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Former President Venkaiah Naidu presenting the Dr Paulose Mar Gregorious award to Sonam Wangchuk
Former President Venkaiah Naidu presenting the Dr Paulose Mar Gregorious award to Sonam Wangchuk

Social innovator Sonam Wangchuk awarded Dr Paulos Mar Gregorios Award

ANI | Updated: Nov 27, 2022 19:51 IST

New Delhi [India], November 27 (ANI): Sonam Wangchuk, the engineer from Ladakh whose life story inspired Bollywood film 3 Idiots, was on Sunday awarded the seventh Dr Paulos Mar Gregorios Award by former Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.
Instituted by the Sophia Society of the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Church, the award is given every alternate year in the memory of the first Metropolitan of Delhi Diocese and renowned philosopher Dr Paulos Mar Gregorios.

The award was presented to Wangchuk for outstanding contribution in Creative Innovation and Sustainable Development at a function held at St Thomas School in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad.
Speaking at the function, Venkaiah Naidu hailed the role of social and religious organizations in ensuring sustainable development of the world we live in.
In his address after accepting the award Wangchuk highlighted that environmental changes, in particular air pollution will contribute to many deaths in the future. He emphasised that air pollution alone was killing more people than the other impacts of climate change.
Wangchuk pointed out, "Everytime we drive our huge cars clean looking cars alone, we are dropping a bomb of roughly 4 kgs of carbon dioxide every kilometre. Now, this is the violence that we need to address. Roughly seven million people die of air pollution alone in the world..."

"...because of our lifestyles where we over consume, and there was a time when we didn't have enough food enough houses but now we are over doing it. Housing and agriculture are said to be two of the biggest contributors to climate change...If we do not set our air conditioners to 18 degrees in 45 degree, Delhi making a Ladakhi feel cold in a hot summer in Delhi. We can change things. So I appeal to you all today as I always do from the mountains of Ladakh, my message would be please live, simply in the big cities so that we in the mountains may simply live."
Meanwhile, at the award function today, former Union Minister Salman Kurshid delivered the keynote address.
The Catholicos Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews III, Supreme Head of the Orthodox Church in India and Dr Youhanon Mar Demetrios, Metropolitan of Delhi Diocese, were present at the award function.
A book on the life and thoughts of Paulos Mar Gregorios, an ecumenical leader devoted to inter-faith dialogue and an articulator of the Orthodox Christian faith across the world and who served as the President, World Council of Churches was released on the occasion.
Born in 1966, Wangchuk, a mechanical engineer and Director of the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL), was a recipient of the Magsaysay Award in the year 2018.
Wangchuk's personality inspired the fictional character of Phunsukh Wangdu essayed by Aamir Khan in the 2009 film.
The Ladakh-based engineer is known for setting up his innovative school, the Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), whose campus runs on solar energy and uses no fossil fuels for cooking, lighting, or heating. He set up the SECMOL in 1988 with the aim of supporting Ladakhi children and youth and to train the students whom the system termed as failures.
In 1994, Wangchuk launched Operation New Hope to bring reforms in the government schools' system.
He has also been instrumental in designing the low-cost solar heated buildings made of mud to maintain a formidable temperature in Ladakh winters. Ice Stupa has been yet another pioneering invention towards solving the water crisis facing mountain regions. (ANI)