Ladakh at a Crossroads

Abstract of the Presentation: India's northernmost region, Ladakh, is currently witnessing the biggest agitations in its history. Thousands of people have gathered in the towns of Leh and Kargil, several times since last year, to demand statehood, 6th Schedule status under the Constitution, and job guarantees. In 2019 it was granted Union Territory status, which had been a long-standing demand of the people of Leh district; but for them and for the residents of Kargil district, this status has actually brought more alienation and fears than benefits. 
What are the prospects of generating well-being for a region that has such unique ecological and cultural characteristics, is a critical political boundary for India, and has enormous commercial potential that are being eyed by corporates? How can holistic transformation, that combines political, ecological, economic, and socio-cultural spheres of life and their intersections, be attempted? What initiatives already exist that can point in this direction, and what are the challenges? 

Using the framework of eco-swaraj or radical ecological democracy, this presentation will tackle the above issues, pointing to possibilities and solutions, but also to further questions that need to be asked. 

About the speaker: Ashish Kothari
Founder-member, Kalpavriksh; member, many people’s movements. Taught, Indian Institute of Public Administration; coordinated India’s National Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan, served on boards of Greenpeace International & India, ICCA Consortium; judge on International Tribunal on Rights of Nature. Helps coordinate Vikalp Sangam (, Global Tapestry of Alternatives (, & Radical Ecological Democracy ( Co-author/co-editor, Churning the Earth, Alternative Futures, and Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary