Hudson Institute, the Observer Research Foundation, and the Office of the Gyalwang Drukpa hosted a half-day conference on Friday, May 8th at the Peninsula Hotel in New York. The Future of the Himalayas conference aimed to provoke discussion about the area’s strategic, ecological, and cultural importance, as well as the critical challenges confronting the Himalayan region today.
The 1500-mile extension of the Himalayan mountain range occupies a critical geostrategic location traversing India, Bhutan, China, Nepal, and Pakistan. The Himalayas are a significant source of defense, agriculture, energy, and tourism for the nations they occupy. Yet the region faces a number of security challenges including the disputed India-China border, the question of Tibet, and the illicit use of the border by drug and arms traffickers, insurgent groups, and terrorists.
The remote geography of the Himalayas contributes to the region’s inadequate infrastructure, poor connectivity, shortage of industries, and lack of a viable service sector. These factors in turn have led to economic, environmental, and sociocultural problems. Various indigenous languages, cultures, and lifestyles are under threat from external influences and ideas, as in the case of Tibet. Further, rising unemployment, declining economic investment, and a high rate of emigration from the region have worsened the situation.