Nothing is Black

The chapter “Nothing is Black, Nothing is White” by Helena Norberg-Hodge describes traditional life in Ladakh, as well as discusses major changes taken place in the region. The author agrees that her description of their life if rather exaggerated as she sees everything through rose-tinted lenses. She says that old traditions are replaced by modern ones which are viewed as negative changes. Therefore, the primary goal of the reading is to contrast to styles of live. Old traditions suggested that people in Ladakh fetch water every day and cook their food on fire.

Actually, they don’t find it difficult as they simply get used to such lifestyle. They don’t know another life. Moreover, they don’t suffer from cold or hot weather as we always do. Ladakh is characterized by limited nature of communication because they were excited with their life, whereas we often feel inferior to starts. The author points negative moments of old traditions. She stresses that there were problems with health and longevity. Many people died of diseases which can be cured by Western medicine. Infant mortality is very high – up to 15%. Therefore, Ladakh people need improving health conditions and reducing disease rates.

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Ladakh people view death as nature life cycle and they believe that all stages of life are equally important. Development has brought certain benefits to them – modern medicine, money and technology give an opportunity to travel, to cure diseases and to buy necessary things. Education also offers new exciting opportunities as traditional citizens are likely to be socially disadvantaged. The author concludes that traditional culture is reflection of fundamental human needs and it does respect natural limits, whereas modern culture produces environmental problems.

Firstly, I think that the author illustrates traditional life in Ladakh only from positive side. Actually, she presents that people live in insanitation condition as positive moment. Secondly, the author says that modern culture simply creates environmental problems. Such presentation is biased. The chapter “The Development Hoax” by Helena Norberg-Hodge describes her experiences when she first arrived in Ladakh. The author describes attitudes, human qualities and views of Ladakh people. Firstly, the author is very surprised revealing that Ladakh people aren’t greedy.

She writes that if they develop further, they should be taught how to become greedier and pursue their own interests. Ladakh people aren’t interested in sacrificing their time and efforts for material gains. They even refused to sell things and goods for tourist as they didn’t understand what to with monetary refunds. When the author returns to Ladakh in 16 years she observes widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. It is the first sign of modern influences. Negative change is that women have lost their power and self-confident, whereas men have become dominating in society.

Unemployment, inflation and increased crime rates are viewed as negative affects of modernization. Population has become more depressed because of psychological and economic pressures. Moreover, people have separated from land illustrating that economic dependence has fully replace self-efficiency concept. Modern world has brought material benefits, though it seems inappropriate and ugly, as the author points. Living standard in Ladakh higher compared with other Third World regions. People in Ladakh are able to satisfy their basic needs, to devote much time to their families, to pay attention to music and art, etc.

We see that people combine benefits of modern world with appreciation of eternal human values. Firstly, I think that the author equally presents both positive and negative moments of modern culture. She shows that Ladakh people can enjoy the benefits of education, food and traveling, and, at the same time, she shows that modern culture has brought social and income inequality. Secondly, I don’t agree that Ladakh people are able to become modern civilization as they had been living in natural environment for many years and it is hardly possible for them to adapt to swiftly dazzling modern world.


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