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Ladakhi tribe known for liberal customs struggling to preserve cultural legacy

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Jan 20: A tribe of Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region known for its liberal customs and ornate costumes is struggling to keep its vibrant cultural legacy alive and has requested the central government to make serious interventions.

The rich heritage of the Dard Aryans — believed to be the original descendants of “pure Aryan race” — is under threat due to rapid mordenisation, migration and religious conversion, experts say.

The Dard Aryans inhabit Dha, Hanu, Beema, Darchik and Garkone villages in Leh and Kargil districts. The villages are together called the Aryan valley.

 

The people of this region are completely different from those in other parts of Ladakh. They have unique physical features, social life, ethnic culture, and language. They consume the milk and meat of goat and sheep only and follow the solar calendar for festivals and agricultural activities, the experts say.

Many researchers believe that the “Aryans of Ladakh” or the “Brokpas” were part of Alexander’s army and had come to the region over 2,000 years ago, an official of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) says.

The tribe is considered “threatened” due to their depleting numbers, which, at present, is around 4,000. They are mainly dependent on agriculture and are “educationally and economically backward”, he says.

The Dard Aryans do not document their history and they have carried forward their cultural legacy orally. Most of them have embraced Islam or Buddhism and modernisation has had a negative impact on their traditions, he claims.

Virendra Bangroo, a IGNCA scholar who has conducted extensive research on the tribe, says “Dard” is derived from a Sanskrit word, “Daradas”, which means people who live on hillsides.
“The community prohibits marriage with outsiders to keep the gene pool intact. Of late, the Dard men have been migrating to other parts of the region (in search of livelihood) and marrying outside the tribe,” he says.
The tribe has been struggling to find a balance between modernity and traditional values, Bangroo says.
Members of the tribe participating in a six-day festival, ‘Arya Utsav’, here say the tribe follows liberal customs and kissing in the public is considered normal.
Many people also believe the tribe indulges in the practices of polygamy and polyandry, but the members say such customs are a rarity now.
The community members claim there are only three high schools in their villages and very limited resources of livelihood — mainly because of the harsh weather and difficult terrain. As such, they have no option but to migrate to cities for higher education and employment.
To deal with the problem, they say the government should set up a tribal hostel in the region and declare the Aryan valley a heritage village to boost tourism.
A delegation of the Dard Aryans also submitted a charter of demands to Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Sudarshan Bhagat on Friday.
“So far, the government has not been able to anything for the Dard Aryans. Its policies and programmes have failed to reach them. People in the mainland are generally oblivious to the tribe,” Bangroo rues.


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Kashmir

Coming up of new parties, alliances dangerous for Kashmir: Experts

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, Jun 19: The coming up of new political parties and alliances ahead of assembly polls can be dangerous for Kashmir as it will lead to the fractured mandate, thereby favouring BJP, experts claim.

On Tuesday former bureaucrat Shah Faesal and independent legislator from Langate Er Abdul Rasheed announced “Peoples United Front” for upcoming assembly polls.

Political pundits, however, believe that the fractured mandate led by such alliances in the upcoming assembly polls was aimed to divide Kashmiris.

 

“It is a very dangerous approach and Kashmiris should not allow the fractured mandate. Those who care about Kashmir should support one party of unit instead of paving way for fractured mandate due to these alliances,” said noted academician and an expert in politics, Sidiq Wahid.

The formation of new political alliances, he said, was a “policy of Government of India for a decade to divide Kashmiris.”

 “I really feel that this new so-called alliance that has been formed is mudding the waters,” Wahid said.

Another expert in politics, Prof Gul Mohammad Wani, said the suspicions and doubts among people will intensify when centres rule is extends its rule to the state.

“Even after holding Panchayat, Municipal election or parliamentary polls either, the government doesn’t seem to be in a mood to hold assembly election in the state as of now,” he said.

Wani however said the emergence of new alliances could be due to failures by the political parties “to allow internal democracy in the state.”

“Mostly leaders or new groups emerge or come out of the existing political parties under such circumstances,” he said.

Wani said that the existing political parties including NC, PDP and Congress require increasing ideological and political space to build credible leadership.

Soon after the formation of new PUF, former chief minister and National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah said the alliance was aimed to divide voters in Kashmir.

He questioned about lack of such alliances in Jammu or Ladakh regions of the state. 

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Kashmir

Srinagar, Sonawari, Awantipora prone to floods: Study

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, June 19: Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed abrupt changes in climate over the years. According to a disaster management report, 13 districts in J&K, out of 100 districts in India, have been identified as ‘multi-hazard districts’.

“Majority areas of the valley, especially Sonawari, Awantipora and Srinagar, along with parts of Jammu are prone to floods. Upper catchments of all the tributaries of the Jhelum, Indus, Chenab and Tawi rivers are prone to flash floods,” the report said. All these areas were worst hit by September-2014 floods and are prone to floods.

While the recent study says that out of the 12 states, Assam, Mizoram and Jammu & Kashmir are extremely vulnerable to global warming.

 

“Based on this assessment, the vulnerability index is found to be the highest for Assam (0.72) and Mizoram (0.71), followed by Jammu and Kashmir (0.62), Manipur (0.59), Meghalaya and West Bengal (both 0.58), Nagaland (0.57), Himachal Pradesh and Tripura (0.51 both), Arunachal Pradesh (0.47) and Uttarakhand (0.45). Sikkim is the least vulnerable state with the index being 0.42,” the study says.

It says that, “Several drivers of vulnerability are evident for the state of J&K. These include, in the order of significance, least road density, no area under crop insurance, low area under forests per 1,000 rural households, high percentage of marginal farmers, low percentage area under horticulture crops, low livestock to human ratio and low percentage of women in the overall workforce.”

The study says that climate change is already occurring and impacting natural ecosystems and human societies.

It says, “To reduce these uncertainties and plan towards sustainable development it is essential to adopt evidence based adaptation planning in IHR. This requires an in-depth understanding of the key risks and vulnerabilities derived from scientific assessments.”

The study has been authored by IIT Guwahati Anamika Barua Associate Professor Deptt. of Humanities and Social Science Principal Investigator Rupam Bhaduri Research Scholar Centre for the Environment Vishaka Gulati Research Scholar Deptt. of Humanities and Social Sciences IIT Mandi Shyamasree Dasgupta Assistant Professor School of Humanities and Social Sciences Co – Principal Investigator Kritishnu Sanyal Project Associate School of Humanities and Social Sciences Mir Khursheed Alam Research Scholar School of Humanities and Social Sciences IISc Bangalore N.H. Ravindranath Professor Centre for Sustainable Technologies (CST) Key Resource Person Indu K Murthy Consultant Scientist Centre for Sustainable Technologies Tashina Esteves Research Associate Jagmohan Sharma Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Forest Conservation) Government of Karnataka.

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Kashmir

Massive reshuffle in police, civil admin likely after June 27

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, Jun 19: A massive reshuffle in civil and police administration is likely to be ordered anytime after June 27 when the ongoing “Back to village” program launched by Governor’s administration across Jammu and Kashmir will come to an end.

Authoritative sources said that exercise for a massive reshuffle in civil and police administration has been set into motion with the proposals being processed for transfer of senior IAS and IPS officers holding key positions in the state administration. The proposals for deputation of several senior IAS and IPS officers and return of some others from central deputation to Jammu and Kashmir government have been set into motion.

In the likely reshuffle in civil and police administration several administrative secretaries are likely to be relieved of the additional charge of some key departments which they are overseeing presently in addition to their own duties.

 

The reshuffle could be ordered phase wise to dispel the impression about the working of some non-performing officers presently holding key positions as directors of some key departments and deputy commissioners of districts in all the three regions Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh.

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