Secmol founder Sonam Wangchuk wins Magasaysay Award

An engineering graduate from NIT Srinagar, Sonam Wangchuk initiated local experiments with local conditions to teach students

Photo couresy: social media
Photo couresy: social media
user

NHS Bureau

The innovator from Leh and one of the winners of this year’s Ramon Magasaysay Award, one of the two from India, Sonam Wangchuk set up the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (Secmol) way back in 1988. An engineering graduate from NIT - Srinagar, Wangchuk initiated local experiments with local conditions to teach students.

The idea was to do away with ‘alien knowledge’. Secmol designed and helped in building solar-heated eco-friendly buildings in regions like Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim so that even in -30 degree celsius the solar-powered school could keep the students warm.

Wangchuk invented and built a prototype of an artificial glacier called the ‘Ice Stupa’ that could store stream waters during the winters in the form of giant ice cones and release the stored water during late spring as they start melting which the farmers could use for agricultural purposes. In 2016, Wangchuk initiated a project called FarmStays Ladakh, which provides tourists to stay with local families of Ladakh, run by mothers and middle-aged women. The project was officially inaugurated by His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche on 18 June 2016.

Wangchuk invented and built a prototype of an artificial glacier called the ‘Ice Stupa’ that could store stream waters during the winters in the form of giant ice cones and release the stored water during late spring as they start melting which the farmers could use for agricultural purposes

He is currently setting up the ₹150 crore Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL) in the Phyang Valley, 14 Km from Leh. Sonam Wangchuk posted on his Facebook wall the following message: “Few days ago, I received an unknown 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 minorities in the mountains. Apparently, they had done a yearlong research work on me already, including visits to Ladakh. And this morning they formally announced it in Manila!”

“I honestly don’t feel I deserve it alone as an individual! 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 care for others before self. I was only humbly trying to apply these learnings in life.”

“In fact, it is an occasion to express gratitude to the whole nation and the world for understanding that minorities in the mountains face special challenges, they are not only ethnic and linguistic minorities but also environmental, educational and technological minorities, where normal readymade solutions and policies from the plains don’t even work,” he said.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines