Land of High Passes
Famous for its picturesque beauty and unique culture, Ladakh is a high altitude cold desert that spans the mountain ranges from Himalayas to Kunlun. Low precipitation, combined with extreme temperatures, makes life in this mountainous region challenging. Ladakh has a population of 2,74,289 people, a majority of which reside in rural areas. HIAL is located in the one of the largest valleys, Phyang, that has a population of about 2,500 people. Most of the land is barren and the entire region relies primarily on the melting waters of the glaciers for agriculture and daily use. Subsistence agriculture and the services sector drive the local economy of Ladakh, with most Ladakhi youth typically employed in army, other government jobs or the tourism sector.
Ladakh’s largest district, Leh, houses only 2 colleges and 1 Industrial Training Institute. The rarely updated curriculum, lack of infrastructure, and the dilapidated condition of these institutions have resulted in limited educational opportunities for the youth; most students pursuing post-graduation and further studies migrate to cities such as Chandigarh and Delhi. Upon returning, they often find that higher education in the mainland has done little to prepare them for the unique challenges of the mountain ecosystems. Hence, the time is ripe for an international institute in Ladakh that enables the youth to find innovative ways to interact with their surroundings and equips them to turn their barriers into assets. Ladakh University was formed last year though it is yet to take off!
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Degrees Celcius, Temperature