Ladakh Innovator, Sonam Wangchuk Pledges Nearly Rs 1 Crore Rolex Award Money Towards Setting Up Alternative University

Ladakh Innovator, Sonam Wangchuk has pledged the nearly Rs 1 Crore Rolex Award Money he has won, towards setting up an Alternative University

Says the humble Sonam Wangchuk “I won the Rolex Award for Enterprise 2016 on 15 Nov 2016 at a ceremony held in the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood, USA. Ice Stupa project was selected by Rolex from 2,322 applications from people of 144 nationalities”.

The ceremony was attended by hundreds of luminaries, leading scientists, environmentalists and business people. The awards were presented by Filmmaker James Cameron, actors Chris Pine, Don Cheadle, Bridgid Coulter, Maria Bello and Michelle Monaghan among others.

Says Wangchuk “And now, coinciding with the Rolex award, we are preparing to launch our most ambitious project till date – Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL), an alternative university for mountain development which will use our 25 years experience of hands-on practical education at SECMOL school and scale it up for higher education at international level. HIAL will be a collaboration between SECMOL, The Phyang village & monastery and the Ladakh Hill Council Government. It will be established on a 200 acre desert land provided by the Ladakh Hill Council Government and will eventually engage up to 5,000 youths to find solutions to the challenges faced by mountain people; especially in education, culture and environment (climate change)!

Sure setting up an international University is an ambitious plan! While the target for the first phase is roughly USD 150 crore (USD 20 million), we plan to raise Rs. 15 crore (USD 2 million) to kick start the first phase. We hope to raise this through a combination of crowd funding and direct corporate (CSR) and institutional support.

On my part I have decided to donate the award money of roughly One crore rupees towards this university, to quickly begin the greening of desert while funds for construction, etc. start flowing in. Further we have already received commitments of Rs. One crore rupees each from few generous individuals. And it is not just money, we are receiving significant contribution in kind from various individuals and organizations which has allowed us to do surveys, mappings etc. of the area” he says.

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Suhana Bhatia
Suhana Bhatia
Features Editor