Ancient Futures: Lessons from Ladakh for a Globalizing World
This gripping portrait of the rapidly evolving socioeconomic life of Ladakh - the Western Himalayan land known as "Little Tibet" - offers crucial lessons in sustainable development as its people attempt to balance growth and technology with cultural values. This account moves from the author's first visit in idyllic, nonindustrial Ladakh in 1974 to the present, showing the profound changes as the region was opened to foreign tourists, Western artifacts and technologies, and pressures for economic growth. These changes brought generational conflict, unemployment, inflation, environmental damage, and threats to the traditional way of life.
Appalled at the negative changes, the author helped establish the Ladakh Project (later renamed the International Society for Ecology and Culture) to seek sustainable solutions to preserve cultural values and environmental health, while facilitating the Ladakhis' hunger for modernization. This model undertaking effectively combines educational programs for all social levels with the design, demonstration, and promotion of appropriate technologies such as solar heating and small-scale hydro power.
This examination of how modernization changes the way people live and think challenges us to redefine our concepts of "development" and "progress." More than anything else, Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh stresses the need for the global community to find ways to carry traditional wisdom into the future.