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Life in Ladakh (India): the Changpas of Changthang

Author Affiliations

  • 1Department of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi, Delhi, India
  • 2Department of Economics, Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi, Delhi, India
  • 3Department of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi, Delhi, India

Int. Res. J. Social Sci., Volume 9, Issue (2), Pages 57-63, April,14 (2020)


The Changpas are the nomadic pastoral communities living in the Changthang plains of Ladakh. With limited agriculture, their lives rely majorly on livestock farming. The Pashmina goats are prime among these and unique to the region. The world-famous Pashmina wool and fabric are produced in this region. While Pashmina is an economic occupation, it is also the name of a cultural identity of the region. However, the socio-economic conditions in these plains do not allow a very high quality of life. The development activities in Ladakh have been centered around Leh and Kargil only. The plains in the other parts of Ladakh have remained mostly underdeveloped. Harsh climatic conditions, poor quality of life and uncertainties associated with pastoralism are some of the major factors that have resulted in large scale migration among the young generation of the Changpas. This has put an old sustainable socio-economic and ecological system under threat. Major development initiatives are required along with scientific methods of saving the grazing land and planning sustainable agriculture in the region. This paper studies the lives of the Pashmina growing Changpa community of the Changthang plains in order to understand the nature and causes of their socio-economic backwardness, pattern of pastoralism and trends of migration that have affected the sustainability of life in the region.


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