Uphill march: Digital tech for the welfare of people in the mountains

By: |
September 06, 2021 2:00 AM

Therefore it is important to consider the possibilities of application of digital technology to address some of the challenges faced and enhance the quality of living in these terrains.

Uma Ganesh PortraitUma Ganesh Portrait

India’s border areas and particularly the mountainous region face hardships due to rough terrains, inclement weather, high altitude severities, lack of electricity and connectivity as well as unpredictability due to border skirmishes. Therefore it is important to consider the possibilities of application of digital technology to address some of the challenges faced and enhance the quality of living in these terrains.

Predicting earth quakes, rainfall or landslides, water capacities, supporting sustainable farming and livelihood techniques are some of the areas where research has already been taking place. Building integrated models in these areas with deep learning, robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) would help the local population to adapt quicker to the emerging scenarios. Digital applications need to be developed to meet the specific requirements of the communities of the hilly regions, if not, customised to the individuals, to begin with.

Farming communities which grow apricots, apples and tomatoes during the brief summer periods could be supported with higher returns for enabling sellers’ price discovery options by getting connected with a wider range of buyers, timely logistics as well as storage assistance through digital interventions. By tracking the footfalls of tourists through IoT and predictive analytics, it should also be possible to arrive at the graded facilities required to be created in existing tourist sites or open up new sites for tourists or limit admissions.

Another area where digital technology can make a huge contribution is in the area of preservation of ancient texts, paintings, literature, music, folk arts and scriptures at the Buddhist monasteries. By training the local youth in digital technologies, local employment opportunities would get created leading to digitisation of content for posterity, creating larger awareness about the rich heritage as well as in facilitating research and collaboration amongst universities, monasteries and other stakeholders.

Digitalisation could bring the people in the hilly regions and their culture closer to the rest of India and thus create curiosity amongst them leading to further increase the potential for tourism and engagement with people from the mountainous regions.

Identifying the prioritised areas for digital interventions and working towards developing the applications would be successful only through active collaboration with local partners. Sonam Wangchuk, for instance, has demonstrated through his alternate school and Himalayan Alternative Learning Institution how to use commonly available tools, hereditary knowledge and the limited resources in smart ways to design solutions to meet the needs of the local people. Tsezin Angmo has pioneered responsible tourism in Ladakh and such initiatives with further digital interventions could expand on the tourism possibilities. Tashi Namgyal is another example of a bright Ladhaki who went to Banaras Hindu University to learn fine arts and has set up a studio in Leh to promote Ladakhi art and culture through his works. The initiative for digital interventions should involve partnerships with such institutions and people.

The writer is executive chairperson, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company

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