“niiti”, a Sanskrit word means, in different contexts, policy, ethics, tenets. To us, who belong here, it is our raison d’etre, our touchstone. So we constantly turn to our ethics and tenets when we re-examine the basis of what we do and how we do it over and over again. This is our space to engage with our core, with you, our readers and companions on the path towards an equitable society in the deepest meaning of the word. Over the past years, there are several social issues and organisations that we have engaged with and been enriched with both experience and knowledge along the way. We believe that in creating a conversation platform for those engaged in the field, including some of our clients, partners, all of you out there who have reached this site wanting to be the change and others who have expertise to comment and critique, we can actually crowd-source actions and solutions for some of our most pressing social issues.

Some of these stories feature organisations and people who have been the change; others highlight innovative approaches to long-entrenched social issues; yet others point to ways in which change can be facilitated, simply. If you are inspired by them as well and motivated to replicate their work, or want to share inputs on other bright examples like these, do write to us at

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jhamtse Gatsal Children’s Community

Jhamtse Gatsal tells its children who are mostly abandoned or orphans from very poor families that ”You Matter” and assures them a shelter and a home on which they can fall back at any point in life. 

Jhamtse Gatsal Children’s Community is more than a school, it is a concept where education goes beyond academic curriculum to practicing principles of love and compassion, to create thinkers and doers. After travelling for almost three days from Guwahati in Assam and through incredibly bumpy roads, it seems that one has entered a world of magic as one experiences life in this community school located in a remote area called Lumla of Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh.

In 2000, Lobsang Phuntsok, the founder of the organization, participated in the UN Peace Conference at New York, after which he started teaching Buddhism and universal principles of love, compassion, wisdom and peace in the United States and Canada. The Community came into existence as a model to showcase these principles in action in a geographical area where development was a remote possibility in the near future.

The school looks at all round development of the children. One can witness a growing model community and school here, which nurtures academic excellence, kind heart and healthy body. It seeks to provide experiential education, build vocational skills and much more. It aims to revive the organic agriculture of the region, the Lion Dance and the Tanka painting through its community school.   

Gatsal has brought about radical changes in the quality of life of 82 children, of whom 9 are orphans and 3 were abandoned. It has successfully provided safe homes to all of them who are being brought up by their housemothers. It provides quality education and health care free of cost. There are on campus medical and dental care facilities for community and local people. It promotes good health care and hygiene practices. It has put in place a recycling and waste management system. It is tapping wind and solar energy. Its health center, family houses, classrooms, office and dining area have solar back up.  The school is reviving organic farming practices in the area. There exists campus wide wireless connectivity, the teachers have laptops, e-learning is encouraged and children get cured through telemedicine facilities. All these are distant dreams for a community that has to travel 14 hours to get an X-Ray done and remains cut off from the world for at least 4 months in a year.  

Thus this school lives up to its names which in Tibetan means Jhamtse - 'love and compassion', and Gatsal - ‘garden'; a garden of love and compassion. 

to know more contact - LobsangPhuntsok (Founder and Director), JhamtseGatsal Children’s Community P.O. Lumla, District Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh 790106

Dr. Sudeshna Chatterjee works with niiti and is a development economist and works as a consultant for the development sector. Designing, strategising and fathoming impacts of initiatives aimed at upliftment of socio-economic conditions of the underprivileged is her forte. She helps organisations both profit and not-for-profit, who think and work for the underprivileged. She conducts socio economic impact studies, monitoring and evaluation of projects, documentation of initiatives and case studies.

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