Modernity in Zanskar

Modernity in Zanskar

Access to Zanskar is very difficult but the slow incursion of economic development, somewhat anarchic, is already modifying the social organization of the local population. Nowadays, Zanskarpas still cultivate their family plot of soil and try to protect their meagre patrimony. However, because of the contact with Indian society, they are about to adopt a new conception of ownership.

The ancient lifestyle is not always sufficient and the Zanskarpas are looking for other ways to subsist. Villagers often receive a basic education and must sometimes leave Zanskar to train or to earn money.

The Zansparkas’ attachment to the Buddhist teaching and to its traditions, the great respect that they devote to their elders and to their spiritual leaders have so far protected them against a sometimes rapid mutation.

However, in a couple of years, the current remoteness of Zanskar will be broken. The Indian government is currently building a transhimalayan trail that will cross the valley, opening it up to the world. A flood of modernity will soon invade Zanskar, bringing new goods and new customs which will have a mixture of pleasant and unfortunate consequences.


We can already predict that those changes will have an incidence on the values of the Zanskarpa society even though it is hard to foresee to what extent.

Men and women alike, better-educated people will probably be better armed to face the changes and take advantage of them. Therefore, from the start, the Marpaling School has insisted on hosting girls and boys in its classes and on training apprentices.