Join us to make India a world leader in innovative education

J&K State Education Minister Mr. Naeem Akhtar launches the crowdfunding campaign for the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh,  at a special function in New Delhi on 25th of November.  The minister promised all possible help from the state government.

Sonam Wangchuk in his talk " Next Learning Revolution" announced that the award money from the Rolex Award for Enterprise will be contributed as a seed money towards the university project. It will be used to green the desert land, using ice stupa artificial glaciers.

Everything around us has changed drastically in the last 150 years...  from riding on horse backs to  flying by aeroplanes, from using pigeons for mail to emails and smartphones; but in our schools, colleges and classrooms... almost nothing has changed.  Chalk, talk and paper... paper knowledge, paper evaluations, paper degrees all too papery and all too theoretical... very little that prepares us for real life in the real world.  

No wonder graduates coming out of most our colleges and universities finish a ritual and get their degrees but are highly unemployable, according to various studies.  Often employers end up re-educating the fresh recruits at their own expense.

In Ladakh, the situation is even worse. There are no functional universities in the region.  As a result, there is a mass exodus of youth to cities like Jammu and Chandigarh. Where they live like educational refugees learn very little that is of relevance to their lives and return as misfits for the mountain environment.

With the the blessings and support of His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpochey, one of the top spritual leaders in Tibetan Buddhism,  SECMOL, the Student’s Educational and Cultural  Movement Of Ladakh proposes to start an alternative university for mountain development. 
The government of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Council Leh have supported the concept by earmarking 200 acres of land on the Phyang desert.  
And the desert is already starting to become green using the famous Ice Stupa artificial glacier technique.

Hi, I am Sonam Wangchuk from Ladakh, a beautiful trans-Himalayan mountain desert on the Tibetan plateau, in the extreme north of India. I am a mechanical engineer by training, but have mostly worked in education reforms in my region for the last 25 years. This included setting up the SECMOL Alternative School well known for its innovative solutions to the region's educational and environmental problems. 

I recently won the Rolex Award for Enterprise for the Ice Stupa Artificial GlacierI have decided to use the award of roughly one crore rupees as a seed money towards the establishment of this alternative university in Ladakh.

The Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL)

HIAL will engage youths from multiple Himalayan countries in Research & Development to tackle the issues faced by mountain people, especially in the domains of education, culture, and the environment. Like SECMOL, the university aims to break the rigid boxes of conventional thinking, be relevant to people's lives, and encourage learning via practical application of knowledge.

Join hands to establish the world's first Alternative Mountain University which will set an example for all the others to follow.

How Can You Help? 

You can contribute however small or big.  $10 or $10,000, it is the spirit that counts.  It may not be easy to see the possible impact of your contribution at present;  but your $10 could pave the way for billions of dollars when this "alternative" university is established and is picked up by the mainstream development machinery i.e. government and other agencies in the rest of the world so that this university doesn't remain "alternative".

To support us with your skills and time please sign up here.

If you believe in what we do, please share this story with your friends and relatives. This is as much an awareness campaign as it is a fund raiser.

You can host small events in your neighborhood to screen the film, initiate discussions and spread awareness. This would make you an HIAL Ambassador. If you want to do this you should get in touch with us at

We strongly recommend using your debit and credit card to make a contribution. All Indian Debit Cardholders can contribute with out any transaction fees and for others it is just 2.5% of payment gateway charges. Also, since Milaap has decided to waive off their fees, HIAL will be fully benefited with your contribution.

Our work and vision was recently covered on NDTV,  The Logical Indian and The Wire.

You can also do a bank transfer to the below account 
Account name: HIAL 
Account number: 8080808010108864
Ask for an update
10th January 2018

UPDATE & PRESS RELEASE: January 9, 2018Led by Sonam Wangchuk, HIAL, aims at providing experiential higher education to students, aims to close its first round of Rs. 7 crore crowd-funding on Milaap with private & corporate donors

Though everything around us has changed drastically in the last 150 years almost nothing has changed in our classrooms across schools and colleges. We need to revisit the theoretical approach and bring in a more experiential way of learning where students not only become employable and skilled but also focus on applying their learnings to solve real life issues of people. It is indeed sad that although India has given to the world techniques like yoga and vipassana, today it is itself chasing after IBs, Cambridges and Harvards of the world, who unfortunately are themselves ill-equipped to tackle the challenges facing the planet.

A year ago when Sonam Wanghchuk who has been actively engaged in the educational reforms in the Ladakh region for the past 25 years launched a campaign to support an alternative university for the mountain context called Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh ( HIAL). In this he was supported by His Holiness Drikung Skyabgon Chetsang Rinpochey, one of the topmost spiritual leaders in Himlayan Buddhism after HH the Dalai Lama, and currently also the United Nations' Ambassador for Mountain Partnership.

Sonam Wangchuk is widely known around the world for his invention of the Ice Stupa artificial glaciers. For this he won the prestigious Rolex Award Enterprise in Hollywood in November 2016. Coinciding with the announcement of the Rolex Award he contributed to the university project the rupees one crore that came with the award and started a campaign on India’s leading crowdfunding platform, Milaap. He appealed to the nation to help raise half of the 14 crore rupees that will be needed to start the first school of the HIAL alternative university. The other half is expected to be raised from corporates CSR initiatives. Of the 7 crore target on Milaap over Rs. 4.6 crores have been raised with contributions from over 1000 individuals in their personal capacity and some corporate donations.

For the first phase of the university Sonam hopes to raise rupees 150 crores by 2020.

While crowdfunding from community has seen personal contributions ranging from rupees 50 to rupees 21 lakh, it was most interesting to see Arjun Rajawat, a 8th grade student from Ridge Valley School, Gurgaon raise one lakh rupees through a campaign of his own among his school friends and relatives. Similarly the Singapore International School, Mumbai raised two lakh rupees through various activities done by its students. Sonam himself through the fees collected from 25 talks at various corporate events has personally contributed roughly 1.5 crore rupees more in the past year. Apart from financial support many senior professionals have offered their time and experience as volunteers for this cause.

The crowdfunding campaign got support from HNIs in India like Vallabh Bhansali, Deep Kalra, Ashish Kacholia, Jyoti Sagar, Harshal Morde and Shantilal Mehta and many more. Organisations like Jain Irrigation Systems, Petronet LNG, Max Life Insurance, PWC Foundation, Timken, Essel Group, Makemytrip, Sterling Wilson, Supreme Industries, Natural Remedy, Gemalto, Future Institute, Indian for Collective Action – San Francisco, and many more also contributed.

Speaking on this occasion, Sonam Wanghchuk thanked all the supporters and said this was an act of nation building, to see India spearhead the next learning revolution. Stressing that education should be contextual, he said that although this time it was for the mountain context he hoped that ripple effects would be seen in higher education all over the country and probably the world. He said, “HIAL aims to break the rigid boxes of conventional thinking, be relevant to people's lives, and encourage hands-on learning via practical application of knowledge. At HIAL students will spend more than two thirds of the time in real life applications outdoors. The School of Sustainable Tourism will run actual hotels and homestays and ice parks, School of Sustainable Architecture will build the university itself and the School of Applied Ecology will at the restoration of the valley damaged by effects of climate change."

He then announced the Founding Partners of the project i.e. individuals and corporates who have promised more than one crore rupees. As also Founding Supporters who have enabled in transforming this vision to reality by contributing on the online crowdfunding campaign.

He particularly thanked the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council for supporting the HIAL initiative and providing roughly 200 Acres of land.Today is an important milestone as the HIAL team prepares to get cracking with on-ground implementation of the project. They are already in process of recruiting for key positions and preparing to start the first batch of Diploma in Integrated Mountain Development this summer of 2018. They look forward to more support in achieving the goal of Rs. 7 crores of which 70% has been achieved.

As India marches towards it 69th Republic Day which also marks the closing of the Milaap campaign, lets join hands and contribute towards making India a leader in innovative education.
14th August 2017
17th July 2017
Just sending a note to thank you all for helping us reach almost 20% of our goal. Many corporates large and small have been supporting us and we are making progress with our roadmap for the university.

We do plan to drive the next phase of fundraising efforts in  a few weeks and I'll be reaching out to you all for ideas and ways in which we can make this a continued success.

Learn more about the initiative

Content Disclaimer: The facts and opinions, expressed in this fundraiser page are those of the campaign organiser or users, and not Milaap.
raised of Rs.70,000,000 goal

971 Supporters

Beneficiary: Students Educat... info_outline

Supporters (971)

Amit donated Rs.10,000
about 5 hours ago

My small help in the noble cause towards future generation of the country.

ANAND donated Rs.1,000
5 days ago

Happy to support this good cause of HIAL.

Abhijeet donated Rs.5
11 days ago
Anonymous donated Rs.200
12 days ago

Let's make our education more creative and idealistic

Vinod donated Rs.700
15 days ago

Improvement to our country

Anonymous donated Rs.100
19 days ago

Thank you...we're with you.