Liveable Talk Series IV

Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG) organised its fourth talk of the Liveable Leh Talk Series at the meeting hall in its office premises in Karzoo on July 9. Mipham Otsal, one of the most well-known theatre artist from Leh, was the speaker for the occasion. Mipham spoke about traditional solutions for contemporary problems. The talk was attended by Alex Jensen from Local Futures, Kasia Gnyra, a journalist-cum-traveller, Ann Riquier, who does volunteer work in Leh, Stanzin Lamo, a restaurateur, Lars from Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company, students from SECMOL, foreign tourists and locals.

Tenzin Motup, event manager, gave the welcome speech and apprised the audience about the ongoing development work that has completely transformed Leh town. Thereafter, Mipham Otsal spoke about traditional values, underlining its importance in the contemporary Ladakhi society. He said that Ladakhis should learn values from others and also added that people of his generation are sad to see the ongoing unplanned development and changes in Leh town. He said that when Ladakh was opened for tourists in early 70’s, there were unwanted changes which bamboozled the locals. Mipham said that their ancestors were very smart and intelligent. He cited the examples of Alchi monastery to substantiate his point. He said that if someone were to compare the building built in the 14th century in the USA and Ladakh, then the building built by the latter would win hands down, even though Ladakhis did not have sophisticated tools and facilities at that time.

He mocked the current generation who takes pride in their education but are in fact creating problems for the society. He said that we are not creating new which could add value to our culture and heritage. Instead we are clinging on to things which were created by our ancestors. The irony, Mipham stressed, was that we are not even able to preserve the legacy left behind by our ancestors. He said that the Ladakhis need to learn the ‘science of logic’. Mipham shared with the audience that he worked with Helena-Norberg, who founded LEDeG in 1983, and staged plays to highlight the changes in Leh.

According to Mipham, the idea behind the plays was to preserve the rich culture, tradition and heritage of Ladakh because if we lose them we lose everything. He said that changes are necessary, but the changes should not be above our culture. He also said everyone should be a creator. He said that problems are arising due to duplication because everyone trusts in duplication and crores of rupees spent on imitation by the government. Mipham said the people engaged in tourism activities earn crores of rupees but are not spending even a penny on the preservation of our culture and heritage. He added that our leaders should create, think and do something for the society and not blindly follow everything.

The speaker said that people are looking for solutions to their problems now. He said that India is a developing country and every citizen should have a taste of development. Mipham said that when we have tasted everything only then we can come up with solutions to our problems. He said that it’s difficult to find abrupt solutions but the changes will gradually come. He appreciated the foreigners for helping the Ladakhis in preservation of their culture. He said the foreigners have better knowledge about the Ladakhi culture and the region than the locals. He requested the foreigners to share their knowledge with the Ladakhis.

Mipham said that Ladakhis have seen sudden changes. He said that Ladakhis used to ride horses, donkeys and horses, and then suddenly started travelling in aeroplanes. He said this sudden transformation has left a huge void behind. The younger generation should do everything practically instead of wasting time on lectures. He said that a number of seminars are organised but the outcome from such seminars are negligible. He should Ladakhis should rise above duplication and become a star in their own language, music and dance. Only when we develop the taste for development and feel pride in our culture then will we be able to find solutions to our problems.

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