A four-day conference of the 17th International Association for Ladakh Studies (IALS) took place on 26th till 29th July at Tourist Facilitation Center. The event was organized by IALS in collaboration with Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil and J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Language.
The first day began with the inaugural function of the conference at the Sayeed Mehdi Memorial Auditorium Hall which had a vibrant Cultural programme performance by J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Language.
Haji Anayat Ali-Chairman J&K Legislative Council was the Chief Guest and Haji Hanifa Jan-Chief Executive Councilor LAHDC Kargil was the Guest of Honour on the event. Prof. P.Stobdan former Ambassador of India, John Bray former IALS President, Executive Councilors-Sayeed Abbas Razvi and Tsering Angdus were also present on the occasion. Many national and international members of IALS also attended the event both students and scholars.
The keynote speech was given by Prof. P.Stobdan and Haji Anayat Ali, Haji Hanifa Jan, and John Bray also delivered their speeches. P. Stobdan emphasised that IALS has provided a stage for Ladakhi scholars and young researchers to present their research papers on Ladakh internationally and be dependent on their own research works. He said that he feels proud to see IALS conference being held in Kargil.
Anayat Ali in his speech said that it is an honour for Kargil to organize the conference the second time after 2004. He appreciated IALS members for their commendable contribution in the field of research on Ladakh.
John Bray while addressing the audience spoke about the aims of IALS emphasising that it is a platform for first-hand research on Ladakh in order to expand the knowledge about the region and share it with the people.
Haji Hanifa Jan in his speech appreciated IALS for giving an international space for the researcher in Ladakh. He added that LAHDC Kargil will do everything in their power to make the conference a successful. He added that events like IALS conferences should be held more in Kargil as it will help in making Kargil a popular tourist destination which is very much needed.
Later, the conference’s sessions were held at TFC wherein research papers on a variety of topics about Ladakh were presented by scholars, professors and young research students.
Throughout the three days experts in their respective fields like John Bray, Kacho Asfandyar Khan, Blaise Humbert, Sophie Day, Dr Sonam Wangchok, M.S Raghuvanshi, Sreekumar Menon, Professor David Park, Yutaka Hirako, Karola Wood also gave presentation on their research works.
Sessions ranged from Climate change and water management in Ladakh, Governance and Political change, Religion, History, Folk Art, Material culture, Agriculture, Heritage and Biodiversity conservation, Ladakhi Flora, Art and Architecture and Contemporary Society of Ladakh.
After every paper presentation, time was also allotted for interaction session with the audience and the respective presenter. There were a number of documentaries shown during the conference. A total number of forty six papers were presented throughout the conference out of which thirteen Ladakhi students from various universities of India gave research paper presentation on topics of their interest and study.
An Urdu session also took place wherein eminent Urdu scholars of Kargil participated. The conference also had a number of foreign researchers and students participants.
Topics like Financial Inclusion in Ladakh by Rigzin Yangdol, Social Change and Water Infrastructure in Leh by Judith Muller, Building Envelop for passive House in Cold-climate Region by Tahir Ahmad, Politics of representation by Haider Ali Askary, History of Islamic, Religious education system in Kargil, Post-Independence by Fayaz Hussain, Lost in Conversation: Case of Dukhang Nyingpa of Karsha by Noor Jahan Chunka and Traditional Potters: Case study of Lukhil Village by Stanzin Yangdol were among the interesting research work presented by the students.
On 28th, the election for the new committee members of the IALS took place. Dr Sonam Wangchok Kharzong was elected as the President, Dr Konchok Paldan as Secretary and Tashi Murup as Ladakh Liasion Officer. A new advisory committee of eight members were also elected on the same day.
Dr Sonam Wangchuk Kharzong said, “IALS is a platform for all the scholars, researchers and students interested in Ladakh studies to interact and share their findings and knowledge. I will try my best to keep up the legacy and undertake more activities between the conferences to encourage and facilitate the students who are new to research and Ladakh studies”.
The following day a day long trip was organized for the members of IALS to Hundurman and Kartse Khar. The conference concluded with a dinner party organized by LAHDC, Kargil in the evening at TFC.
IALS has been organizing conference usually once every two years in Ladakh or in a European country. They also publish research works and produce a biannual newsletter, “Ladakh Studies” which includes information about conferences, planned and current studies, requests for specific information and help, short reports, publications and general information about Ladakh. IALS has given the same space for young and experienced researchers on Ladakh to showcase their work. It gives a great opportunity for students to learn and expand their knowledge about Ladakh by meeting and interacting with eminent scholars in the field. The conference has been held seven times in Ladakh.
Under the initiative of Henry Osmaston, the International Association for Ladakh Studies (IALS) was formed and the first international colloquium on Ladakh was organised at Konstanz (Germany) in 1981 and since then 17 conferences have been held till now.