Ladakh – media’s Gen-X

IN Regional Media | 23/12/2010
"It is really essential that we build a Media Centre there and start training young people from Ladakh to become journalists."
NUPUR BASU talks to fellowship winners who say there are no home-grown journalists from that region. Pix: The fellowship winners.
"For two full days after the flash floods hit Ladakh killing a few hundred and rendering thousands homeless ,there was virtually a media blackout...the reason for this was because Ladakh does not have any homegrown journalists and those from the plains took 48 hours to reach there .... what if in those 48 hours China had just moved in and taken us over ?!" asks 23- year-old, Stanzin Kunzang Angmo pertinently. Stanzin ,a young woman from Ladakh posed this counter question to me when asked about the importance of mentoring journalists in Leh-Ladakh.
 
"It is really essential that we build a Media Centre there and start training young people from Ladakh to become journalists" Stanzin stressed soon after winning the Sanjoy Ghose Ladakh Women Awards on Charkha Founders Day in Delhi this week. Describing Ladakh as a land of "endless discovery" Stanzin who is doing her MA in History from Jammu University presently said she wanted to express herself about the socio-political changes that she is witnessing in Ladakh’s society. "I want to talk about the caste system that prevails there which continues to divide our society and also the nepotism that we are seeing all around us – it is difficult to get a job unless you know someone some official or the other and the absence of media ensures that all this goes unexposed in places like Leh"
 
Stanzin was one of the three women from Ladakh who was a recipient of these  awards which are fellowships, along with differently - abled Ladakhi writer Mohd Iqbal who was selected for the Special Writers Award. Accepting the award in his wheelchair Iqbal underlined the importance of media –"Media is one medium through which we can talk of people on the margins from far-off places like Ladakh and even beyond Ladakh and bring their voices right here to the Centre- no other medium can do this – I will write and report on these marginalised people for Charkha". Iqbal will be writing a piece on environmental degradation in Ladakh and how it is affecting the lives of poor people from Leh and Ladakh.
 
Another awardee Kunzes Dolma said that it was a pity that issues on Ladakh were almost absent in the mainstream media as journalists from the plains only come up to report when some disaster strikes like the recent flash floods."We need our own tribe of journalists there in Leh and Ladakh that can tell the stories from there to the rest of the country – right now the only stories you get are that "Ladakh is a very peaceful place and that Ladakh is a land of smiling people !"..there are genuine problems before the people of Ladakh which need media attention"remarked Dolma, a young woman from Ladakh who will explore stories on education and culture through the award granted to her. Stanzin Angmo, the third woman awardee will also be doing a journalistic project on education in Ladakh. She was equally passionate about the need for good media in her region – "After all we all know that good media can definitely result in good development".
 
Ladakh’s record of media is so far extremely patchy, at least one publication which ran for a while has shut down, so there is virtually no homegrown media at present. All the awardees were unanimous in asking for a Media Centre in Leh which could train local journalists.
 
Three young women ,all under the age of 25 ,and a young man who will not allow his disability to get in the way of his passion for writing, gave the audience gathered at the Awards Ceremony a ray of hope about what these young minds could do in the future for journalism from Ladakh . All they need is that handholding, which, in this case, has been provided by the Charkha Foundation.
 
The Charkha Foundation, a non-profit organisation which works for the marginlaised in remote and rural parts of India was started by the late Sanjoy Ghose. Ghose was a well known social activist who was abducted by ULFA militants in 1997 from Majuli and later killed. The Foundation has in the past awarded media fellowships to women journalists from Jammu and Kashmir to "reflect the voices of those affected by prolonged conflict". The Foundation is now steered by Sanjoy’s father, Shankar Ghose.
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