Ladakh is larger than Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim, among the Indian Himalayan states. It holds the distinction of being the largest state in the Indian Himalayas, surpassing even Arunachal Pradesh when considering the Pakistan-occupied part of Ladakh in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Positioned as the solitary complete state within the Indian Trans-Himalayan region, it exists as a unique biogeographic zone classified as 1A and 1B in the Indian Himalayas. Ladakh potentially holds the global title for the highest-altitude state, with an elevation range spanning from 2700 to 8000 meters. As the singular Trans-Himalayan state, Ladakh bears unique geographical significance. In terms of area, Ladakh exceeds the size of states like Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Kerala, Goa, and most northeastern states, and stands as the largest among all Union Territories of India.
The request for Ladakh’s statehood, inclusion in the sixth schedule, and a separate Lok Sabha seat for the Leh and Kargil districts is a just and legitimate demand. Moreover, Ladakh’s ecological fragility hosts numerous endangered species of plants and animals. According to United Nations studies, an indigenous language dies every two weeks.
Most languages spoken in Ladakh, such as Purki, Lehskat, Balti, Sheena, Brokskath, Zanaskari, and Changskath, are listed as endangered in UNESCO’s catalogue of endangered languages. Ladakh is the dwelling place of eight endangered tribes: Purik pa, Balti, Beda, Bot (or Boto), Brokpa (or Drokpa, Dard, Shin), Changpa, Garra, and Mon.
In the presence of China and Pakistan in a hostile context, the preservation of Ladakh’s cultural landscape and ethnicity holds significant strategic importance in fostering peace and prosperity within this expansive and inherently beautiful region. Historically, the Ladakhi community has made substantial contributions to the country on numerous occasions.
(The views expressed by the Author are his own)
- December 20, 2022
- October 1, 2022