Reform-The Way Forward!

Jul 29th, 2011 | By | Category: Development and Climate Change, India, Information and Communication, M-20 CAMPAIGN, Women, Youth Speak

Shalini Dhyani: The Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) is home to 40 million people, which is 3.8% of the total population of India. Since independence, the system of democratic governance ushered in new institutional arrangements with some specific arrangements to protect and maintain socio-cultural identities of the mountain societies in the Indian Himalayan Region.

A wide spectrum of biophysical gradients, when superimposed with socio-cultural diversity, makes the IHR all the more heterogeneous, necessitating formulation of location specific developmental plans as well as finding solutions to the local problems. The mountain states of India face certain peculiar problems inhibiting the process of development. On account of the difficult terrain, variable agro-climatic conditions, distinct socio-cultural features, these mountain areas have remained backward.

The Action Plan for Himalayas reflects a collation of all concepts and perceptions converging in to mountain development. It is all more creditable in the sense that the various streams of thoughts emphasizes on upstream-downstream linkages, mainstreaming several consolidated concepts, adoption of integrated view of ecological, economic and sociological aspects. The emphasis on the active participation of hill women in the fulfillment of their basic needs in terms of food, fuel and fodder, are some concepts and impressions which all were certainly ahead of time.

At present there are many national, regional and international institutions those are working in different areas and issues of Himalayan region.

If we first take the international institutions we see that most of them are working on a multidisciplinary approach in studying the issues and finding appropriate solutions for them by using the database generated by themselves or national institutions or government line agencies. There approach to study the issues is more global or holistic than local or site specific. But at the same time there knowledge on various ecosystem functions and sustainable development issues of mountain ecosystem in Himalayan region is up to date, very competitive, and so many new issues are inclusive of their database. For example: gender aspects, climate change, environmental economics, payment of ecosystem services, conflicts and conflict resolution etc. are well considered, while working on issues that might be old with their history but the approach to solve them by these international institutions is very new.

Now taking national level organizations and institutions and discussing their knowledge, I find it to be very traditional to a certain extent. Though, there are many professionals working in these institutions trying to adopt contemporary science and approaches to solve and work on issues relevant to ecology and sustainable development in mountain ecosystems of Himalayan region. However, the developed and available database in these institutions on many issues is not updated, so professional here mostly rely on old database, and hence, solutions too are also not very appropriate leading to various conflicts and failures.

It is generally observed that, the knowledge available in these institutions and organizations on Himalayan ecology and sustainable development is limited to reports, research papers and journals. The problem is that, these institutions are also not able to communicate them for the benefit of people in the region, and they become dust ridden documents in libraries, to which generally no one has easy access.

Therefore, the new research, science, ideas and solutions even if happen to come out from many of these institutions, do not reach to those, for whom they are supposed to.

In my view there is an urgent need for over hauling of institutional functioning and processes at these institutions /organizations in the way they work. There is also a serious need to provide in time opportunity to young brains, so that instead of brain drain due to lack of opportunity an adequate knowledge on these issues can be developed. As it is evident that, lack of database on many aspects is leading to inappropriate or unclear research and a very direct example is climate change impact, vulnerability, adaptation and mitigation, while many such examples could be seen.

Now coming to various NGOs that work in Himalayan region we find there are just limited number of NGO that are serious with their responsibility of work. But for sure there are many those have taken the lead with their Knowledge on Ecology and Sustainable Development on Mountain Ecosystem in Himalayan region!

Youth Leaders SpeakAuthor: Shalini Dhyani has written this article for Climate Himalaya Initiative’s Youth Leaders Speak Column. Shalini’s research focus is on understanding the functioning of mountain ecosystem in context to livelihood and women.

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


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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One Comment to “Reform-The Way Forward!”

  1. Pabitra says:

    Interesting post. One key reason why the plans and ideas do not reach the people for whom they are proposed is our arcane knowledge dissemination processes. In order for a plan to be really effective and meaningful for the people, they need to be inclusive, not exclusive.
    Also, Indian elite are too global to be making sense for our village people. We need to speak in the language, about contexts and in manners acceptable for them.
    Look forward to further reading.

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