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Sonam Wangchuk, the innovative engineer of ladakh

Sonam Wangchuk is an Indian educationalist and innovator and social reformist. He is an engineer by profession. This is man from Ladakh, whose incredible life had prompted the filmmakers of ‘3 Idiots’ to draw up the extraordinary character of Phunsukh Wangdu.

About his early life

Born in 1966, in Uleytokpo, in Leh district of Ladakh, Wangchuk was only enrolled in a school at the age of 9. He learnt his basics from his mother as there was no school in his village. His father was, a politician who  became the minister in state government. Wangchuk finished his B.Tech in 1987 and became a  Mechanical Engineer from National Institute of Engineering, Srinagar in 1987. Sonam had difference with his father and the reason for the same he choose to finance his own education. In 2011, he left to attain additional 2years degree course in Earthen Architecture from France.

Role as an innovator and social reformist

In 1988, this  52-year-old engineer from Leh established  a revolutionary school, which admitted kids written off as failures by others. Wangchuk’s only purpose was to make learning recreational and practical instead than subjecting children to just learning. He had garnered national attention from this act.

Other ground-breaking innovations from this incredible engineer, was the  ‘Ice Stupas’ and solar heated mud huts which put him on the multinational radar for uncovering endurable outcomes in risky topography.

In 1994, in collaboration with the government and civil society, Sonam Wangchuk launched operation New Hope to bring reforms in the schools system of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The engineer reformist was later appointed in the Expert panel for framing the state education policy and vision document. Later in 2015,  he started working on designing the Himalayan Institute of alternative, as he was concerned about higher education in the mountains valleys. He wanted to set good universities in those tough terrains.

In the year 2016, Wangchuk commenced a project called Farm Stays Ladakh. This social engineer wanted to involve local people to generate income through. Tourism. tourists could stay with local families of Ladakh, which was run by women. Sonam is also the founding-director of the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh. Engineer Wangchuk is known for constructing the SECMOL campus in 1988,that runs fully on solar energy without using fossil fuels for cooking, lighting or heating.

Political Work

In 2013, on several invitations from students society of Ladakh, Sonam Wangchuk, assisted in the launch the NLM-New Ladakh Movement. It was a social campaign which aimed of working for sufficient education, environment and economic growth of the state. It also intended to unite all the political leaders of Ladakh under one banner. Regardless its social idea, the purpose of this engineer cum socialist could not convert into electoral victory. Finally, the members agreed to make it into a non-political social movement.

Engineer’s inspiration

Sonam was inspired to take up such causes was mainly due to the empathy. The lives if common people around him forced him to take up issues like water problems, education etc. He believe in the fact that to make the country a great nation one should become a great citizen first.

Recently, in May 2020, he even appealed to people to boycott Chinese product in order show concern for local made goods. He was well supported by media and various celebrities in this Wallet power campaign.

Honours and awards

This engineer turned reformist had received many awards and accolades for his marvellous work. In 2018 he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award and honorary doctorate in literature from Symbols institute. He also got the award for Eminent Technologist of the Himalayan Region by IIT Mandi same year. Apart from above he is an recipient of GQ Men of the Year Awards, Social Entrepreneur of the Year and a State Award for outstanding environmentalist by J&K Govt.


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