Building high-altitude democracy in the Himalayas
News from the Field, 24 May 2011
India has the largest tribal population in the world, with more than 460 tribes comprising some 85 million people. Almost one third are in the Himalayan region. They face a range of challenges, from displacement and exclusion to poverty and illiteracy. An UNDEF-funded project works to strengthen civic participation among high-altitude tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. The project, implemented by Pragya, works through awareness campaigns to educate communities in rights, laws, democratic processes, and civic literacy; builds resource centres to create a critical mass for effective political participation; and educates young people to act as "barefoot monitors" of welfare services and human rights protection mechanisms.