In the high plains of Ladakh, India, lives a community of 16 Kharnak nomadic families, working in the Pashmina wool business for the past generations. Together, they own over 7000 sheep and goat and around 300 yaks, which they graze daily at over 4.700 meters.
To overcome the hardship of daily life in such an isolated place combined with the sacrifices the nomads have to make every year to keep their livestock alive and healthy, this trans-generational community needs to be committed to work closely together. The interdependency of the nomads with their livestock defines their sustainable lifestyle, which is intimately related with nature and forms a perfect but fragile circle that requires a lot of effort and dedication to make it work.
The Pashmina wool trade is undoubtedly an important business in the region. Although sold at very high prices in European markets, the producers only earn a fraction of the end price. Regardless, many families and communities still depend on this practice, being their only income and knowhow.
Government efforts and incentives aiming at fair trade are almost inexistent for these nomadic communities battling to keep their business alive.
For a few years now, younger generations have been leaving behind the highlands in search for a better life in the cities, this generational gap will extinct the nomadic practices of their ancestors.The disappearance of such pure lifestyle is inevitable and might eventually be forgotten. City migration is not a novelty, and the problems faced follow similar patterns globally.
The loss of the Kharnak Nomads’ culture to the modern society has a very important connotation. Their way of living, traditions and rich culture is a true example of a community that lives sustainably, proves respect for nature and embraces a conscious lifestyle; aspects that we as a “modern” society should be craving for.