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Zanskar, one of the most remote areas in north India, is currently experiencing a slow but steady invasion by the outside world and modernity, resulting in a gradual decline of its unique culture. It is therefore essential that each person inhabiting this region take responsibility to prevent the erosion of such a unique culture, and promote its development as much as possible. With this objective in mind, it is proposed that Peace Ling Centre be constructed in Tongdey village in Zanskar.

Peace Ling Center will be a home for study, research, workshops, lectures, conferences and community service. To preserve the Zanskar culture and environment, we have ten commitments as our main mission. The ten commitments of Peace Ling Center

1. Zanskar glacier

At altitudes of more than 14,000 feet, the severe climate and inhospitable terrain means Zanskar peasants are able to plant and harvest only a single crop each year – wheat, barley and peas are the main crops and these are heavily dependent on the annual melting of the glacier to supply water for irrigation.

Due to global warming, glaciers are melting in every region of the world, putting millions of people at risk from floods, droughts and lack of drinking water. Zanskar is one such region. Zanskar glaciers are extremely important but the vast majority have been retreating and thinning, with accelerated losses in the last decade. Continued widespread melting of glaciers will lead to a water shortage that directly affects Zanskar’s population, its occupations and the country’s ecosystems.

SOLUTIONS

Climate change is already happening, and glaciers in Zanskar are melting so rapidly that we must all play an immediate role to save them. How? Creating artificial glaciers is the best way. In winter the snow fall in Zanskar is high but the snow begins to melt before the farmers plough the fields. Since the snow is widely spread it melts quickly but if it were heaped during winter to create a “glacier”, it will melt more slowly and be ready for use when the time came to sow the fields. Otherwise the precious snowmelt is just wasted.

2. Planting trees

Zanskar receives a lot more snow than Central Ladakh and the mid-winter temperature drops to -40 degrees Centigrade. Winters are long, extending from September to February, and very harsh with heavy snowfalls. It is one of the coldest habitats in the world, so people are totally dependent on fire to keep their houses warm. Zanskar is all desert and wood is very scarce. Nevertheless it is essential for cooking and creating warmth in winter.

SOLUTIONS

It is not that trees do not or cannot grow in Zanskar, so what can we do to grow more of them? First, we could build greenhouses to grow trees near rivers or other places where there is plenty of water. Once the trees are fully grown, they can be then given to communities, villages, monasteries, schools and families who will take over caring for them. They can also be planted and cared for on riversides, near waterfalls and canals or other places where there is plenty of running water.

Trees grown in Zanskar cannot be used for furniture. However, nowadays many houses are being built in Zanskar and all the wood for the furniture for them is transported into the region in large trucks which are heavy polluters. To overcome this, Peace Ling will invite experts to research what kind of trees suitable for furniture manufacture can be grown in Zanskar. Some habitats in the world are as cold and desert-like as Zanskar but still manage to grow enough trees to supply wood for furniture, so this is an area of research for us.

3. Different kinds of vegetables

Usually Zanskar people do not eat much vegetables, even though they are very important for health. Everyone – schools, monasteries, restaurants and villages – needs vegetables, and though many fresh and nutritious kinds are grown in summer, they are not available in markets. Where then do people buy their vegetables? From shops that import vegetables in trucks. Those vegetables are expensive and not fresh when they reach Zanskar and hence not even easily digested by the local people. Furthermore, profits from the sale of those vegetables do not flow back to the people of Zanskar.

SOLUTIONS

Peace Ling Center will grow many kinds of vegetable in greenhouses to sell at Peace Ling market in Padum, the capital of Zanskar. These vegetables will be fresher and cheaper than those transported into the region. This will both reduce the negative effects of importing vegetables and also provide jobs in the Peace Ling greenhouses for people who current travel out of Zanskar to find work in Leh and other areas.

4. Study and meditation

For centuries most of the population of Zanskar have been practising Buddhists. Although they are encouraged to go to teachings, do retreats, meditate and study, not many places or facilities cater for such activities.

SOLUTIONS

Peace Ling will have its own classrooms, classes and meditation huts where people who want to study and meditate will find all the facilities they need to fulfil their wishes.

5. Education movement

Currently most of Zanskar’s youth are studying in monastery or nunnery schools and colleges outside Zanskar – many return to Zanskar in summer for the vacations. However, no institution in Zanskar organizes any educational activities or conferences for them while they are here.

SOLUTIONS

Peace Ling will invite experts in various subjects to give lectures, courses and training for Zanskar youth. Bringing the young people of the region together, the center will endeavour to disseminate knowledge in as many areas as possible – current planning includes Buddhist philosophy, Buddhism and science, meditation, the local language, crafts, the environment, agriculture, planting trees, vegetable culture, health, yoga, sanitation and the best kind of buildings for the world’s coldest places, like Zanskar.

6. Research into Zanskar culture

Throughout the world, students at universities and higher education facilities are required to write theses and dissertations on their particular subjects. The culture and history of Zanskar enter into many of these efforts but because of the remote ruggedness and comparative poverty of the region, students may have difficulty in finding the appropriate facilities to complete their research in Zanskar.

SOLUTIONS

Peace Ling will enter into partnerships with organizations and universities so that students who wish to research the region’s culture, language, history and environment as well as Buddhist philosophy will be able to travel to Zanskar and find the facilities to do so. The center itself will become a research and study hub with all the facilities for writers, researchers and students to stay, use the library, study the environment and complete their projects.

7. Peace Ling Center production

As Zanskar enters into the modern age, many shops have sprung up and more and more are being built each year. All the shops stock products from outside the region that have been packaged in plastic which, when discarded, litters everywhere in Zanskar – fields, rivers, water canals, roads and mountains. In the name of business, more and more outside people are visiting or immigrating to Zanskar and in the three-month summer season big trucks and other vehicles run to and from the region continuously, polluting as they go. There are clear signs that factory products are completely replacing local products, which are now almost non-existent in Zanskar shops.

SOLUTIONS

To stop this entirely unnecessary takeover and its disadvantages and to produce more positive energy, Peace Ling Center is planning to create its own production base using local resources to help the Zanskari farmers. Buying local products like butter, cheese, wheat, barley, milk, peas, different kind of herbs, spices, wool, woollen articles and making different kind of products like spicy sauces, local jams, juices etc, Peace Ling will sell them in the Peace Ling market in Padum. People will thus have more local products to choose from and can consume more local food that is cheaper and better for health. This will also help farmers increase their income and self-reliance and could assist locals decide what they should adopt or reject from outsiders.

8. Peace Ling Restaurant

Visit any eating place in Padum and order local food and you will invariably be told that the restaurant doesn’t serve such food. Many visitors want to taste the local cuisine but can’t find anywhere that serves it.

SOLUTIONS

Peace Ling Center will run a restaurant together with Peace Ling market in Padum serving all kinds of local foods. This will benefit Zanskaris as the restaurant will have to buy everything locally thus helping farmers and also promoting the local cuisine.

9. Museum of Zanskar

Every part of the world has its own museum to show the world its culture, history and way of life. So, too, should Zanskar be able to display its unique culture and history.

SOLUTIONS

Currently old religious paintings, statues and very old manuscripts are kept in boxes or heaped up in dank and dusty rooms. To show respect, these things should be taken out and displayed for people to see. Peace Ling Center will build a museum to let people know everything about Zanskar, from its ancient artifacts to its wild life, from its monasteries to its musical instruments.

10. Pollution

Modern factory products are reaching Zanskar fast and in great quantities resulting in plastic, broken glass and used batteries lying in waste everywhere. People go where there is water and grass, camp, enjoy wine and break bottles. Animals go to the same place to graze while children find discarded batteries and put them in their mouths out of curiosity. In summer many people from India come to Zanskar to work on road construction. They camp near the river and leave all their waste behind. Then after winter, when the snow melts, the waste is washed into the rivers. People and animals are drinking river water totally contaminated because of all the waste. It is very harmful and yet who cares? Pollution has become a major problem in Zanskar. In ancient times the environment in Zanskar was totally clean. That didn’t mean people were any more careful of their waste, it meant rather that packaged products had not been introduced into Zanskar. Nowadays because of the ease of transportation and people’s surrender to modern products, Zanskar’s environment has become massively polluted. With no waste treatment facility, no one is taking the effort to care or educate the people about waste disposal.

SOLUTIONS

Peace Ling Center will work to clean up Zanskar. It will educate people about collecting and recycling waste and taking care of the environment – as well as spell out the dangers of neglecting it.

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