Nanda Devi Institute of Adventure Sports and Outdoor Education
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The Nanda Devi Institute of Adventure Sports and Outdoor Education (NDI) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mountain Shepherds Initiative Pvt. Ltd. The main objective of the institute as mentioned in the Memorandum of Articles of the company is to ‘Design and conduct training programs in adventure sports, outdoor education and responsible tourism for the adventure tourism industry with focus on sustainable livelihoods”.
The main training campus of the Nanda Devi Institute is located in Kuflon in the Assi Ganga Valley of the border district of Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand, India. The institute has another campus in Lata, the gateway to the Nanda Devi National Park in the border district of Chamoli in Uttarakhand, India. The institute offers technical training courses in basic mountaineering, search & rescue, community based disaster response and outdoor adventure and education camps for children including bird watching.
Mountain Shepherds is a commercial spinoff of the post Chipko Movement (Cheeno Jhapto) for rights over natural resources in the Niti Valley area of the Garhwal Himalayas . It was set up in response to the beneficiary based approach to tourism during the early years of the 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. After few years in operation the initiative realized the need of a professional training institute for the capacity building of the local communities in adventure tourism and outdoor education. Consequently Nanda Devi Institute was incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of Mountain Shepherds Initiative on 15th of April 2011 under the Companies Act of 1956 of the Government of India.
Mountain Shepherds Initiative and its subsidiary Nanda Devi Institute operate under the approach of ‘Community Owned Tourism’, wherein local communities are considered as legitimate stakeholders. The youth from the remote mountain areas are encouraged to participate in the various capacity building programs and after an internship offered jobs and shares of the company. The initiative received finalist award under Peoples Award category in 2015 by the World Travel and Tourism Council. The Community Owned Tourism (COT) model evolved under the initiative has been widely documented and discussed in various academic and news platforms , , , , . In 2006, Jade Ajani and David Meek from Antioch University produced a feature length documentary titled ‘Janadhaar” exploring the struggle for community-owned ecotourism and sustainable rural development.
After its incorporation Nanda Devi Institute attempted to collaborate with international institutions to bring quality training programs in the remote regions of the Himalayas. In collaboration with University of Montana (MT), a birding expert Benjamin N Schwartz was invited to spend six months in the interiors of Himalayas to access the training needs and conduct training programs in bird watching. As a result the institute is now spreading awareness about conserving the critical habitat of birds and promoting birding as a livelihood option to the unemployed youth from the remote regions of Uttarakhand Himalayas. The initial efforts of the Nanda Devi Institute of Adventure Sports were aimed at the capacity building in search and rescue and community based disaster response. Since 2017, the institute has started offering courses in basic mountaineering and outdoor education for the student community in India. So far the institute has provided training to the State Disaster Response Force of Uttarakhand, Community Based Disaster Response to the native communities and adventure orientation courses to the Green Peace India
The technical training programs at the Nanda Devi Institute of Adventure Sports and Outdoor Education are managed by a group of highly experienced mountaineers who were earlier associated with some of the premier defense institutions in India like High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS), ITBP and the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering.. The training programs are conducted under the supervision of Director (Technical Training) Mr. Mohan Singh Gunjyal.
Following courses are offered by the institute:
1. Ski and Snow Craft based Search & Rescue Course for the State Disaster Response Force of Uttarakhand State. (Institutional Course)
2. Community Based Disaster Response Course for mountain communities residing in the disaster prone areas of Uttarakhand. (Institutional Course)
3. Foundation Course in Basic Mountaineering. (Open Course)
4. Bird Watching Course. (Open Course)
5. Foundation Course for Adventure and Outdoor Education (Open Course)
The Institute is certified by the Uttarkashi based Nehru Institute of Mountaineering to conduct training programs in Search & Rescue in snow bound areas, disaster response and basic mountaineering. The institute is also recognized by the Disaster Mitigation and Management Center of the Uttarakhand State Government to conduct training in disaster response.
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- Bosak, Keith (2010). "Ecotourism as Environmental Justice? Discourse and the Politics of Scale in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, India". Environmental Philosophy 7 (2): 49–74. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26168042.