Lost Himalayas

Jul 28th, 2011 | By | Category: Climatic Changes in Himalayas, Events, M-20 CAMPAIGN, Opinion, Youth Speak

K N VajpaiK N Vajpai: We boast, we host, and we are lost!

It sounds the legacy of mighty Himalaya and its people. Here, agencies seem boasting the urgency and the welfare of mountain ecosystem (!), while people in the region are hosting their dialogues with utmost care, and then they are lost somewhere. The remains of such shows become reports in office files and implementation a nightmare to our extenders and communities

The upcoming Bhutan Summit in Nov 2011 also known as ‘Climate Summit for Living Himalaya’ might have the same fate.

The summit is in context to the urgency of building resilience to buffer the impact of climate change and generate resources for adaptation, capacity building and technology transfer without waiting for any such global agreement in four host South Asian countries. The summit is convened by Governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and India, that will lead to adoption and endorsement of next 10 years climate change adaptation road map to ensure food, water, energy security vis-à-vis maintaining biodiversity for the region. It also mandates financial collaboration in the implementation of road map and creation of a regional expert group to advice government in such actions.

India is given the responsibility of ‘Food Security and Livelihood’ core group meeting and regional consultations. To note, interesting it that, not many people from Indian Himalayan region are aware about such consultation and what road map is going to be prepared at such meeting in New Delhi.

Himalayan Landscape in Bhutan

Image via Wikipedia

Not many existing platforms were used for per-consultations, discussions and knowing the community perceptions, before developing a road-map and agreement for the Ministerial meeting in Thimphu (Bhutan), during November 2011. Of the 11 Indian Mountain states, we didn’t observe any consultation taking place at state level, to know what the people in Western or Eastern Himalayan region think about their food security and livelihood, given that agriculture is not very much practiced in this region due various ecosystem dysfunction, population pressure and climatic vulnerabilities.

The proceedings of the meeting mainly focus on agricultural technologies, while the pressing issue of livelihood didn’t get much attention. However, the present scenario is that, livelihood is among the most important aspects of planning in this region, and the way forward relates to promoting Agro-forestry models, Horticulture, Eco-tourism and wise water use, among others.

The dilemma of Himalayas is that, there is dearth of agencies those work inclusively without boasting themselves. Another concern is that, we host such events without thorough consultative processes, which in real sense require serious considerations. And the third challenge is that we come-up with very superficial road-maps those have no practical meanings.

And, we are lost!


Author: K N Vajpai has written this article for Climate Himalaya‘s Youth Speak Column. A native of Indian mountains, Vajpai is the Convener at Climate Himalaya.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Himalaya group.


Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>

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5 Comments to “Lost Himalayas”

  1. Pabitra says:

    I may be an incorrigible optimist, but I see your concerns as genuine. I have just about started contributing here but I see the lack of comments. That strikes me as strange, because if I understand my fellow countrymen, we are one of the most friendly people on earth capable of engaging in any issue almost instantaneously. Are people afraid or something? Do we need to come down from high horses to make connections?

    Your post provokes thoughts. Thank you.

  2. Chandra Shekhar Silori says:

    When I started reading this note, the first question came to my mind was, what is the basis for preparing such mega events- the very same question, which is there in the following lines- has there been any consultation, dialogues or any other similar participatory approach to know, what is already there (at least in terms of knowledge) and how much sense will it make for what is going to be proposed? November is still away, though not far way, and there should be some kind of peer pressure on opening up discussion or at least some kind of dialogues with the concerned vulnerable groups. As author has said, in the Himalayas, agriculture is not the only sector, which contributes to the livelihood. Forests play an important role and therefore, whatever is proposed for food security, has to keep forestry based occupations in mind.

    Thank you Padibtra for forcing me to write few lines here, and I hope they make sense.

  3. Having seen and lived with the process for now nearly four decades and now kind of back-stopping it from outside all I can say is that the process could be made more consultative, both through the use of modern technology and the conventional way. That such a consultative process is wanting, there is no national forum for the Indian Mountain States to discuss and share their perceptions, experiences, successes and failures, is most eloquently expressed in the directions issued by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh himself to the Planning Commission of India at the NDC level ! The Task Force under the then Secretary Tribal Affairs also realized this and made this main recommendation .

    Even a cursory look at the Draft State Action Plans on Climate Change put on web by a few Himalayan States would prove the point you have made. The very idea of commencing the Indian Mountain States lies in the realization which you have high lighted.

    However, let me also hasten to add, that the past three plus decades have also not gone waste and today mountain people are much more enlightened, competent and capable of taking good care of themselves and their habitat. Ultimately it is they who have to put up with the ‘best of times and the worst of times’.! Workshops and Seminars also serve their purpose and it is entirely up to them who organize them as well as those who are invited to attend them.

    We have a long way to cover but we are on right track. Surely we must not allow those who are responsible to lay back and pass time.

    You are doing a great job and just keep it up.

  4. K N Vajpai says:

    Thank you so much for your very thoughtful and very relevant observation on the article. Much appreciated.

    There is no argument on lead seminars, workshops and meetings those are coming up with something substantial through required various consultative processes. I was wondering that given your work, involvement and knowledge about Himalayan region, you were not part of such a group at Delhi. I wonder that in such close group meetings we’re planning for whole Himalayan region on the issues of water, livelihood and energy as such. I suppose it wasn’t a meeting of ICAR on agriculture technology and gene pool promotion! Where we are heading, I wonder!! Who will flag such anomalies, I sometime dare to!

    Let me take it in this way, CHEA (www.cheaindia.org) organized a seminar on Indian Mountain Initiative (IMI) in May 2011, for IHR-Indian Himalayan region in India, that had four thematic areas of Hydropower, Climate change adaptation, Rural tourism and Community forestry, which was attended by diverse range of people and experts (I suppose over 200), that developed a road map for future actions in Indian Mountains only. While the consultation for preparing 10 years road map for 4 countries (India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan) we called 10 people to sit in ICAR (an Indian agriculture centre) and develop preparatory note for Ministerial Meeting, without consulting various people, groups and available channel within the region! What a road map that will be!!

    It’s about inclusive process! I must suggest that all partners and country government involved in this process of preparation should re-think about the road map and open it up for further consultation! Else, we will really lost!

  5. Dr. R. S. Tolia says:

    I will readily agree with you that our official representatives, wherever they may be ( Govt Ministries, UN Organizations, Inter-Governmental Organizations, Agencies – all manned by Experts and Subject Matter Specialists ) can do with much more consultative processes.
    However, I am quite hopeful that as today as our mountain people are much more enlightened, exposed and net-worked, situation will only improve further. It is very difficult to overcome the cultural mind-set through which one has passed through and moved forward. Our scientists are not a exception and it is always safer to go by the existing rule book !

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