Real life ‘3 Idiots’ hero on a ‘Climate Fast', but why?
Sonam Wangchuk, an innovator and an engineer, whose personality inspired the fictional character of Phunsukh Wangdu in Aamir Khan's film '3 Idiots', is on a five-day "climate fast" demanding the government to protect Ladakh, where rapid expansion of industries threatening its unique ecosystem.
Wangchuk began his five-day climate fast on January 26 to attract the central government's attention to the demands of Ladakh's people.
Before he launched the fast, he said that he would go on a five-day 'Climate Fast' at 18,000ft-high Khardungla pass, where the temperature falls to -40°C, reports Mint.
Good morning world!
Starting 3rd day of #ClimateFast outdoors, under heavy police presence...
don't worry it's all for my 'safety'
Thanks for all ur support. #SaveLadakh @AmitShah @narendramodi @UNFCCC @UNEP @LeoDiCaprio pic.twitter.com/4HNxdI9TPq
— Sonam Wangchuk (@Wangchuk66) January 28, 2023
On Saturday, Wangchuk claimed that he had been placed under house arrest at Himalayan Institute of Alternative Ladakh, where he serves as a director, and denied entry by the police to Khardung La.
Why the "climate fast"?
According to media reports, on 23 January, Wangchuk sent an SOS to Indian Prime Minister Modi, making an appeal to the PM to take action since "all is not well in Ladakh".
He also announced the "climate fast" demanding protection for Ladakh, an Indian Union Territory.
He demanded to include Ladakh as an autonomous region under the sixth schedule of the Constitution. He also demanded environmental protection from unchecked industrial and commercial expansion in the Union Territory. He said environmental protection is of utmost importance in Ladakh as two-thirds of the glaciers in the region are on the verge of going extinct. This may cause irreversible damage to the ecosystem of Ladakh affecting millions, he claimed. Wangchuk also expressed concerns over the potential for corporate expansion in Ladakh, which is expected to add to the already severe shortage of resources like water in the territory.
The sixth schedule contains provisions related to the Administration of Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. The Sixth Schedule provides for the administration of certain tribal areas as autonomous entities. The provisions of the sixth schedule are provided under Articles 244(2) and 275(1) of the Indian Constitution.
The Indian constitution requires 50 percent of a region's population to be tribal for the 6th Schedule to apply. Ladakh has over 95 percent tribal population.
Who is Sonam Wangchuk?
Born in 1966, Sonam Wangchuk is a mechanical engineer. He won the Magsaysay Award in 2018.
The Ladakh-based engineer is known for setting up an innovative school, the Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), whose campus runs on solar energy and uses no fossil fuels for cooking, lighting, or heating.
He set up the SECMOL in 1988 with the aim of supporting Ladakhi children and youth, and training students whom the system termed "failures".
In 1994, Wangchuk launched Operation New Hope to bring reforms to the government schools' system. He has also been instrumental in designing low-cost solar-heated buildings made of mud to maintain a formidable temperature in Ladakh winters.