SRI NAGAR: Sonam Wangchuk, a Ladakhi engineer, innovator and education reformist who was among two Indians declared winners of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award, said it was recognition of the challenges faced by minorities in the mountains.
Talking to TNIE, Wangchuk said, “I think it (the award) is good for mountains minorities who have different needs. It is recognition of their struggles to make things like education, culture and environment work.”
Hailing from Leh, the 51-year-old who was the inspiration for Aamir Khan’s character in the movie 3 Idiots, won the award for his contribution in harnessing nature, culture and education for community progress.
“A few days ago, I received a call from the Philippines to tell me that they were going to confer on me the Ramon Magsaysay Award, for working to improve lives of mountain minorities. Apparently they had done a year-long research on me already, including visits to Ladakh. And this morning they formally announced it in Manila,” Wangchuk said in a Facebook post.
“I honestly don’t feel I deserve it alone. It belongs to every student, every teacher, every leader and every dreamer in Ladakh. So I congratulate and thank each and every Ladakhi alive, and even our ancestors who taught us to care for nature and are for others before self. I was only humbly trying to apply these learnings
Wangchuk said it was an occasion to express gratitude to the whole nation and world for understanding that mountain minorities are not only ethnic and linguistic minorities but also environmental, educational and technological minorities, where readymade solutions and policies from the plains don’t even work.
“I hope this award will boost our work of engaging mountain youth in finding indigenous solutions to our problems and help our efforts to set up the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh, an alternative university for mountain development in Phyang Valley,” he added.