated Ladakh International Centre (LIC), a platform in the trans -Himalayan region to engage in informed discussion and research on national, regional and global issues on June 13 at Leh.
C. Phuntsog, former Chief Secretary and Lt General Rakesh Sharma, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 14 Corps were special Guest Speakers at the opening of the first Think Tank in Ladakh.
The LIC aims to create a neutral space for the scholars and practitioners to exchange ideas with the latest Science and Thoughts. Established under the leadership of Ambassador P.Stobdan, Ladakh centre will provide information, analysis and dialogue facilitation for scientists, scholars and policy makers. It hopes to become a good information bridge for the rest of the country on the glory that is Ladakh.
He said, “Apart from socio-cultural and developmental issues, the centre will focus on the issues of shared concerns particularly on the problems and potentials of mountains and mountains people, such as food security and farming at high altitude, energy, water and ecosystem security, environmental monitoring, climate change and natural disasters. The number of scientists’ visiting the Himalayas for research is likely to increase in the coming years particularly to study the global pattern of climate change. Ladakh has the potential of producing a large number of para-scientists who could play useful; role for global science diplomacy. The study of national and regional security is going to be high on Centre’s agenda. Through its research, the centre aims to help the decision makers navigate the changing geopolitical environment in High Asia and its surroundings regions of East Asia, south Asia and Central Asia. It also aims to explore the strategic potentials of Ladakh not just for Defence but also as an outpost or as a spring board to advance India’s interest across Asia.”
To be sure, in the years to come, Ladakh once again can become a convenient gateway for the country to reconnect with Inner and Central Asia and beyond and in the process J&K would regain its pivotal status for trans national trade, he said.
The centre hopes to create a network of Scholars and leaders of the society with the objective of finding common interests and providing a platform for interaction and collective action. It will hold regular conferences, seminars, dialogues, workshops, exhibitions on topical themes and on issues of local interest. It plans to bring out issue-briefs, a quarterly research bulletin and research paper series. It will become a hub for interaction with national and international visitors, including high dignitaries to Ladakh.
This is perhaps the first Think Tank in Ladakh and in the Trans-Himalayan region to undertake research with national perspective. In the absence of a University in Ladakh, It hopes to become, in a few years’ time, a significant contributor to the growth of Intellectual potentials of this region. Eventually, it aims to develop into an institution of great distinction.
The facility is being built by Ambassador Stobdan from his personal funding either from the government or from outside. However, the centre hopes to receive support from both the state and central governments. The centre would eventually request the State and District administration to provide an adequate land for building a Conference hall and a library.
Governor N. N Vohra congratulated Ambassador P. Stobdan for creating premises which could be use for the times to come for serious discussions on the topics which are of interest not only to the people of Ladakh but the people of J&K and the entire region. Over the years despite many challenges and problem Ladakh region has made progress. The people of Ladakh region known not only for the brave Ladakh Scouts but each & every person who lives in the region are known for bravery for standing up in difficulties times and meeting challenges no matter how difficult and daunting they are. He appreciated the century old monasteries, Stupas and culture which make Ladakh a distinct region.
Besides security, which is a national challenge we have to be more sensitive to the security in Ladakh because we have two militarised borders. In the state of J&K we have not a happy past history of inter relations with other neighbours. So we need to be careful and cautious. We need to be vigilant around the clock to maintain the unity integrity of our country. He further said, ‘I am very happy to mention that a small research centre in Padum in Zanskar is now operational. We need to do much better. We need to build roads virtually overnight. We need to provide good connectivity, good speed or movement in the particular season. Then there are host of issues which needs to be discussed. Hope this centre will provide a good platform.”
C. Phuntsog, Former Secy. congratulated P. Stobdan for his initiative in founding an academic forum in Ladakh to carry out research and studies on issues of Local, regional, national and even international issues. From the name of the centre it is apparent that Ladakh is going to be a separate field of studies. He further added, “The geographic isolation of this region nurturing the confluence of tourists has made the area into crucible for distinctive social cultural entity. The challenges pose by the harsh Ladakhi climate and the inspirations given by the Ladakhi picturesque environment have shed the Ladakhi ethos or Ladakhi attitude. Politically Ladakh has been an independent Kingdom founded by the Tibetan Prince La chen Spal gi gon in 950. And relatively free passage of Ladakh through history subjugation of any kind has lent the people of this region with unshakable confidence which founds despite the economic deprivation area basis of their tolerant attitude. Historically it became a part of the Dogra Kingdom in 1834 and also a part of the state of J&K by virtue of the Treaty of Amritsar when Kashmir was added to the kingdom. And in 1947 by virtue of the Instrument of Assession it became a part of the Independent union of India. And over the past few decades Ladakhis have witnessed an unprecedented general assimilation into the country’s mainstream like no other ethnic minority. They have come to participate in the in the Indian Nation shoulder to shoulder with the people of the other region.”
The people of this area feel indebted towards the army for all the help rendered by the Army in hours of need be it in the disaster time or in peace time and generation of economic opportunities by purchasing the local goods and services. In times of war the people of this region have reciprocate in full measure & the symbiotic relation has ever been on the growth. Leh District is topping in Per capita income in the list of the state districts. Now it has become a tourist destination and there is no need in introducing Ladakh to the outside world anymore. But the challenge now is to give a proper direction to this sector so that, so as to see that the adverse impact of tourism is minimised. For eg. It would be disastrous to allow the tourism to develop haphazardly without regard to the commensurate development infrastructure like intra region road connectivity, transport facilities and improvement of public utilities like water supply or electricity supply or improvement of Facilities for sewage disposal, garbage disposal and above all the hospitality in keeping with the Indian Ethos of “Atithi devo Bhava.”
Summing up his speech he said, “Now these are the issues required to be discussed, debated and analysed at appropriate Forums and perhaps Ladakh International Centre could provide one forum like this so, as to generate inputs from planners and policy makers to lay down strategies and priorities for future. I do hope that LIC will provide a forum to discuss all these issues so as to policy makers to take informed decisions to give proper direction in future and I also hope that ambassador P .Stobdan will bring his vast experience in the fields of Diplomacy and academics to bear on the programmes and projects of this centre .And I wish the P. Stobdan success in his endeavour.”
Gen Rakesh Sharma, Goc I4 Core said, “Geo strategically Ladakh region is growing. There is need for us to discuss, to find ways, guidance, to find ways to the policy makers for Future. The region is immensely developing. In my one year tenure out here & of course the previous times what I have seen is, this region grow from nowhere. Culture here is no more isolated as it was before. Things are changing and we have to accept the change, change is always for the good. We have to prepare ourselves for the future. He assured any help which is required for the intellectual growth of the region as the things develop. He acknowledges the valour, bravery the dedication of the people of Ladakh in all the wars. He said, “We salute them for what they have done. Ladakh Scouts Regiment that we have is an epitome of strength.”
The LIC was registered as a trust on 25 July 2013 under the leadership of Ambassador P .Stobdan.