On my trek in Ladakh last September, I joined a group of villagers having a tea-break in the fields where they had been harvesting the wheat. They were debating whether to buy a tractor or not. Some argued that it didn’t make sense because they already had cattle which could be used to do the threshing in the traditional way for no extra cost. The tractor not only costs money to buy, but you also need to buy petrol. One of the older men said that he would love to use a tractor before he died!
Another issue was how to respond to a letter received from a tourist agency inviting the villagers to serve as porters for foreign trekkers. Some of the younger men were keen to go to earn some cash, but others argued that it was harvest time, and the women couldn’t do it on their own. In the end, the decision was to stay and do the harvesting. There was, in fact, no great urgency to leave the village since my guide informed me that the villagers get paid (by an NGO I believe) to stay put and help preserve the environment for the endangered snow leopards.
If you would like to add a comment, please feel free to do so. You may have listened into a similar debate, or have views about the impact of new technolgies on traditional cultures.