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28 Feb 2017

Globalisation in the Himalayas- Mahendra P.Lama

Mahendra P Lama, SNS, 27 February 2017: Globalisation is like boarding a flight. Once you board it, you cannot get off until you reach the designated destination. The only difference is that, when we board the flight, we know where we are headed. In the case of globalisation, we do not know the destination, its climate, its features, or its surroundings.
This is where the uncertainty and fear of globalisation stem from, and this is why it is an issue of debate. For us the people of the Himalayas — the journey towards globalisation is replete with uncertainty and vulnerability.
The people in these mountainous regions have now started feeling the adverse effects of globalisation. With the steady disappearance of indigenous seeds, genetic diversity is eroding and food culture is steadily moving towards what is available in Delhi, Paris and Shanghai. Additionally, traditional dialects and folk languages are being used less and less. As the agents of globalisation infiltrate mountainous areas, the availability of natural resources and practices of sustainability that have prevailed for generations are being sidelined.
The popularity of folk music and traditional literature has been rendered negligible, and families and societies are getting fragmented. Time-honoured games and unique cultural activities that used to be undertaken for leisure are now being replaced by the internet, iPads and cell-phones.
The younger generations have started to neglect the older generation who were once regard-ed as traditional keepers of wisdom, and wishes and aspirations have started boiling down to consumerism with increasing importance accorded to things like cars and concrete buildings, which were rare in the mountain regions 40 years ago. The negative impact of globalisation is felt at every step, yet we ignore it in the name of emulating the global world and going global.
Harnessing the opportunities created by globalisation is a challenge. One of the major opportunities is communication technology. Perhaps we can use this technology to generate knowledge and conserve traditional wisdom. This is an aspect of globalism that can be used to our advantage, in comparison to more debatable global products such as pizzas, Levis jeans, Samsung products and Coke.
In keeping with global trends, youth from these mountainous regions are also fashion conscious. They love to undertake fashion-related adventures, and they adore fashion related goods and services.
They know what is the latest in the world of fashion whether it be in Harajuku in Japan, or Times Square in USA.
Yet one important question presents itself:How do these youths know about the latest fashion trends and how do they adopt it so efficiently and how do they adopt it sufficiently and with so much pizzazz?
What are the channels and areas instruments that transmit the essence of fashion from such distant places to the rugged hills of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling and Pokhara?
Perhaps these same channels and instruments could be used to transfer and disseminate knowledge and education for the academic development of our youth. Could this transmission mechanism be adopted in classrooms and other public spaces? Should this means of diffusion be adopted, we could trigger the more welcome advent of global and academically, knowledge as opposed to the current "cultural Silt invasion" that is occurring as a result of globalisation.
The entire Himalayan region is a biodiversity hotspot. The fact that the world is agog with "herbal," "organic" and "ethnic" products could be used to the advantage of those who live in the mountainous regions if they can process natural resources into herbal medicines. This will enhance and intensify the usage of these resources.
This could be done by bringing the traditional knowledge and native wisdom of faith healers such as Dhami, Jhankri, Phendengba, Bonbo of Nepali, Pow, Nejum of Bhutia and Bumthing in Lepcha communities to an institutionalized forum within the ambit of a well-designed scientific framework. Today all these people are scattered throughout the region. They lack confidence in bringing their traditional knowledge and intellectual resources to the public domain, and also fear pilferage and tampering by agencies for commercial use.
However, this rich intellectual heritage has been frittered away, either by petty agencies and multinational companies, or is badly diminished because of the death of these faith healers. Universities in the mountain areas have to provide critical space to faith healers so that they can propagate their practices at the national and global levels.
Another equally attractive venture would be to link holistic natural heath management with mountain tourism. A place like Hakone in Japan colorfully blends tradition with tourism through the pro¬motion of "onsen" (hot water spring) as a part of holistic natural health. They generate income, make people aware about naturopathy, sell the Japanese traditional system globally, and conserve natural resources prudently.
Sikkim, Darjeeling, Bhutan and Nepal could do the same thing with traditional, locally available resources and utilise them.

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