MEDIA RELEASE, 21 September 2022
In a gathering of gobas (nambardars) from various parts of Leh district, several recommendations were made to strengthen local-level governance including the goba system. The gathering was organised by Snow Leopard Conservancy – India Trust (SLC-IT), Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), Ladakh Media and Arts Organisation (LAMO), Local Futures, and Kalpavriksh. About 35 nambardars / gobas participated in the gathering. The meeting was graced by the Chief Executive Councillor Tashi Gyaltsan and the Ladakh Buddhist Association Vice-President Tsering Dorjay Lakruk, both of whom supported the need to strengthen and recognise the goba system.
The meeting was based on a detailed study led by Kalpavriksh (a Pune-based organisation active in Ladakh), in coordination with the above-mentioned Ladakhi organisations. The study found that the goba system is still highly relevant for Ladakhi society. Across the Leh district, people continue to have faith in this system, and insist that it should continue along with the Panchayat system.
The meeting made the following recommendations:
- The goba performs many important functions for the community, which need to be given legal recognition in the Lambardari Act or in a new Goba Act, as also in laws relating to the panchayat, Council and UT Administration. This includes land and water management, resolution of disputes, organising of religious and cultural functions, announcing sowing and harvesting time or migration time for livestock herders, providing character certificates, representing the village to the government, keeping population and livestock figures, ensuring compliance with customary rules (thims), and others.
- Gobas need to be given incentives for their role, including higher honorarium from the government, and social recognition such as rewards for good work. Office space should also be created for gobas in each village. But such incentives should not lead to treating gobas/nambardars as government servants, but as representatives of the people, just like sarpanches, Councillors, MLAs etc who are also given a honorarium by the government.
- The functions of gobas need to be clarified in relation to the panchayat, the Council, and the UT Administration. Gobas must be part of any decision by these bodies in decisions relating to land and other issues of villages, including development projects, extraction of sand/rocks etc, and allotment of lands.
- Ladakh needs to be urgently granted constitutional status to enable the goba system to be given strong formal recognition (such as what is given to the Dzumsa system in Sikkim). This could be under the 6th Schedule, and if possible also the 5th Schedule, to strengthen the powers and role of the yulpa (village assembly).
- Discussions should happen in all villages to frame new thims (rules) to deal with new issues like solid waste, climate change, allocation of land for development projects, etc.
- There are traditional inequalities in the goba system, for instance very few women or young people or marginalised castes are able to be gobas. More incentives and capacity-building, and social transformations towards greater equality are needed for such people to become gobas.
- The age limit of 60 recently imposed by the government, should be withdrawn, as often the people with the most relevant experience to be a goba are above that age.
The gathering also decided to form a Leh district level Goba Association, in consultation with all gobas, to take forward the above recommendations, to have a collective voice for demands, to learn from each other, etc. This will also federate various regional or block level associations that already exist, or can be formed.
Read the previous Press Release published in July 2022.
Read the full report here.
Read the Goba Report Summary in Bodhi
Karma Sonam, Nature Conservation Foundation, [email protected]
Tsewang Namgail, Snow Leopard Conservancy – India Trust, [email protected]
Tashi Morup, Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation, [email protected]