By Gurmath Lotos
Ladakh known for its scenic beauty and the peaceful region remains isolated and inaccessible in cold harsh long winters. For more than 6 months of the year, it is disconnected from the rest of the states of the nation. It is the largest Lok Sabha constituency in the country in terms of areas.
People of the region bear lots of trouble during this season. Among the different demand, one of the very basic and important is a demand for a University in Ladakh to handle the higher education crisis.
Absence of university in our own land compels thousands of youths to pursue their higher education in big cities like Delhi, Chandīgarh, Jammu, Bangalore, UP etc. Living away from their families, students face lots of problems and pay a huge amount for accommodation, food, and many other basic needs.
According to Union Grants Commission (UGC) of India, there are more than 700 hundred Universities under the commission, which is mind boggling itself, isn’t it? University has divided into three different status, (a) Central University status, (b) State University status (c) Deemed University status, according to the capacities and requirements.
Jammu and Kashmir State is divided into three regions due to different geological, religious and distinctive cultural identity. The State has more than 7 Universities, including two Central Universities. So the point is that both Jammu and Kashmir regions have numbers of separate universities, but not a single university in Ladakh, what is the reason? University is to generate awareness and idea for dealing with day to day problems and teething troubles faced in the societies and searching the best solution for the crisis.
Education is very expensive for the people of Ladakh as compared to any other region in the country. The majority of parents can’t afford to send their children outside Ladakh due to limited resources and financial constraint. There is dramatic escalating of the percentage of school and college dropouts due to the unavailability of academic institutions in Ladakh and staying and pursuing from outside the region is not affordable for everyone.
Ladakh has been demanding Central University since from very long time. The Gandhian way of political demonstration (non-violence) was also held by the students of Ladakh in Jammu and Delhi. In 2009, Central government granted two Central Universities to each Jammu and Kashmir, whereas, the Ladakh region has been neglected.
Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS) at Choglamsar, Leh, founded by the first Prime Minister of India Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, is also demanding Deem University status more than three decades ago, but somehow did not have the ‘Deemed University’ status. In this institute specific subjects like Sanskrit, Hindi, Bhoti and philosophy are taught and also have an option of Ph.D.courses.
The remarkable point is that the National Assessment Accreditation of Council (NAAC) granted ‘A grade’ to this institute, it means institute is produced suffice output and deserve the Deem University status.
- Stobdan, (Former Ambassador and present senior fellow at Institute for Defense studies& Analyses (IDSA) New Delhi), in his article “A case for Ladakh University” (in Reach Ladakh Bulletin), highlighted some significant scope or potential of Research in Ladakh such as Mountain studies and Climate and Glacier Studies etc. To introduce such courses needs a lot of funds and advanced technology and infrastructures, but at least the government can initially introduced courses like science, humanities and languages to handle the immediate issue.
To study in big cities is a challenge for Ladakhi students, due to the different lifestyle, culture and ethnic identity from mainstream culture. Students studying outside have to struggle a lot. Many a time students are being harassed and abused. All this mental and physical torture is witnessed by the students studying outside.
There are many chances of losing unique cultural identity as many are away from home, which generates non-attachment towards our own culture and finally leads identity crisis. Another chance is to assimilate with other major culture by own will or forcibly by some major groups; the nature of our country’s culture is a fusion of ‘melting pot’ and ‘salad bowl’ multiculturalism. If we have our own University in Ladakh then there is no threat to cultural identity, safe and secure environment for the student, but it is a distant dream.
A good academic system is the first step towards development. So people of Ladakh should strongly demand, the Central University to Ladakh region with one voice. The opening of Central University doesn’t only help in enhancing the education system, but will simultaneously create lots of employment opportunities to the young, educated unemployed and will ultimately assist the development of the region. But the question is when will be the dream of Ladakh come true?
There are three main reasons of not getting University in Ladakh; Firstly, the lack of coordination and cooperation among public and leaders. Secondly, lack of political will or determination among the political leaders of Ladakh. Thirdly, lack of unity among the students of Kargil and Leh. These three things hamper the movement forward. The need of the hour is to forget the ideological and religious differences and seriously ponder over the future of Ladakh.
Unfortunately, we don’t have an exact figure of Ladakhi students studying outside Ladakh, but according to P. Stobdan, more than 30,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students are pursuing different courses and programs outside Ladakh. My point is that how many bulks of the money the student shell out annually for higher education?
An average expenditure of per student is ₹ 50, 000 to 1.3 lakh annually approximately which is a huge sum of money draining from Ladakh every year. If we get University in Ladakh, the billions of rupees would be for utilized for the economic growth and social progress of the region. Thus, the central government should look and take this matter seriously and should grant a Central University to Ladakh so that the cultural diversity and minority rights would be reflected.
The writer, Gurmeth Lotos is an M.Phil. student in Delhi University. You can send you feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org