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Sonam Wangchuk

Sonam Wangchuk




  • Wangchuk was born in 1966 in Uleytokpo, near Alchi in the Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir. He was not enrolled in a school until the age of 9 year as there weren’t any schools in his village. His mother taught him all the basics in his own mother tongue till that age.
  • His father Sonam Wangyal, a politician who later became the minister in state government, was stationed in Srinagar.
  • At age 9, he was taken to Srinagar and enrolled in a school there.In 1977 he escaped alone to Delhi.


  • He went against his father’s wishes to self- finance his Mechanical Engineering from NIT, Srinagar. Much later, in 2011, he also went to France to study Earthen Architecture to give impetus to his initiatives.
  • Wangchuk is not just an engineer, he is also an innovator and education reformist. All the formative experiences shaped his future and his frustration against the education system led him to start the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), to address the problems of the younger generation and their lack of focus and cultural confusion


  • After experimenting with school reforms in government high school at Saspol, SECMOL launched Operation New Hope in collaboration with the government education department and the village population.
  • From June 1993 until August 2005, Wangchuk also founded and worked as the editor of Ladakh’s only print magazine Ladags Melong.
  • In 2001, he was appointed to be an advisor for the education in the Hill Council Government. In 2002, together with other NGO heads, he founded Ladakh Voluntary Network (LVN).


  • He was appointed to the Drafting Committee of the Ladakh Hill Council Government’s Vision Document Ladakh 2025 and entrusted with the formulation of the policy on Education and Tourism in 2004.
  • He was appointed to the Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education in 2013. In 2014, he was appointed to the Expert panel for framing the J&K State Education Policy and Vision Document. • Since 2015, Sonam has started working on establishing Himalayan Institute of Alternatives.


  • Led by Wangchuk, SECMOL has won the International Terra Award for best building in July 2016 at the 12th World Congress on Earthen Architecture in Lyon, France.
  • In January 2014, Wangchuk started a project called the Ice Stupa. His aim was to find a solution to the water crisis being faced by the farmers of Ladakh.
  • By the end of February in 2014, they had successfully built a two-storey prototype of an ice stupa which could store roughly 150,000 litres of winter stream water which nobody wanted at the time.


  • Just on 26th July, 2018 it has been announced that Sonam Wangchuk won coveted Ramon Magsaysay award 2018.
  • For all his path-breaking achievements, Sonam Wangchuk has been awarded at various platforms, notably the ICA Honor Award 2017, San Francisco, CA, the GQ Men of the Year Awards, Social Entrepreneur of the Year, 2017, Rolex Award for Enterprise, 2016, International Terra Award for best earth building, 2016, Man of the Year by the Week, 2001 and many more.