“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

This is your platform. Feel free to contribute, critique, and most importantly, converse.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mountain Shepherds Initiative

While work began in 2002, Mountain Shepherds got incorporated as a private limited company in 2008. It has successfully experimented community owned tourism where all fields of operations of the company are managed by local youth, who eventually get shares in the company. It campaigns for ‘Bio-Cultural Diversity Conservation’ through tourism and promotes handicraft of Bhotiya women through in online shop ‘Angwal’. 

Mountain Shepherds is a commercial spinoff of the post chipko movement for rights over natural resources in the Niti Valley area of Garhwal Himalayas. It was set up in response to the beneficiary based approach to tourism during the early years of Uttarakhand State. The villagers outlined their tourism approach in the ‘Nanda Devi Declaration’ of 2001. Mountain Shepherds represents the efforts to actualize it with focus on equity and conservation.

Artist Camps                               Training Camps for Guides     Student Trips

Now with a turnover of more than 3 lakhs, the organization ensures that local culture and way of life is not lost at the behest of tourism.
  • It has built capacities of more than 70 youth from remote areas in a variety of skills pertinent for responsible tourism in the Himalayas ranging from search & rescue methods, emergency medical response (WFR), life saving techniques, nature guides, yoga and cooking. 
  • To ensure minimisation of ills of tourism, a systematic garbage management system has been put in place. The exposure of local communities is increased through direct interaction with visitors and through participation in tourism fairs. 
  • Some of the avenues through which the locals earn apart from daily employment include direct sale of carpets and woolen products from remote villages (approx. Rs 80000 per year), homestays (approx. Rs 60000 per year), mule services for treks (approx. Rs 2,00,000 per year), porters/guides for treks (Rs 3,00,000), local transportation ( approx. Rs 4,00,000), local agri products ( approx Rs 20,000). The organization has succeeded in transforming some of the porters/guides into responsible tourism entrepreneurs. For itself, it has transformed from a seasonal trekking company to running one of the most popular lodges at the Ski destination of Auli. 
Future : Mountain Shepherds plans to expand its network of people by building capacities of youth in other tourism potential areas. It also wishes to develop need based infrastructure in strategic locations.

Taking control of a tourism industry with community responsibility, cultural survival, and ecological sustainability at the forefront.

To know more Contact: Dhan Singh Rana or Dr. Sunil Kainthola, Email: or visit -

Dr. Sudeshna Chatterjeeworks 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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